YA Friday: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Friday, April 13, 2012

Title: Sloppy Firsts
Author: Megan McCafferty
Series: Jessica Darling #1
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Broadway, 2001
Source: Kathy
Read for: FYA Book club

Jessica "Notso" Darling's best friend, Hope, has moved away, and now Jess is stuck with her shallow, annoying clique of pseudo-friends, the unwanted affections of her friend Scotty, the comparisons of her mother to her apparently perfect older sister, insomnia, and the frustrating fact that despite the fact that she's a virgin, she hasn't had her period in months. Things get even weirder when the school bad boy, Marcus Flutie, decides to start speaking to her.

So I liked this book, and I didn't like this book. There was a lot of good here, but also a lot that bothered me. Let's start with the bothering to end in a happy place.

I think the number one thing that got to me was the fact that I hear so much about Marcus Flutie being the best thing to ever happen in print, and the truth was that in this book at least, he was a bit of a loser. Charming, yes, intelligent, yes. Heavily into drugs and casual sex, also yes. That does not equal dream boy to me, and I wouldn't think it would to most girls. Granted, he changes some in this book, and there are four more in the series. I guess I was just expecting something different from all of the hype, and the reality let me down. Which leads into the other thing that bothers me. I know that this is a biased opinion of mine, so don't all y'all jump down my throat. I know it's a personal preference. However, I was bothered by the amount of foul language and talk of the dirty goings on in high school. I know that McCafferty's intent was to portray high school realistically, and I'm sure that a lot of people in high school do experience that level of language and "dirty talk." (I didn't). But while it may be accurate, I felt uncomfortable by it. So be aware that if you are also made uncomfortable by such things, Sloppy Firsts probably isn't the book for you.

However, with that said, there were a lot of amazing things about this book (enough that I am going to try the second book in the series). While the sexuality and language were not true to my high school experience, Jessica was. She was snarky and the things that frustrated and confused her, the philosophical tangents she went on both alone and with Marcus, rang true. She felt authentic, as if she was coming from a completely true place. Things weren't neat and tidy. The ending certainly isn't (which is of course why I am going to have to read the next book). She's caught in the middle with her group of friends. Her friend soulmate, Hope, is out of the picture except for emails and occasional phone calls, and her other friends are flakes and fakes. Jess has to learn how to cope with her situation and realize that while she may not get Hope back, there are some decent alternatives. She is also caught in the middle of the awkwardness that comes with relationships -- do you date the guy to have status and to have someone to do things with, or do you wait for something you are actually interested in? And are there any guys that aren't dirtbags in high school, anyway? And then there is her family, which isn't out of control dysfunctional, but which is difficult to deal with in that way when you are a teenager and want some autonomy and just can't seem to break free.

That kind of turned into a rant. My point is -- it's legit. It's complex. And Jessica Darling is awesome. The only problem is there is some smut to wade through to get to it. I hear it gets a bit better in the later books, so I'm giving Second Helpings a chance.

3.5 stars

Warnings: Language (smatterings of F-bombs), descriptions of things that high school kids do (but off the page)


  1. I have this on my "to read" list so I loved seeing your review. The high school scene you described in this book seemed like how I felt with "Before I Fall." I wanted to like the characters but got distracted by the way they talk. Maybe because I have a daughter in High School I shudder to think that she is surrounded by that because frankly I wouldn't have even understood that book if I read it in HS (admitting my naiveté) :)

    1. I am the same -- I totally wouldn't get most of the things they talk about when I was in high school. Sometimes when I read these books I wonder if I would want my future kids reading them and I realize, oh goodness, no.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more on this review! While there were things I really enjoyed, I just didn't feel like it was a book that I would rave about. I read them after seeing so many bloggers that were obsessed with them (but before I started blogging), and I just wasn't as in love as I thought I'd be. Maybe I had too high of expectations.

    While I really loved Jessica as a character, I wasn't impressed with Marcus. He wasn't anything like the kind of guy I would find attractive or appealing! And, like you, my high school experience wasn't like Jessica's and I was a little put off by it.

    I actually read through the fourth book and still haven't read the fifth. I just haven't felt pulled to finish them just yet. I'll be VERY interested to see what you think of the rest of the series if you continue reading.

    1. I'm glad that I am not the only one that was not so into Marcus Flutie. I guess I was picturing him as a nice guy, not a bad boy. I'm also glad I'm not the only one that isn't head over heels with this series. Like you I really like Jessica but other than that I am "notso" impressed. I do think I'll read another one eventually, although it might have to wait until we move because they don't have them in the library here and I am a cheapo, haha.

  3. I can't remember if I have this one on my TBR list but I think I'd be bothered by all the stuff that bothered you. I'll have to go check and take it off it is. I don't think I'll bother with this one.

    1. If you know Kathy of Read This Instead, she is the reason I even got the book because she didn't like it and wanted to get rid of it. I always feel kind of guilty putting people off a book but hopefully I helped you avoid something you wouldn't like.


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