Alicia is back! Alicia is a music, movie, and book lover with a critical eye and a feminist heart. A freelance artist of many talents, when opportunities arise Alicia finds herself a writer, editor, performer, radio DJ, and cultural commentator, particularly on pop culture and the media. She blogs over at pop!goesalicia and guest posts with us here at Love YA Lit once a month!
Jessica Darling’s life began to change the night her best friend Hope “U-hauled ass out of Pineville.” It’s the middle of the school year and Jessica’s remaining social network consists of the “Clueless Crew”, three girlfriends with whom she has nothing in common, and Scotty, a friend from childhood whose changing feelings for her leave Jessica continually doubting the sincerity of his friendship. Alienated in her own life, Jessica begins to push her own boundaries and finds an unlikely friendship in a forbidden stranger named Marcus Flutie.
Sloppy Firsts is a story about how life begins to change and how the choices we make affect that change. As this blog reminds us, Young Adult isn’t just for teens. As a matter of fact, I’d argue that the term “young adult” has been co-opted to apply to teens when in truth it’s a sliding timeline. Through the vulnerable, yet bitingly hilarious voice of her 16 year old protagonist, McCafferty offers timeless insights on friendship, love and even gender roles – “Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or Smart. Guess which one I got?” Jessica Darling’s observations are sharp – her responses to them honest and hilarious.
I was totally drawn in by Marcus Flutie and Jessica’s quest to unravel her interest in him. McCafferty beautifully develops the connection between Jessica and Marcus as a tender one of mutual discovery, while still stinging with adolescent realism. I especially like her use of the female body to illustrate how physical and emotional experiences intertwine. Though, at first I was disappointed in myself for getting caught up in the “romantic” aspect of the story, the characters offer more depth than a trite teen crush. Marcus speaks to what Jessica is lacking in herself. Whereas her friendship with Hope was a safe place where Jessica could be herself, unchanged and unharmed, her friendship with Marcus offers her a site for discovering what is unknown, even within her own head and heart.
I’m definitely getting Second Helpings.