“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year… The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn’t need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she’s already gotten the dirt from you know who.”
Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.
Second Helpings picks up in Jessica’s senior year, where dating, college applications, and he-who-must-not-be-named are just a few of her problems. Jessica’s narration is equal parts crazy, snarky, thought-provoking, engaging, and every bit as wonderful as it was in Sloppy Firsts. I really enjoyed watching Jessica grow and develop over the course of the book, as she made mistakes and learned a lot about herself and her desires.
My trepidations about Marcus Flutie’s character were quickly dispelled throughout this read – to the point where I can easily see why practically everyone wants him as a book boyfriend. Mysterious, unpredictable, and sweet, Marcus Flutie managed to capture my heart, and his chemistry with Jessica led me to ship them so, so strongly. I sincerely hope that he’ll have his own narration at some point, or be more present in future installments, at the very least.
Relationships are, as always, a prominent portion of this book, and there was even a very well-done love triangle. McCafferty perfectly captures the nature of teenage relationships (or relationships in general): it’s often hard to know the nature of your own feelings for someone, and relationships themselves are confusing and complicated.
Overall, Second Helpings was every bit as enjoyable and entertaining as its predecessor. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!