First, dear reader, let me apologize: this unexpected week-long break in the writing was my fault. A very Jessica Darling move, I might add — just not writing, not explaining, not apologizing. Emily sent me a gentle reminder email on Monday, when my once-promised-for-Friday Wednesday post still hadn’t been written. Should we skip a week? she asked. I gratefully accepted the suggestion.
When I first read Charmed Thirds, I devoured it. I wanted only to be back in Jessica’s world, wanting only to know more about her love with Marcus, her friendships with Bridget and Percy, her run-ins with the rest of the Pineville crowd, her inescapable family. And I knew a few things: I knew that Marcus would still, always be in her life. I knew that she would maintain some sort of relationship with the rest of her graduating class. Megan McCafferty was telling us a story, and stories like these often have rules. For the most part, when taken as a whole, the novels in this series follow those rules. But when you look closely at chapters you once breezed through, longing for another postcard, another bus back to Pineville, you feel the loss and the aching that Jessica must have felt: These people are not the people of my life. They are just the people of my now.
It’s fitting that Jessica takes a break from the larger story of her own life in this chapter, the chapter where she is actively listening to other people’s stories. For maybe the first time in the series, the Marcus and Jessica relationship is almost completely on hold. Postcards bookend the chapter, but the middle is filled with men that don’t make it past this novel. GOPunks and married grad students are not the great loves that we remember for our girl. Dexy, while a great character, one I would love to see brought to life in my unmade but brilliant television show of the series, is not the first or even third best friend we’ll think of for Jess. Like the lost summers of so many of our college years, Jessica is drifting away from herself, focusing on the stories of others. And after the self-centered winter we just had, I welcome the change.
Things I would text Emily about in this chapter if we weren’t writing this blog:
When I first read this I was SO UPSET that Jess would consider anything with the grad student because of her relationship with Marcus. On this reading, I was screaming at her to sleep with someone else. He is far away, ignoring you!
I’m always tempted to recreate the posters and hang them up on my wall with yarn. Is that too much? Don’t answer I know it is.
If you liked that, try this:
Oral histories, not just small stories, are incredibly fascinating. I briefly thought that my MLIS would lead to my becoming an oral historian, working at an archive that focused on collecting women’s history. But, guess what — someone at Schlesinger already has that job. If you are similarly interested in hearing history through stories, especially ones about tv shows, here are three of my favorites: