I’m not exactly celebrating.
When I lied to my mom about getting my period, it was the easiest escape route at the time. I didn’t think much of it because I was sure that sooner or later, it would turn out to be true. So every twenty-eight days I take tampons out of the box under the sink and flush them down the toilet to make her think that I’m cycling as I should.
But I can’t tell her now that my ovaries aren’t back from vacation. She’ll not only freak out and ground me for lying, but she’ll make me go to the gyno as well. And the very thought of getting up in the stirrups and letting a total stranger go elbow deep and up to my uterus … Jesus Christ!
This is not a book about teen pregnancy. This is not a book that advocates or condemns teen pregnancy. This is a book about Jessica Darling. Jess is many things – a runner, a daughter, an academic, a sister, and a friend – but pregnant is certainly not one of them. No sir. In order to be pregnant one would have to engage in sexual intercourse first, and that would require actually snaking the attention of her high school crush – Paul Parlipiano. But even though they run on the same track team Paul doesn’t even know she exists. So pregnancy, my dear friends, is so far from the reason Jess’s period is MIA it’s not even funny.
The real explanation is far more boring, far less scandalous, far more Jessica. Jess, you see, is a runner. She’s on the track team and she trains a lot. She has trouble sleeping and she’s really skinny. Even after her grueling training sessions, when she can’t sleep in the middle of the night, Jess gets up and goes running, hoping that she’ll tire herself out so she can sleep. She runs and runs and runs and runs. Jess knows this is the reason she hasn’t got her period, and although she knows its bad to go for so long without menstruating, her running seems to be a bigger priority.
Then one night, while out running, Jess injures her ankle. She manages to drag herself home limping and crying and moaning in pain. Exit excessive running here. In fact, exit all running here. At least now her dad can’t bug her about her track meets anymore, not being able to actually participate and all. But what about the middle of the night? How is she going to get to sleep now?
Enter Marcus Flutie. He’s the resident bad boy, the one everyone loves to hate. Turns out that he and Jess have far more in common than she originally thought – not that she was thinking of him, no sir, someone like Jessica Darling would never be thinking of someone like Marcus Flutie – and talking to Marcus in the middle of the night seems to be the only way Jess can get herself to sleep. Jess learns many things about Marcus, but the most important of all is that Marcus is so not the person she thought he was. Jess realises that she’s falling for him, but brushes it aside because she knows that Marcus doesn’t date girls like her. Besides, he’s got a floozy girlfriend anyway. She sees them groping in the hallways all the time. Gross. But Jess is beautifully naïve and often doesn’t see what’s right in front of her. Will Marcus lead good, wholesome Jess down a path of disobedience and destruction, like everyone thinks he will? And honestly, how can she stand him anyway? No one gets it… no one at all.
Jessica’s voice is raw and fresh. Megan McCafferty captures what so many teens are thinking but do not say. Jessica Darling is so real that she could be me, or you, or the girl sitting next to you on the bus. I bought every single word that came out of her mouth. Her way of looking at things brings light and humour to even the saddest and darkest of situations, and makes for one hell of an entertaining read. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but you’ll certainly feel every pang, every stomach churn that good ol’ Jess goes through. As her name suggests, she’s every bit the teenage darling.
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I positively cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book in the series, Second Helpings.
P.S I think I’ve come down with a case of Flutie Fever. Watch out, I hear it’s very contagious.