Second Helpings sees the return of Jessica Darling, along with the motley crew that makes up Pineville High. This wasn’t as simple a read as the earlier one, but decent anyways.
After having her heart broken by Marcus “Krispy Kreme” Flutie, Jessica Darling spends her summer holidays far from Pineville High, at a creative writing program. She has a crush on her teacher, which comes to nothing. Back in school, she has to avoid Flutie while obsessing about him, decide if she really will go to Columbia, wonder about the mystery Gossip Girl, while dealing with her running-fanatic dad, obnoxious sister and the inanities of the Clueless Crew.
When I reviewed Sloppy Firsts, I wondered if all the angst wouldn’t be overkill. It was, kind of, but not as bad as I thought. The book was a little too long: angst stretched out over what seemed like a billion pages made me a little headachy. Jessica is moody and mopey, but at least she realizes that she is Persona Negativa, that she whines more than she smiles. As much as she analyses everybody else, she also analyses herself. She also does a lot of things new: she takes a stand and speaks her mind more often, instead of just searing page after page of her journal. On rare occasions that she feels happy about something (her fervent wish to get into Columbia, her niece’s arrival, her bonding with her grandmother), her lucidity is a nice read. The final couple of pages, that is Jessica’s graduation address, I really loved; it echoed my feelings exactly.
“I believe that what we get out of life is what we’ve set ourselves up to get, so there’s no such thing as an inconsequential decision. Our destinies are the culmination of all the choices we’ve made along the way, which is why it’s imperative to listen hard to your inner voice when it speaks up. Don’t let anyone else’s noise drown it out… The real world, whether we like it or not, is right here, right now. All of this, every day, is important. Everybody matters. Everything we do has an effect on others, directly or indirectly, whether we realize it or not… For better or for worse, you have helped me become the person I was always meant to be: me. Yes. Me.”