Book Review

Holly Hitchen

What do you do when your best friend moves away, you’re a cross country star who hates to run, and you feel like the only virgin on the planet? Well if you’re 16-year-old Jessica Darling, you start a journal to spill out all your neurosis.

Megan McCafferty’s novel “Sloppy Firsts,” published in 2001 by Three Rivers Press, follows Jess as she navigates the confusing world of high school while dealing with the loss of her best friend, an event Jess views as the biggest trauma of her young life. Her journal entries detail her exploits with a group of not-really-friends she deems the “Clueless Crew” in suburban New Jersey. In addition to being a certified genius, Jess is also the star of her schools cross country team, a position her parents see as her ticket to a full ride at the college of her choice. The only problem: Jess hates running and the pressure her dad puts on her.

Just when Jess thinks her life can’t get any worse, in comes the mysterious, former druggie Marcus Flutie, who seems to be paying a lot of attention to Jess. As their relationship progresses, Jess finds a kindred spirit in Marcus and sees him as the boy who’s finally going to take her virginity.

But when do things like that ever go according to plan? The relationship between Jess and Marcus will have you flipping ahead chapters just to see what happens.

McCafferty tells the story of Jessica Darling in such a sarcastic and funny way that you’ll be right there with Jess as she battles what she sees as life- ending traumas. McCafferty writes in such a relaxed way that it’s not hard to believe that you’re reading a teenage girls journal. By far the best part of the novel is the sarcasm used to describe Jess’s view on everyday situations.

“Sloppy Firsts” is more than just the typical high school story. It’s edgy, and hands down a great read.