This is an idea I stole from Maude Kip. I love the idea of thinking back on a book or series you’ve loved in the past. It’s fun for me and hopefully I can get a few people interested in something they’ve never read before, or remind them of a book that they haven’t thought about in years.
My all time favorite series of books is, hands down, the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. This was the series for me that sent me to the bookstore to get several of the books almost as soon as they were put on the shelf. The book that started it all was Sloppy Firsts. It was released in 2001 when I was 14 and in 9th grade, though I didn’t find it until I was in 10th grade. And I immediately fell in love with it. It could have had a little to do with it being the first “chick lit” book that I ever read since I found it in the fiction section of a local book store, so I felt extremely mature and a little scandalous buying it since I didn’t know what sort of content was in it at the time, but I think the main reason was that I understood Jessica. I liked to believe that she would have related to me if she were a real person. That was something that I needed at that age like many people do when they’re teenagers. It’s written in journal format from Jessica’s point of view and that was something I was really into when I was in high school. Perhaps I felt closer to the characters that way.
Sloppy Firsts is about a girl whose best friend moves from New Jersey to Tennessee leaving Jessica without anyone who knew her in the same way that Hope did. When I was in 10th grade, my best friend (and arguably my only friend at the time) had to leave our school and we rarely saw each other again until college. It’s about Jessica’s growth as a young adult after losing someone she had connected with from childhood. When your best friend is no longer next to you in class or walking the same hallways as you to pass notes or simply send a much needed reassuring smile your way, it hurts and you can feel empty without them. This book helped to fill that void for me. Jessica was helped in other ways and reading her life helped me with mine immensely. If I had to choose one book that changed my life, it would be this one.
It feels wrong to write a post about Sloppy Firsts and not mention Marcus Flutie. I’ll just say that Jessica and Marcus are one of my favorite romantic pairings from literature, ever. Unexpected, challenging, deep, romantic, life changing. Those are just a few words I can use to describe this amazing relationship. Reading their story is a lot more interesting than anything I can attempt to write about them. Trust me. If I could write about them half as well as McCafferty does, I would.
This book was released in 2001 and the final book came out in 2009. From 10th grade to my junior year in college, I felt like I grew up with Jessica, and Sloppy Firsts is a book I can always go back to time and time again. There’s a current middle grade series about Jessica that I’ve yet to read, but it’s amazing that other girls (and boys) can now pick up a book about Jessica a little earlier than I did and possibly grow with her as well.
Is there a book that has helped you out in a time of need?