Review: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1) by Megan McCafferty

Title:  Sloppy Firsts
Author:  Megan McCafferty
Series:  Jessica Darling #1
Publisher:  Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Publication Date:  August 28, 2001
Pages:  280
Format/Source:  Paperback/Borrowed from Library

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult, New Adult/Contemporary

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?
A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. (From the back cover)

A Second Chance for Sloppy Firsts…

I read this book a few years ago through the (now defunct) Visual Bookshelf on Facebook.  They had an Influential Readers Program where we could get copies (mostly digital copies) of books for free and review them for Visual Bookshelf.  At the time, I really wasn’t as enthralled with Young Adult books as I am now. So the first time I read Sloppy Firsts, I wasn’t extremely impressed.  But then I started this blog I saw a lot of other bloggers rave about this series, so I decided to give it another chance.  And I’m really glad I did!

Wonderful Humor…

I’m really surprised I didn’t like this book more the first time I read it.  I mean, Jessica is full of the best sarcastic comments, and I love sarcasm!  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other:  Pretty or smart.  Guess which one I got.  You’ll see where it got me.”

“After all, you can only be in a bad mood for so long before you have to face up to the fact that it isn’t a bad mood at all.  It’s just your sucky personality.”

“No emotion is more squirmy than feeling embarrassed for someone else.”

I totally agree with that last one – I hate watching movies or TV shows where characters are constantly embarrassing themselves, because I get so embarrassed for them!  And another line I really like was when Jessica is describing how her sister picks up accents from wherever she has been, and after spending time in Europe, she has picked up a European accent and Jessica’s reaction is, “This was worse than Madonna after Evita.”  I just love this humor!

More Good-ness…

I really liked that the book’s format is composed of letters and journal entries, and I loved all the extra lists that she included.  Like the lists of the items in her friends’ bedrooms and what she learns about each of them from those items.

And I really liked how the story wasn’t a straight love triangle.  Sure, Jessica’s friend, Scotty, has a crush on her and there’s the whole thing with Marcus. But she also has had a crush on Paul Parlipiano for forever, and Pepe, a boy in her Spanish class, has a crush on her too, and she has some sparks with a guy, Cal, whom she meets at her sister’s wedding.  This, to me, seems like a much more realistic high school experience than a simple love triangle.

A Bit Dated?

In my original review of Sloppy Firsts, I commented on how this book is set in the year 2000, and there are a lot of pop culture references to that time period.  I still believe that a lot of today’s teens might miss a few of the references, but I think they’ll recognize a lot of them.  And this book is perfect for people like me who were close to Jessica’s age in 2000 – lots of nostalgia!

My rating for Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty:

4 big stars.  I was laughing out loud during a lot of this book, and I want to read the rest of the series as soon as possible!  I definitely liked this book a lot more the second time around.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Random House
You may also enjoy:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson │ Paper Towns

Disclaimer:  I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.  I was in no way compensated for this review.


  1. Kate@Midnight Book Girl

    May 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I seriously need to give this series a try! I remember when it first came out, but to be honest the title kind of put me off from it, then I kind of forgot about it. Now I feel like I'm the only one among our little blogger circle who hasn't read it! ;)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Yeah, the title was a turn-off for me in the beginning, too. I still really don't like it too much. But don't worry – Courtney hasn't read it either! But it's really cute and I hope to be able to read the rest of the series soon!

  2. Bittner

    May 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    This one does sound really cute. It sounds like an older/American version of Georgia Nicolson. I bet I would like it. Usually I hate it when books get too dated. I hate it when you are just reading along, minding your own business, and then BAMM!!! out of nowhere they reference Kings of Leon and you are like "Whoa what the hell?" But when a book is full of pop cultural reference and so those moments are intended, it doesn't bother me as much.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Yep, I think it probably is pretty similar to the Georgia Nicolson series! I think you'd enjoy it.

      And I totally agree about those random pop culture references, when a book doesn't have any and then all of a sudden it makes one very specific reference. But this book, while it had a lot of references, they were funny and nostalgic for me, so I liked them!

  3. fakesteph

    May 15, 2012 at 2:55 am

    GUYSSSS… this book changed my life. I'm so totally serious. I related to Jessica in a way I hadn't related to anyone–fictional or real–in a long time and it pulled me back from this extreme isolation I had found myself in and gave me hope for the future and in love. That even though I was bitter and jaded, I didn't have to be and sighhh…. the first two are my favorite, the second two freaked me out and the fifth was a bit of a let down, but it ended happy so I'm okay. This series is about growing up and I seriously love them. One of my favorite quotes… it seemed to define my life when I read it (22 just out of college) is this: "You get older, but you never feel grown up". Sigh… sorry. I love Jessica and Marcus and everyone in her world. It felt more real to me at a time when I could have just floated away and even though it is fiction, it grounded me back into a real reality.

    1. fakesteph

      May 15, 2012 at 2:57 am

      I also started journaling when I read this and was OBSESSIVE about it until book five came out. Now I carry my journal around, but I don't write in it the way I should.

    2. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      It's so nice when you find books that really speak to you – that really can make you feel ALL THE THINGS and make you feel like there's someone out there that totally gets you. I'm so glad I reread this book because I really liked it the 2nd time around. I hope to read the rest of the series soon!

  4. Chelsey Lynn

    May 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I just found your blog today and I love it!! Great reviews! Your opinions are so well thought through!

    New Follower here :)

    Chelsey@Charming Chelsey's

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments and for following! I'm off to check out your blog!

  5. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    May 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I'm glad you liked it the second time around. Sometimes the first time you read a book you're just not in the right mood for it which affects how you feel about the book. I enjoy pop culture references, especially if they are from the 90's. I'm a complete sucker for all 90's references (and the late 80's cause they blend together with the early 90's for me).

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Yeah, in this one she likes a lot of things that her older sister likes, so there are some 80's references, as well as some late 90's references! Great nostalgia! ;)

  6. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    May 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I'm happy to hear you gave it another try and ended up liking it. It sounds cute, and I like the idea that I could connect with a lot of the references being that age in 2000. Sounds like it's got a great amount of humour to it as well. I love your review and can't wait to see what you think of the rest of the series!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 17, 2012 at 3:57 am

      Yeah, it was a really cute, funny read! I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series!

  7. Bengal Reads

    May 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Oooo that is great how you re-read it and liked it more the second time around than you did the first! I would really like to check this series out… I love funny! Thanks for the great review :D

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      May 24, 2012 at 3:28 am

      Yeah, I'm really glad I re-read it because I think I'd be missing out if I didn't read the rest of the series! I hope to get the 2nd book from my library soon. This one was really good – very funny and sarcastic. You should definitely check it out!

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