January 23, 2006
This funny, sympathetic installment in Jessica Darling's story (Sloppy Firsts
and Second Helpings
) picks up the summer after her freshman year at Columbia University. The precocious Jersey girl, now a savvy city slicker, has picked a major (psychology), landed an internship at a hip Brooklyn magazine and managed to stay together with her high school boyfriend, reformed bad boy Marcus Flutie, for the entire school year. McCafferty follows Jessica through three years of college, chronicling her academic and extracurricular endeavors, her romantic and financial woes, all in Jessica's frank, exuberant voice. While she kisses a Republican, lusts after hot Spanish grad student Bastian and ventures a clumsy hookup with dormmate Kieran, Jessica expends a lot of energy agonizing over her long-distance relationship with Marcus, now a student at an unaccredited Buddhist university in California. The snappy writing, au courant wordplay (e.g., Jessica affectionately dubs indie-rock boys "bright-eyed, death-cab cuties") and easy-to-relate-to plot turns will keep eager teens—and teens-at-heart—turning the pages, but designating a high school romance as the novel's primary engine leaves the story stagnant.