First, I must apologize for the tardiness of this post. I was holding a baby!
One of the best things about the Jessica Darling series is that Megan McCafferty isn’t afraid to make Jessica unlikable. In fact, for long stretches of the third and fourth book, I take a time out from reading to yell at Jess. She can be so frustrating. What’s even better about these books is that the ways in which Jess is frustrating or unlikable are often the same ways that I am. Even though I don’t agree with her, I can certainly understand her.
Spring, for some reason, is often depicted in movies and television as the season when everyone starts pairing off and hooking up. Pineville is no exception because, of course, it’s prom season. Jessica doesn’t want to go to prom, she want to hear about other people going to prom, and she doesn’t care about what happens at prom. Except, of course, that she also does. I’m not invalidating Jess’s feeling of not caring. I truly believe that she doesn’t want to go. But she also wants to go, she doesn’t want to feel left behind by her friends, and she wants to feel just as wanted and appreciated. She wants to fit in and is resentful that she can’t and jealous of those who do, but she doesn’t want to sacrifice anything to do it. And I really love that about her.
I yelled at Jessica when she so quickly dismissed the idea of therapy instead of discussing it further, since she knows that she’s not feeling as calm or happy or healthy as she wants to. I yelled at her when she was kind of a jerk to Scotty over the phone, even if he was also being a jerk by calling her in the first place. But I love that she lets herself feel hurt when the Clueless Crew and Hy don’t invite her shopping. I love that she asks Scotty to be her date, but doesn’t just date him, even if she thinks being normal will make everything okay. Unlikable narrators can be frustrating, but they’re also the most rewarding. I always praise McCafferty’s use of language and perfect pop culture references, but really, the perspectives and emotions of Jessica’s are so spot on that they should get the center stage for praise.
Things in this chapter that I would text Emily about if we weren’t writing this blog:
The only off description for me in this whole novel, the one that stood out to me the first time I read it, is Jessica’s discussion of prom dresses. No one had above the knee prom dresses in 2000. No one.
The smoking in the bathroom scene is so stressful. I don’t remember anyone in our high school bathrooms smoking, and we certainly didn’t have a code about it. I would have messed it up all the time.
Jessica’s nighttime runs were the only time that I ever thought running seemed cool and like something I could be into.
If you liked that try this:
If you like flawed but realistic heroines and focuses on female friendship, then you should see Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, which is currently in movie theaters.