Tag Archives: perfect fifths

Part Four: Enduring (Lasting) — the Forever Fantasy

I flew home very early on Wednesday morning, was late to the airport, almost missing my flight.  I forgot to pack Perfect Fifths.  I forgot to reread the chapter right before I left.  And then I forgot to write this post for two days.  It’s been very, very Jessica Darling of me.  But now, finally, I’m ready to discuss the final part of final book of one of my favorite series of all time.  Actually, it is my favorite series of all time.  But more on that later, probably.  

The last section of Perfect Fifths isn’t my favorite, despite trying its hardest to be.  Marcus Flutie stroking himself in the shower while thinking about Jessica?  Dyinggggg.  Finally getting the full story of the cougar, who I would LOVE to know more about?  Amazing.  But, like Emily mentioned, they spend so much time apart.  I like Jessica and Marcus together, not quite getting it right.  I like watching them try to navigate how excited and how terrified they are to be sitting across from each other at a small Starbucks table.  Those conversations seem real, but then we went on our whimsical journal through haikus and ended up in a fantasy.

I’m not complaining, of course.  I want desperately for Jessica and Marcus to end up together.  I want to finally hear all of the wonderful things we never heard Marcus say about Jessica, especially in those difficult college years.  I want to know that Jessica made the right decision in turning Marcus down when it didn’t feel right.  I want to know that her job is fulfilling, that her future is certain.  Megan McCafferty loves all of us, I’m certain of it, because she gives us all of this.  Anyone who has ever really like someone but felt like they just couldn’t get it right, longs for an ending exactly like this.  Jessica and Marcus will be together, and they will be together in New York City, Jessica’s city.  Yes, it’s possible that there was sacrifice on Marcus’s part for this to happen.  He may have chosen Columbia in hopes of running into Jessica, but for our girl, and for us, its just appearing, already perfect.  

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

I also really don’t care about Jessica’s dreams.

I love Bethany’s story.  E-car Jerry!  The best.

Something I’ve never been on board with (much like the haikus) was the Barry Manilow stuff.  I get why McCafferty is throwing all of this into the next novel, but it’s just seems to take away from what I really want to know about.  

If you liked that, try this: 

One of my favorite love stories about people clearly meant to be but often pulled apart by growing up and growing apart but (spoiler alert) ending up together is in the middle of a beautiful and quiet story about football in a small Texas town.  Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows and one of my favorite shows, and I can’t believe I didn’t recommend it sooner.  Jessica, in her job, surely wants to be Tami Taylor, and Jessica and Marcus are like a more-dramatic Julie and Matt Saracen.  Watch it, watch it, watch it!  All five season are on Netflix.  

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Part Four—Enduring (Lasting): Looks Like We Made It

I can hardly believe it. We’ve reached the end. And we all know what that means: the Marcus Flutie shower scene. As with the end of Second Helpings, I can’t even begin to talk analytically about the last section of Perfect Fifths, so a bulleted list it is!

  • They’re both so suspicious of each other!
  • Obviously Manda had to get one last pseudo-feminist rant in, ugh.
  • Of course Marcus is the one doing the striptease. And while Marcus is busy lasso-dicking, Jess falls asleep. What better way to say I don’t have time for games?
  • I’m so glad that “ten inches of New Jersey Whitesnake” makes a come back.
  • Greta sounds insufferable, but of course Marcus got cougared. And Older Women, Younger Men: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Cougars Through the Ages is an excellent title. It’s so creepily maternal that she would wash him.
  • I really don’t care about Jessica’s dreams. They feel like filler.
  • Amber is the best. I love how Jessica understands girls well enough to know that she shouldn’t mention her connection to the founder of Be You Tea Shoppe without having something cool to back it up, but Marcus just fumbles to relate. What an inadvertent creep.
  • I always forget how much time they spend apart, or at least how much time is devoted to it in this section.
  • That gift shop clerk is comedy gold.
  • It’s so weird to read this novel and be older than Jessica Darling.
  • “I’m a person! Not a musical instrument!”
  • People always react to Marcus in the most hilarious ways, especially the Fanilows.
  • I love imagining Bridget, Percy, and Hope getting the video of Marcus’s wonderfully sincere performance.
  • Obviously their transcendent karaoke performance can only be improved upon by listening to the original as you read about it.
  • It’s always refreshing to see how un-smooth Marcus can be.
  • Now that Jess and Marcus will be in grad school at the same time, they’ll finally be in synch (*NSYNC?)!

Part 3—Enduring (Putting up with): Truth and Dare

Jess and Marcus write
Senryu/Haiku (whatever)
Forever delayed

They pass the notebook
Punctuation and spaces say
More than words allow

Revisiting past
Triumphs (you yes you), ripping
Open old (cheating) wounds

It always comes back
To sex. Will they? Won’t they? Truth
And dare. All or nothing.

Writing senryu
Is harder than it would seem.
Tally Hall agrees.

Part Two — During: You were always bad at lying

Emily, like you, I often have trouble determining who is talking, especially when I start reading too quickly, but then once I take a step back and think about what they are saying, it seems so very obvious.  On rereading this, the differences between Jessica’s and Marcus’s motives in the conversation become quite clear.  Jessica is trying to hold herself together and to keep Marcus out.  Marcus is trying to not open up and let Jessica in wholly and completely.  He edits stories when he’s worried that she’ll realize too much and become freaked out — these realizations often have to do with her.  Jessica edits stories when she worries that Marcus will learn too much.  She’s not thinking about how her life affects his; she’s thinking about herself and the way that he always affects her.  She doesn’t want to let him in because she knows what can happen when she does.  He, remembering the power of this, too, exercises similar restraint.  Their conversations is full of false starts.  I always remember this part as an awkward beginning before a strong and easy connection, but that’s not the way it happens.  

I was also thinking about what you had mentioned about high school — Marcus doesn’t remember what Jessica does, suggesting that maybe she had reread her journals.  But Jessica doesn’t understand why she should guess Marcus’s major when he is so great at guessing her job.  In accordance with their different motives, Jessica has kept Marcus in her past, dwelling on what was.  Marcus imagines Jessica in the present, thinking about what is now.  Jessica guards herself because she so clearly remembers the pain.  So, maybe, like Marcus, we can forgive her for her terrible fake cramps?  Maybe.

If you liked that, try this: 

If you enjoy difficult yet rewarding conversations between two people who loved each but then had to leave each other, maybe to be together again, maybe to not be, then you absolutely must watch The Way We Were.  Robert Redford is a handsome, carefree man for whom things come easily.  Barbra Streisand is a fierce socialist who takes things too seriously.  They fall in love, but keep being pulled apart.  Guaranteed to make you cry and constantly imagine the situation when you could so confidently and elegantly swipe hair off of your ex’s face and say, just, “Your girl is lovely, Hubbel,” before walking away forever.

Part Two—During: Let’s Blame it on Byron

In the second section of Perfect Fifths, McCafferty gives us Marcus and Jessica’s unfiltered conversation, without the clutter of internal thoughts and second-guesses. After so much time spent apart in Charmed Thirds and Fourth Comings, so much uninterrupted dialogue between Jess and Marcus is refreshing. Clever banter during late-night phone calls brings Marcus and Jessica together in Sloppy Firsts, so it’s fitting that this exchange takes up a significant chunk of Perfect Fifths. But this conversation does not rely on Marcus providing a strange fact to prompt discussion, Marcus and Jessica now have a shared past and plenty of catching up to do.

I always find it surprising when Marcus doesn’t remember something about Jess’s past. He managed to remember details from conversations he overheard between Jessica and Hope when he was in a drug-addled stupor, but he can’t remember when Jess went to SPECIAL or their conversation outside Brandi’s office. The tongue kissing cousins conversation seems like such vital moment in the story of Marcus and Jessica, it’s astounding that Marcus has no recollection of it. Jessica claims that she only remembers this interaction because it was the first time she wrote about Marcus in her journal, which makes me wonder if she goes back and rereads her journals, or if the act of writing it down made it more memorable.

Stray Observations

  • Sometimes I have so much trouble keeping track of who’s talking.
  • Why is Jessica so reluctant to tell the story about Sunny?
  • I love that when Jessica exclaims “My high school crush-to-end-all-crushes almost had man sex with my ex,” (97), all Marcus can do is protest “almost?” (98).
  • Jessica’s clumsy attempt of faking her period is so hard to read! A “menstral tsunami in [her] uterous” (101), seriously? So embarrassing.

Though The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith doesn’t take place entirely in an airport, that’s where Hadley and Oliver meet-cute. Like Jessica, Hadley misses her flight and may not make it to a wedding—her father’s wedding to a woman she’s never met. She and Oliver start chatting in the waiting area and end up sitting next to each other on the flight to London and talking the whole way there. But what happens once they get off the plane?

Part One: Before — Remember How You Were?

It’s very fitting that Emily’s post was partly an ode to Natty because he’s someone who I think is very important to this novel.  Here, finally, not only do we get Marcus’s perspective, but we get his feelings.  If you know me, then you know I’m a girl who loves feelings.  I love journaling about them, I love talking about them, I love using the phrase “I have a lot of feelings about this.”  Marcus is not this kind of boy.  When Jessica cheats on him in Charmed Thirds, she’s upset because of his lack of emotions.  When he gives the journals back in Fourth Comings, his letter to Jessica is clearly heartfelt, but it also seems controlled.  He refrained from annotating the texts, just as he refrains from dwelling over her words.  Part of his overall zen-ness is a balanced and calm understanding of his own thoughts and actions and acceptance of others.  Although there are of course many advantages to this, one of the downsides is what feels like a lack of genuine emotion.  Finally, here we get it.

Of course, we get these emotions secondhand.  It is Natty who reminds Marcus — and, by extension, us — of the way he mourned Jessica after she turned down his proposal and broke up with him.  Natty tells us how he couldn’t shower, how he was devastated.  Of course we knew that Marcus loved Jessica.  But we knew it because of the way he was happy, of the way he was persistent and the way he made heartfelt, grand gestures.  Maybe it’s just because of my own tendency to cry and journal about absolutely everything, but knowing how sad Marcus was felt very important to me.  We always knew that Marcus, or the lack of Marcus, could destroy Jessica.  Now we know Jessica held the same power over him.  Perfect Fifths starts on an equal playing field, and I love that.  

Things i would text Emily about if we weren’t writing this blog: 

I’m always so embarrassed for Jessica when she lies about having her period.  She does a terrible job with it, and it draws more attention to idea of sex, having it and not having it, then not saying anything would.

I don’t know if you knew this, but Megan McCafferty once wrote on her blog, or maybe on the news section of her website, about how she wasn’t sure what her fifth book would be or if she would have one — I remember her once saying something about a 10-year reunion — but that she heard of a rumor about a Breakfast Club sequel where the characters were trapped in an airport.  And that’s when she immediately knew what this novel would be.  Love it!  

If you liked that, try this: 

My post is so late because I’ve been distracted by being home on Thanksgiving Break, so I’m going to recommend the book that I read over break: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.  This novel is narrated by a Greek chorus of a generation of gay men who died of AIDS as they watch the sometimes overlapping stories of young gay men, including two ex-boyfriends who attempt to break the world record for kissing.  Speaking of emotions, I cried all over this story.  

Part One—Before: You Know I Can’t Smile Without You

We’re finally here—Perfect Fifths! It’s been three and a half years since we last saw our girl, and it’s been that long since she and Marcus have seen each other. Jessica is late late late for her flight the Virgin Islands, where she’s supposed to officiate Percy and Bridget’s wedding. Marcus and Natty are just getting back from a volunteer trip to New Orleans. And then—BAM—Jessica and Marcus collide. One of my favorite parts about this novel is that we finally get Marcus’s perspective. And he’s still got it bad for Jess.

Thank goodness for Young Natty and his unlikely friendship with Marcus. Marcus hasn’t really had any actual friends before this point. He was friends with Heath, but they were too high and Heath died too soon. Later, Marcus had Len, but Marcus was never honest with Len, particularly with the Len/Jess matchmaking gambit. Natty may be an unrepentant douchebag (or just 22 and entitled), but he’s the perfect foil to a sadder but wiser Marcus. Natty makes it impossible for Marcus to take himself to seriously.

My recommendation is based entirely on the fact that Len wrote a hit song about Jessica and Marcus. In Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend Evan, because he’s a self involved jerk and she doesn’t look back as he screams, “Audrey, wait!” Then Evan writes a song about the break up, performs it with his band the same night, and the song becomes a huge hit. Being infamous makes Audrey’s life pretty complicated.