May 4, 2021
Blurb: Jessica Darling is devastated when her best friend moves away from Pineville, New Jersey. With Hope gone, Jessica has no one she can really talk to. She doesn’t relate to the boy-and-shopping obsessed girls at school, or her dad’s obsession with track meets, and her mom is too busy planning big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding. Jessica is lost more than ever, and her nonexistent love life is only making things worse.
Fresh, funny, and utterly compelling, readers fell in love with Jessica Darling’s poignant, hilarious voice and have stayed with her through her ups and downs (and her mixed-up feelings about her first love, Marcus Flutie). A modern classic, readers will be excited to return to Pineville, New Jersey and Jessica Darling’s world with Sloppy Firsts. Now with a foreword from New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Serle and a new author’s note from Megan McCafferty!
When I was asked to read Sloppy Firsts, a novel by Megan McCafferty celebrating its 20th birthday, I agreed because I knew I hadn’t been reading YA novels 20 years ago and the likelihood that I had read this novel, which didn’t sound familiar, seemed pretty close to nil. As it turns out, thanks to Goodreads, the likelihood was higher–far higher– than I would have guessed. I read Sloppy Firsts back in 2016 before I became a book blogger!
Sloppy Firsts is the story of Jessica Darling (you’d think I would have remembered just based on her name! 😉 ) whose best friend has moved away and who is facing Sophomore year of high school with the remainder of their clique, whom she really doesn’t like. Jessica is a well-developed character who clicks the boxes on intelligence, angst, humor, and drama. Because she’s such an interesting character, I’m really surprised that I didn’t read the rest of the series, except perhaps because of the fact that my library didn’t carry them and my house can only hold so many books without me having to give up a dog–not happening.
Maybe it’s because this is such a character-driven novel that I remembered only bits and pieces from my first read. I liked Jessica’s growing relationship with Marcus Flutie, the “bad” boy and I liked the way his character was developed. He is swoony, which is saying a lot coming from me because I don’t usually like “bad boy” characters. The way in Marcus’ character is portrayed shows just as much about the people around him as it does him: It shows how easily people are dismissed or disregarded when others don’t take a moment to look or consider what might be beneath the surface.
My feeling is that I enjoyed Sloppy Firsts better this time but upon completion I saw the very element which would have left a bad taste in my mouth: the cliffhanger. I have gotten better about accepting cliffhangers in books these days, but it just seems like such a sales ploy to me. (Is that cynical or what?) I can’t tell you the number of books that have fallen by the wayside without me ever knowing what happens to the characters. (Well, I probably can tell you; it’s under five.) However, when I catch up with everything (which might be never), I will track down the rest of the series as I understand it follows Jessica into her 20s. I’d love to see what happened to Jessica and Marcus and the rest of the characters from Sloppy Firsts.
Some reviewers have been banging their gongs about slut-shaming, fat-shaming, shame-shaming, you name it. I didn’t see it, but I wasn’t looking for it because unless it’s overt, completely in my face, I just don’t. So if you read for those things and are easily offended, you might beware or be aware or something of that ilk, at least based on the advice of such reviewers.
All in all, I found Sloppy Firsts enjoyable, maybe moreso, the second time around.
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies
The rating is up a ladybug from my review in 2016.