Junior Summer — July: Trying to Be

My favorite part of this month is when Len propositions Jess and she keeps laughing, he explains that he was “trying to be rakish and sexy” (317).  Oh, Len.  Even when Jess is dying over your newly-acquired hotness in Second Helpings, I can’t consider you to be anything more than asexual.  Len, trying to be casual and sexy, Jess trying to be carefree and mature. This month is about trying to be.  And, mostly, ultimately, failing.

Megan McCafferty wisely uses the level of friendship that Len and Jess have.  While they were, for a time, close in high school, they drifted apart almost completely in college.  Here, they can fall back into old, comfortable (as comfortable as Len can be) habits, but they can also construct their narratives the way they want to, present the information that they’d like to.  Jessica pretends that she doesn’t think about Marcus.  Len informs Jessica’s mom that he is moving forward with his original plan, applying to Ivy League medical schools.  They could continue like this, but they don’t.

Len, drunk at the dive bar, confessing his lack of plan for the future, lamenting the mess that the current Most Likely to Succeed-ers made of themselves is such a wonderful example of the kind of connection you can have with people who knew you when you were younger, more sure of yourself, more certain about your ambitions.  But it’s also incredibly sad to consider: they’re dealing with the terrifying prospect of uncertainty and they are both, reluctantly, going at it alone.

In the end, Jessica outs herself as the one incapable of a fling.  She will never quite be the more carefree, worldly version of herself she tries to project with the confidence she puts on around Len (No, she corrects herself, he was a man — and foreign, when explaining her non-fling last summer.).  Her note betrays her worrying and anxiety.  She doesn’t say it but we all know what she must be thinking — what will Marcus, Len’s The Flu, think of this development?  

Things I would text Emily about in this chapter if we weren’t writing this blog:

Jessica’s digs at her mom for not going to college are SO MEAN.  I just wish she would be nicer to her mom.

The use of music in Len’s car is perfect.  

If you liked this, try that:

I can’t remember if I recommended this movie yet or not, but Kicking and Screaming perfectly captures how difficult the transition from life in college to life after college can be.  The anxieties that Len and Jess have in this chapter are magnified in this pretty perfect movie.  And don’t you want to see the movie that created the perfect, “I’ve been to Prague.  I mean I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague.”

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One thought on “Junior Summer — July: Trying to Be

  1. Ugh! Why is she always so mean to her mom? Is she worse in college than she was in high school? I think in high school it could be written off as typical friction between a teenage girl and her mother. Now Jess seems condescending.

    I love it when Len tries (and fails) to be rakish and sexy.

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