Second Helpings

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Second Helpings Book Poster Image
Readers will devour fun, surprisingly rich sequel.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Lots of sex talk, including an oversexed roommate, characters for whom sex "doesn't seem to mean anything," and the main character (who shares the name of a porn star) ultimately loses her virginity.


Lots of naughty talk


The narrator mentions products such as Cap'n Crunch and Baby Ruth.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking; talk of a character who died of an overdose and another in recovery; Jessica takes Ecstacy at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book contains plenty of raunchy language and mature sexual material, including Jessica Darling's "lust" for her writing teacher, heavy public displays of affection at school from a class couple, and the narrator's own first time.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabarber09 March 17, 2009

Very Relateable

As a senior in high school, it seems like I know just what Jessica Darling is going through. Her self esteem, love, and friend issues are bigger than just the b... Continue reading
Adult Written byjess7756 February 4, 2009

this book is awesome!!!!!!!

this book is an awesome book... it basically tells life as it is... theres nothing irrelevant in this book that a teen shouldnt know... it is pretty much a part... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byZarashen September 21, 2010
Teen, 17 years old Written bystarinatstars03 February 26, 2010


Jessica Darling is just your average teenager, well besides her ivy league smartness. I think that McCafferty deals with a lot of real teen issues that are happ... Continue reading

What's the story?

After a summer writing camp, Jessica Darling returns to her high school with a new goal: to free herself from her New Jersey suburb and attend college at New York City's Columbia University. But first she has to survive a senior year seeing Marcus, her ex-love, fake popular girls, and a surprising breakup. She's also censored by the school administration for a controversial editorial, and must face the release of a fictional book written by an undercover student and based on her school (including a character very much like her). The events of Sept. 11, 2001, and parental pressure even threaten her big-city dream. Will Jessica be brave enough to go after what she wants?

Is it any good?

Readers who didn't catch Jessica Darling in her debut (Sloppy Firsts) may have trouble catching up here, but they still will find this book a fast, fun read. It also imparts an important message about listening "to your inner voice when it speaks up." It's easy to relate to funny, smart Jessica, whose list and emails to her best friend pack personality into her senior year confessional. Readers may not believe her '80s fascination, but they will enjoy her self-deprecation, and her smart insights about high school life and growing up. Other characters, while often stereotypical (the jerky jock, the shallow popular girls), add humor and prove what "an outsider among the insiders" she truly is.

The plotting is straightforward, and careful readers should be able to guess what happen to star-crossed Jessica and Marcus, where she will go to school -- and even who is writing the snarky gossip column. But readers will still enjoy cheering her on along the way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sexual attitudes presented, and how they match up with your teen's point of view. Does it seem like a rare thing to be a virgin while a senior in high school, as Jessica is? She discusses the pros and cons of abstinence-only education with other classmates. What's your opinion?

Book details

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate