Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1) by Megan McCafferty
Young Adult/Adult
Paperback, 298 pgs.
Published March 5th, 2002
Source: Purchased

“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

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?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

This book has been recommended by so many people and all I’ve heard is rave reviews.  So the moment it arrived I started reading it.  And the only problem I really had with the book was the very beginning was a bit confusing, or just kind of choppy and hard to follow because we’re getting a bit of back story to figure out where Jessica is now.  It’s just the first 20 pages or so though so stick with it!  It wasn’t bad for me, it was just different and harder to follow.  But then the story took off and WOW!  I am a fan of characters that really pop.  That have some amazing inner dialogue and Jessica is one of the best I’ve ever read.  Her personality pops off the page and you can’t help but laugh your head off like every other page.  And while her internal dialogue is great, her conversations with others will knock you right off your freaking chair!  And I’ll warn you now, do not, under any circumstances, drink anything while reading this book!  Cause guaranteed you’ll snort it right out your nose! 
One favorite scene is where Jessica is called to the counselor’s office because she writes “Life Sucks, and then you die” on her notebook.  This is how the visit went:

So I told her this was all a misunderstanding.  “Life Sucks, Then You Die (L.S.T.Y.D.) is the name of an indie funk band that I just love, love love.  She not only totally bought it, but started acting like she’s heard of them because she couldn’t stand the idea of not being clued in anymore.
“They had one song that got some airplay,” I said.
“Right! They did, didn’t they?  What was the name again?”  Her peepers were popping right out of her head at this point.
“Tongue-Kissing Cousins.'”
“Right!” Brandi starts nearly every sentence with that exclamation.  It’s a method of positively affirming her mixed-up counselees, something she learned in one of her Professional Counselor Classes no doubt. “Tongue-Kissing Cousins.’ That song rocks.”
“It’s a slow jam.”
“That’s right! A slow jam.”

Jessica’s ability to BS her way out of anything has been discovered…

The book is basically Jessica’s journal.  So it has some lists and there are some letters to her best friend here and there as well.  However, it doesn’t read exactly like journal books usually do because she documents conversations she has and stuff.  So in my opinion, it’s better then most books that are journal entries.  And I love seeing the real honesty.  How Jessica has fears even while she seems all witty and honest.  She’s not immune to insecurity and she is pretty depressed and dealing with a lot of teenage issues that are kind of just normal issues for teens.  One thing I liked was her relationship with her parents.  I remember really not liking my parents when I was in high school and Jessica is no different.  Her mother is very different from her and she feels like her dad just cares about her running career and he’s constantly pressuring her.  Some of the thoughts that go through her head when dealing with her parents are some of the funniest parts of the book.  There’s one part where she’s running and her dad is riding his bike by her and shouting out things she should and shouldn’t do and she’s visualizing him running her over and then he’d feel all bad about riding so close to her.  It was one of the scenes I really got because that’s the way I thought as a teen even though my situation was so very different from hers. 

This book was wrote when there wasn’t a lot of young adult and I don’t think it was really categorized as young adult.  For that reason it has some things in it that may be more adult.  Some subject matter that a lot of young adult books wouldn’t have.  There’s lots of talking about sex, there’s a bit of bad language and there are subjects that you just don’t see talked about in YA.  I can’t think of any examples but I remember when I read it thinking that it would be kind of taboo in YA today.  People may just take it wrong I guess.  But personally, I think it is one of the most honest portrayal of young adult behavior that I’ve read.  It may be because this book takes place when I was just graduating from high school (2000), but I could really connect with how everything was portrayed in the book.  

The romance in this book had me all sorts of frustrated.  But frustrated in a good way.  It’s not a heavy theme until later in the book and I wanted something to happen so very badly between them.  The sexual frustration between them was so strong and I just couldn’t wait for something to happen.  Jessica was sometimes a bit frustrating in her stubbornness about things and at times I just wanted to smack her.  And then the end- oh man, it was killer.  It was a crazy weird cliffhanger and I’m needing the second book like yesterday!  Such a fantastic book, I very highly recommend it!

5/5 stars!

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  1. For some reason, I thought this was an adult book…maybe it’s the titles (not so much the first one but the others). But I think I’ll have to check it out–Jessica sounds like a hoot!

  2. Great review. I have this book on my shelf and for some reason I have not read it yet. That will have to change very soon. It sounds hilarious and the romance sounds awesome. =)

  3. Great review! I really liked this one. But for some reason, I still haven’t picked up the second book and I don’t know what’s keeping me from reading it.

  4. Oh my gosh, this book sounds like an absolute BLAST!! The first sentence of the synopsis makes me laugh and the rest makes it sound so fun, but your review makes me want to read this right now! Characters that pop are my favourites too (because I’m a very character-driven girl!), and any romance that can frustrate you in a good way is a romance I need to check out! <3

    Amazing review, Candace! You just sold me on this book! :)

  5. I just started book #3 in the series, and I can only say that this series gets better as it goes.

    I love this book for so many reasons! First, I’m only a year older than Jessica, so it’s great to relive those days! Second, because it grows up with Jessica – in book 3 she’s at the summer after her Freshman year of college.

    I love that it’s journal style, and also a letter to her friend who has moved away. I think that’s touching.

    Thanks for the great review :)

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  6. I’ve had this one on my shelf for years and always when I think I’m going to just get rid of it I leave it on my shelf. It seems many people are bringing this series back into the limelight so I shall have to give it a try soon.

    Thanks for the great review, I’m glad that you loved the book as much as everyone else.

  7. I recently started this series too, and it is so addictive. I am about to start Book Four, and I am so thankful for all the praise it has received around the blogosphere because I probably would never have picked it up on my own. Loved Sloppy Firsts, but just wait until you read Second Helpings, it’s my fave so far of the three I’ve read. If you aren’t already a devoted Marcus Flutie fan, you will be by the end of Book 2:) Great review!

  8. I’ve had SO many people recommend this one to me recently!! It sounds like it could be so many kinds of awesome!! :) I’m so glad you loved it! I’ll have to find a way to get my hands on a copy soon! :)


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