When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?
What I Liked:
- Jessica’s voice. She’s snarky, crazy, honest, and over thinks everything. As someone who grew up in a small town, I can say with a fair degree of accuracy that Jessica’s voice is incredibly authentic and perfectly captures what it’s like to be a high school student.
- Instead of perpetuating the virgin/whore dichotomy, sex was discussed in a frank and open way.
- Familial relationships were given as much treatment and depth as romantic relationships and friendships.
- There was visible character growth throughout the entire series, even if some of it resulted from actions that I didn’t approve of.
What I Didn’t Like:
- In Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths, changes in the narration style dampened Jessica’s voice, making her less engaging and harder to connect with.
- After a while, a lot of the narration just seemed to involve repetition of stories and history from previous installments.
- The ending felt rather contrived and wasn’t as satisfying as I had expected.
Despite its strong start, the series seemed to go downhill after Jessica graduated from high school. If you do intend to read this series, I definitely recommend stopping after Second Helpings to avoid immense disappointment.