…On Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty {spoiler-free}

Posted June 11, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 18 Comments

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
Series: Jessica Darling #2
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Publish Date: April 22, 2003
357 Pages
Source:  Library

“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year… The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn’t need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she’s already gotten the dirt from you know who.”

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household. –(summary from Goodreads)

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

My Thoughts: Okay, I need to go ahead and address the fact that this is the second book in a series and that it is almost unfair for me to throw this into my Contemporary Month without addressing the first book. So I’ll probably talk about them both, especially for my newer readers out there. I “pulled an Asheley” and read this book on a whim the other day and I feel the need to talk about it. NOW. So let’s talk.

(But first, you can read my thoughts on Sloppy Firsts HERE)

The first thing you need to know is this:
I finally caved, read the first book, and LOVED it.
BUT…I was hella frustrated at the ending.
I do not mean this in an awful way, and let me tell you why: THIS SERIES IS COMPLETED, FRIENDS. All I had to do was grab book two and go to town. Now, being the oddball that I am – I don’t typically read series books back-to-back. So I waited a few days. PLUS I was still mad at the ending, just a teensy bit. But…YOU should NOT let this deter you from reading Sloppy Firsts if you haven’t read it because it is so, so good. Believe me and take me seriously when I tell you to have Second Helpings ready to go when you finish. Because you’ll otherwise be chunking a book across the room.

The second thing you need to know is this:
I mentioned after Sloppy Firsts that
I have some issues with sweet Jessica Darling.
Let me explain/remind you all:

Jessica Darling is a girl with issues. Good grief, that girl has a ton of them! Sometimes I wanted to reach through Sloppy Firsts and slap her. TRUE STORY. But…I can see some progression in her character into Second Helpings. Not much…but there is some forward movement. And I applaud you, Jessica Darling. I do. I’m told that if I keep up with the series, she’s an awesome badass by the end. This excites me.

The third thing you need to know is this:
I need to make a Marcus Flutie clarification.
When I wrote my blog post for Sloppy Firsts, I actually said this:

I started this book wondering

I would like to say, right here before the world, “OH! I GET IT NOW.” I do. More Marcus Flutie, please! As in, let’s spread him out evenly among the pages of the rest of the books. And that’s about all I’m gonna say about that. 

I’m a big girl and can suck it up when I say something INCREDIBLY STUPID. *facepalm*

(Really, I do think Marcus is a bit of a dork. But sometimes I do go for dorks. And I still don’t get the red hair thing. If I can’t hear the voice, the hair means nothing to me, nothing at all. Do NOT send me hate mail or tweets over this. DO NOT.)

Who out there hasn’t read this series yet? Besides me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. There aren’t very many of us. I love that my reading friends are gently prodding me along. BUT I’m telling you all, this series is one of both labor and love. And here’s why:

Megan McCafferty writes hilariously. I love it to pieces. I laugh out loud, people look at me, and I just don’t even care. She has created Jessica Darling, who is completely darling, and she gives me the opportunity and the freedom to laugh at all of Jessica’s screw-ups…which makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER about my life. Y’all, it really does.

Second Helpings has a Jessica that is a little more sure of herself than she was in Sloppy Firsts, but she still makes some mistakes. She has opinions and doggone it, she holds onto them even when she really should just chill out a little bit. Second Helpings is filled with pain and love and a bazillion mixed signals, lots of inside jokes and playing games with one another. There’s this weird and uncomfortable almost love triangle that really isn’t (just go with me here), some secret couples, some couples that really should be kept secret because they’re pretty gross, just like ones you may remember from high school. This book has everything.

And the ending. Deep breath. Another deep breath. You know, I read this whole book and…just, that ending. I really loved it.

If you’re one of the few left (like me, don’t be afraid to admit it) that hasn’t read this series yet – JUST DO IT. DO IT!

As for me, I’m almost scared to keep going because I actually liked the ending of this one and OH GRACIOUS WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE THE ENDINGS OF THE OTHERS?? Thoughts, people who have already read it? The stress of this is very stressful.

Second Helpings will appeal to fans of

YA Contemporary
Humor, Lots of it!
Books with Issues: All kinds of issues.
Lovers of Marcus Flutie!
People who love red-headed men (apparently
there are a ton of you specifically)

Older YA Readers & Adult YA-Loving Readers

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
is currently available for purchase.


How about it friends?
Should I keep going?
Or should I stop while I’m ahead,
with an ending that I like?


Tell me how much you love this series.
Convince me to keep going!


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


18 responses to “…On Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty {spoiler-free}

  1. Okay, I reeeeeally need to read this series STAT! I have Sloppy Firsts sitting on my shelves and since its Contemp YA month…maybe I should put some of my fantasty reads on hold and pick this sucker up!

  2. Hey girl, I think BOTH of us need to buck up and read the rest of this series. I'm giving it a break for a few months though while I sit on the ending of Second Helpings most happily. I hear Perfect Fifths is great, but who's to say what we'll go through in the meantime. I CAN'T TAKE IT.

    I'm so glad you get the Marcus Flutie thing now, though I'm going to go out on a terrible limb and say he ventured over into the just about too cheesy category for me in this one. Still, they're both idiots for the bulk of this one. Bah! I still need to gather my own thoughts and get them down on 'paper'.

    • Heidi, I like some of these comments that actually give the advice (below) about the other three books. Because now I know what I'm heading into.

      Marcus…you say cheesy, I say dork. I think we're COMPLETELY on the same page, and it makes me laugh. We're so compatible with our reading, I think. And I completely agree on the idiocy of the two of them for the absolute bulk of this one. This is another book where I wanted to actually reach my arms thru the pages and squish their faces together. Marcus was too cheesy, but Jessica was too…something. In the end, it fit well.

      I think I need to sit on it for a little bit before I shatter it. BECAUSE I AM SCARED. SCARED!!

  3. The Jessica Darling series is one of my most favorite series EVER. And let me tell you, it is really awkward to say that during college and job interviews when your favorite book is a popular question. I grew up with Jessica, reading all the books while I was in high school. The first two were absolutely brilliant, and I completely understand where you are coming from with not getting Marcus at first – he was a really creepy dude at the beginning of the first book (I didn't like him that much either, and then I read Second Helpings, and needless to say, my permanent dream man is now named Dr. Marcus Darcy (Doctor Who/Jessica Darling/Pride and Prejudice)).

    My advice – tough it through Charmed Thirds. The book covers all four years of college in one book, and, to me, it was not up to par with the other books. I have always blamed it on how much time is covered in the book, but I can't wait to hear your opinions.

    With that said – keep reading. Fourth Comings was as good as the first two, and Perfect Fifths… Perfect Fifths is one of my most favorite books of all time. It changed my life. Twice.

    So keep going. Get through Charmed Thirds and Fourth Comings, which you may not agree with the ending of but for me was absolutely perfect, and Perfect Fifths – which is the best. ending. ever.


    • Okay! This is exactly what I was looking for! Perfect advice!

      I'll definitely keep with the series, but I do think I'll probably wait just a little bit to let the end of Second Helpings sit with me for a little while…particularly if I need to tough it through #3. I can hang, I can! I just really liked the end of book two.

      Thank you thank you thank you x 10000!!!

  4. I'm so glad you stuck with it and read Second Helpings! Now you kinda see why some of us act so flipped out and fangirly over Marcus Flutie:)That ending. Gah. LOVED it. Perfect!

    I will admit that the next book, Charmed Thirds, is my least fave of the three. So I am glad to hear Annamarie say to tough it out. I have Fourth Comings but haven't read it yet and it makes me feel so much better to hear that the 4th, and especially the 5th book, are well worth it:)

    Maybe after you and Heidi read Charmed Thirds we can all three read Fourth Comings together (a mini readalong!) That would be fun:))

    • Wasn't Annamarie's advice (above) so great?? That was exactly what I needed someone to tell me. I'm glad you're saying something similar about Charmed Thirds. It makes me feel better about going into it knowing that I probably won't LOVE it, but that I need to make it through to get to the ones that I most likely WILL love. All series are like that, though, right? We all have the books in the bunch that aren't our favorites? I'd much rather it be the third book and not the final books!

      We read similarly too, Heather, so I'm glad to see your words. They make me feel better. And yes, a mini-readalong sounds fun! I'm always up for reading along with someone. 🙂

    • Sign me up for that! And that IS great advice, and good to know. I didn't realize so much time was covered.

      I've also heard that Perfect Fifths is written in third person which seems like it'll be jarring after the epistolary style for so long, but I also hear such amazing things.

  5. I read Sloppy Firsts a few months ago and enjoyed it. It was such fun and I loved the author's style and wit but.. I was expecting more? (PLEASE DON'T HATE ME!) I'm still really eager to get a copy of Second Helpings though 🙂

    • Rebecca…I FELT THE SAME WAY. That ending was SO FRUSTRATING.

      That's why I listened to my friends and stuck with it and read Second Helpings, and I was glad I did.

      I don't hate you. I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND YOU! Trust me.

      I really like these books after two of them. Do I understand why everyone goes completely GAGA over them? Not yet, I don't. But I'm gonna stick with the series and perhaps it'll click. But I do like the second book more than the first one. 🙂

    • SO glad to hear it isn't just me! Now that you've said that you felt the same way, I'm more interested to start the second book. Now I wish I hadn't of given Sloppy Firsts away… There may be hope for me (and my feelings toward the books) yet! 🙂

  6. Asheley, I had never even heard of these books before your pots on them, so I'm far behind you! And it looks like it's a series that I should be reading? I'm a little nervous about the only small amounts of character progression within two books. And sounds like a lot of drama and missteps? But it looks like the consensus is that it's all worth it? I'll have to put this on my list.

    • Lauren I shared your concern about the small amount of progression after two books, but I've been assured by more than one person that if I stick with it I will love the person Jessica has become by the ending of the series. I CAN see that there is a difference in "beginning of book one" Jessica and "end of book two" Jessica, so my hopes are high!

      YES, lots of drama and missteps. BUT…also a lot of laughs. Which is actually kind of shocking to me, because I would NEVER EVER pick up this type of book on my own without the recommendation of several people behind it.

      Are these my favorite books ever? No. But this is my first contemporary SERIES (not standalone) and I'm a teensy bit proud of that. ALSO, I do appreciate the laugh-out-loud of it. Because I have laughed out loud and made people turn their heads and look at me, which is a little odd but true. I think this series is out of my character but I can appreciate where Jessica Darling is headed. I'm a bit nervous about book three, given what I've been told, but I'm gonna keep trudging through to the end because apparently the ending is SO WORTH IT. We'll see!

      But in all seriousness, I am gonna relish the end of book two for a little while. I liked it.

    • Okay I really like the humor aspect! Have you ever read anything by Sophie Kinsella? Are these books anything like those? Maybe it's a stupid comparison and these are nothing like Sophie's books – these seem more realistic? And deal with growing up. But the drama/missteps/humor/lack of growth made me think of them. I always laugh hysterically when I read one, but her heroines are completely ridiculous and do the stupidest things – and that shopaholic girl NEVER learns (that's my least favorite of her novels). They're in the genre that I like to call "indulgent nonsense" but still I love them.

    • Ya know, I've never read anything by Kinsella and have only really just recently begun to see that name pop up here and there. But you make it sound similar to this series with the laugh-out-loud, and it's always great to have a few of those titles in your back pocket for when you're in a reading rut or for between heavier or longer books. I think "indulgent nonsense" sounds like something I need to try out sometime.

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