A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?