Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling Series #3)

Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling Series #3)

4.3 94
by Megan McCafferty

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Jessica Darling’s in college!

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as

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Jessica Darling’s in college!

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope.

But Jessica soon realizes that her bliss might not last. She lands an internship at a snarky Brooklyn-based magazine, but will she fit in with the überhip staff (and will she even want to)? As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she end up falling for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or the hot (and married!) Spanish grad student she’s assisting on a summer project . . . or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it through college now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?

With hilarious insight, the hyperobservant Jessica Darling struggles through her college years—and the summers in between—while maintaining her usual mix of wit, cynicism, and candor.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Charmed Thirds is a witty, biting, and altogether true accounting of a girl’s journey to young womanhood, complete with all of the cringe-inducing, hilarious moments of love, shame, and uncertainty that readers will remember from their own lives.” —Jennifer Weiner, author of Goodnight Nobody and Good in Bed

“Megan McCafferty rocks! Her sharp wit and keen satirical eye make her books automatic must-reads.” —Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries series and Size 12 Is Not Fat

“McCafferty captures the college years with incredible grace and insight. Charmed Thirds is a wondrous, heroically honest trip back to a time when you were two-thirds done becoming yourself, and tumbling head over heels the rest of the way.” —Joseph Weisberg, author of 10th Grade

“Megan McCafferty’s series about Jessica Darling (in college now) has only improved with age. Charmed Thirds is funny, smart, and irresistible.” —Valerie Frankel, author of The Accidental Virgin and Fringe Girl

“Megan McCafferty puts Jessica Darling through college in Charmed Thirds, and in the process turns her from a tart-tongued New Jersey high school philosopher into a heart-wrenching representation of all things uncertain. If she’s not careful, she might end up with a heroine for our times.” —Ned Vizzini, author of Be More Chill and It’s Kind of a Funny Story

"Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings and now Charmed Thirds may be about a young woman's amusing and rocky journey to adulthood, but they are smart and accomplished enough to delight all readers. Jessica's an original, but her problems are universal, and McCafferty is formidably adept at channeling her self-deprecating, wise-guy voice. If you don't see yourself in Jessica Darling, you're not looking hard enough"
- Chicago Tribune

"It's Jessica, her wit and, especially, her utterly droll take on life, that draws readers (fans of the series include adult women as well as teens) into McCafferty's books. Entirely too smart for her own good, Jessica offers brilliant and cutting insights into the world of the adolescent about-to-be-a-woman"
- Chicago Sun Times

From the Hardcover edition.

Jessica Darling continues to grow, groove, lust, and hook up. In this witty follow-up to Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, Jessie studies and romps through three years at New York's Columbia University. When not soaking up Ivy League ambience, this exuberant undergraduate is busy salvaging her long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend Marcus Flutie, now a candidate for nirvana at an unaccredited Buddhist college in California. As usual, Jessie's perceptions are somewhat less ethereal but probably more interesting to readers. A stylish teen funfest.
Publishers Weekly
This funny, sympathetic installment in Jessica Darling's story (Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings) picks up the summer after her freshman year at Columbia University. The precocious Jersey girl, now a savvy city slicker, has picked a major (psychology), landed an internship at a hip Brooklyn magazine and managed to stay together with her high school boyfriend, reformed bad boy Marcus Flutie, for the entire school year. McCafferty follows Jessica through three years of college, chronicling her academic and extracurricular endeavors, her romantic and financial woes, all in Jessica's frank, exuberant voice. While she kisses a Republican, lusts after hot Spanish grad student Bastian and ventures a clumsy hookup with dormmate Kieran, Jessica expends a lot of energy agonizing over her long-distance relationship with Marcus, now a student at an unaccredited Buddhist university in California. The snappy writing, au courant wordplay (e.g., Jessica affectionately dubs indie-rock boys "bright-eyed, death-cab cuties") and easy-to-relate-to plot turns will keep eager teens-and teens-at-heart-turning the pages, but designating a high school romance as the novel's primary engine leaves the story stagnant. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This third novel in the series about Jessica Darling contains many firsts for the sarcastic queen of quips from New Jersey, including getting along with her sister, playing aunt, an internship, and college dating. Heroine Jessica is well into her sophomore year at Columbia, sex starved and missing reformed bad-boy Marcus, who has adopted Buddhism, becoming more of an enigma and further complicating their quirky relationship. The book takes readers sporadically through Jessica's college years, tracking major and heartrending experiences for her and a cast of familiar characters. Jessica's letters to Hope (doing well at Rhode Island School of Design, thank-you-very-much), snide asides, and invented vocabulary are quintessential McCafferty; new gems include Poetry Spam (haikus created from junk e-mail) and Google stalking. The continued worship for all things 1980s, coupled with up-to-the-minute pop-culture references to music and fads will make fans cheer, but too many allusions to past events will send new readers searching for other titles in the series. Jessica's voice is steadfast as she rolls with the punches that life throws. The college antics can mostly be taken in stride. After all, it took for Jessica to finally hook up with Krispy Kreme, her ad nauseum raving about her newfound sexuality is healthy, but it occasionally delves into the TMI zone (too much information). As recommended with other books in the series, plop it into adult fiction-teen readers will find it and the fourth book that is in the works. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed bookrecommended for Young Adults). 2006, Crown, 400p., $21. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Beth Gallaway
Library Journal
After Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, what else but Charmed Thirds? Jessica has finally made it to Columbia University, but will she find true love with any number of eligible (and not-so-eligible) young men? Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Jessica Darling is back. She is now attending Columbia University and is still in love with her high school boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. But Marcus is going to a Buddhist college in California, so they don't get to see one another very often. As perhaps befits a college student, Jessica has gotten a lot franker about sex, and about life in general, after some time on her own. She ages from a freshman to a graduate; gets an internship at an outwardly hip, but actually dysfunctional magazine; makes (and loses) new friends; and even plans to move in with a guy. She also comes to terms with her parents and her sister. She loves Marcus and wants to stay true, but still finds herself in wildly inappropriate hookups-with a punk Republican, with a married man, and with an ex-boyfriend. Several of Jessica's old flames and acquaintances reappear-McCafferty has developed a world of characters from Pineville, NJ, who are all changing and growing in believable (but often surprising) ways. Jessica has matured, and in some ways her lovable neuroses have turned darker-she now has more in common with other 20-something chick-lit heroines. Fans of the first two books will be a ready-made audience for this one.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In McCafferty's third Jessica Darling novel, Jessica goes to college and finds the world is not exactly her oyster. When last we left the always-journaling and too-smart-for-her-own-good Jessica (Second Helpings, 2003, etc.), she was leaving the stifling confines of her high school in Pineville, N.J., and launching herself into the adult world-via Columbia University. Unlike high school, where her smarts and antisocial nature somehow didn't keep her from being pretty popular, Jessica's college experience has been less than she desired. This is firstly reflected in the fact that her journals, which previously reported on most every development in her minutely observed life, now focus on the breaks and summers that punctuate her three years at Columbia. A directionless psychology major, Jessica spends most of her time obsessing over why she isn't succeeding as she assumed she would, as well as what's going on with her sometime-boyfriend, Marcus, the reformed bad-boy to whom she lost her virginity. While Jessica is struggling to make new friends and keep in touch with old ones, Marcus is attending a Buddhist college on the West Coast, making him even more aloof and hard-to-read. In Second Helpings, Jessica was just too good to be true-too smart, too witty, too up on every trend. Now, life is throwing her a lot of curves, and she comes off seeming more mature in her actions and in her writing. The conclusion is uplifting but realistic, with no white knights appearing in Jersey. Surprisingly mature and witty novel that should snag more than a few adult readers who well remember their college years.

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Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Jessica Darling Series, #3
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The First

I keep rereading Marcus's latest haiku, printed out precisely for this purpose. How did he come up with Poetry Spam? Where did he get the idea to turn his junk e-mail into poems? I marvel at his talent for revealing the hidden beauty in ordinary things.

I miss him and I know he misses me, too.

There's nowhere to sit in Port Authority unless you buy something. I got booted from Au Bon Pain because I stupidly disposed of my $4 shot glass of orange juice. The eagle-eyed Garbage Guard informed me that I was no longer allowed to occupy one of the umbrellaed tables. I left, dejected and dehydrated.

I'm now at Timothy's World Coffee, where there are no open indoor umbrellas to bring me bad luck. I'm sitting on a stool, breaking in my new journal, trying to take teeny-tiny sips from my overpriced bottle of Poland Spring water just so I can preserve my right to be here. I'm broke, and there aren't any water fountains for free, germ-ridden refills.

This is bad because I can chug gallons at a time. Accutane sucks every drop of moisture out of my body. I am one large flake of dandruff. The corners of my mouth are split open and bleeding, and I have to spread Carmex beyond my lip line, which makes me look like I've spent the morning sucking on a stick of butter. I hope that by the time I see Marcus my lips won't be so crusty/greasy.

Sahara skin and lips are just two of Accutane's side effects. According to the information booklet, I should be alert for any of the following:

• diarrhea, rectal bleeding
• severe headaches
• nausea, vomiting
• changes in mood

Well, if suffering from diarrhea, rectal bleeding, severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting doesn't swing your mood in some direction, nothing will. Because my mood crests and crashes just fine on its own, I went on Accutane only at my mother's insistence. As a firm supporter of any and all advancements in the cosmetic sciences, she believes that not providing one's child with flawless skin is akin to child abuse. Accutane cured Len Levy, who was covered in pissed-off, purple pustules back in high school, so it should work for me. My acne isn't nearly as allover and angry as his was, but I have to agree with my mother when she points out how my complexion is never completely clear. I always seem to have one knotty cyst somewhere on my face, and when it goes away, another takes its place. One after the other after the other.

My daily dose of Accutane is the standard prescription for a person twice my weight. Three squishy yellow pills. This is my third cycle of the drug--the first two times didn't work--and I feel strangely proud when my doctor says that in twenty-five years of practicing dermatology, he has never seen such resilient zits. I'm a medical freak of nature.

I'd like to think that Marcus would call me unique.

Dr. Rosen also says my condition is stress related. No surprise there. Two weeks ago, I wrote four term papers and filled nine blue books over the course of five exams. In the midst of finals, I impulsively (and stupidly) chopped off my ponytail to get rid of my elastic band scalp-ache. The fix-it-up Supercut was supposed to give me a short geek-chic bob with bangs, kind of like Jordan in Real Genius. But with my hair's trademark flyaway frizziness, I look more like Mitch. The only upside to this coiftastrophe is that in my state of scalp-ache-free concentration, I nailed a 3.85 GPA for the semester, which will make my parents happy, though only temporarily so. While my stellar grades help better my chances of postgraduation financial solvency, they do little to relieve my current money troubles. My parents give me minimal fiscal assistance because, in their own words, I made the choice to go into debt by selecting Columbia over my full scholarship to Piedmont. I still stand by my choice, though less passionately now that I have a much better idea of how long it will take to pay Sallie Mae the $100,000 I'll owe for my BA by the time I graduate. Not to mention the cost of the MA and PhD I'll have to get if I want my undergraduate psychology degree to be worth anything at all. I've only got about half a semester's worth of my grandmother's inheritance left and zero summer moneymaking prospects because no well-paying employer is willing to hire me, train me, then let me leave for the entire month of July for my incredible, albeit totally unpaid internship at True magazine. During my salary-free servitude, I'll be staying in New York with my sister, Bethany (with whom I have nothing but DNA in common); her husband, G-Money (who has earned his nickname through gaining and losing millions on the stock market, yet still having enough spare scratch to buy into a local frozen custard and donut franchise in the hope of taking it national); and my niece, Marin (who is very cute, but has projectile-pooping issues), enduring yet another separation from a boyfriend I haven't seen or touched for six months, one who lives down the hall from a nudist Buddhist (Nuddhist?) named Butterfly who thinks clothing is oppressive and can't understand why people think nakedness always has to be sexual . . .

So. Stress? Naaaaaaaaah.

Sitting in the booth in front of me is a cutesy young couple still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. Or they're lovers recently reunited. They're annoying to everyone who isn't them and haven't stopped pecking each others' faces since they sat down. Back and forth and back and forth across the booth, peck and peck. I prefer juicy tongues to these passionless kisses that are as dry as my needy lips.
I just tried Marcus on my cell. Topher, one of his "cottage-mates," told me he was out "cleansing." He told me this the way other roommates at other schools would say someone is out getting shitfaced. Marcus's world is so foreign to me that I can't help but feel that the person who inhabits it is a stranger. I love when I reach Marcus on the phone and as he says hello, I can hear the music he's listening to in the background. That music is the sound of him without me. How he surrounds himself when I'm not there, which is almost all the time.

And will be for three more years.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling Series #3) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVED the first two books in the Jessica Darling series. But this was terrible. It was so boring I found myself flipping the pages. And when Jessica became kinda permiscous and blew everything with Marcus I wanted to die. I wish there were guys out there like marcus and he was this dream guy who i myself had fallen for. The ending was good though. I recommend you read it but it can get very confusing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Personally, I think the author should have just stopped after Second Helpings. And rumor has it that she's now considering doing a 4th book. Readers be aware that the Jessica in this 3rd edition is not the same Jessica from the first 2 series. The whole thing was disappointing. Hope is nearly non-existant in the book and Jessica seems to midly dislike her college years. Also, I think the whole cramming of 3 college years into one book does not help the book or the story. And worst of all, the relationship between Marcus and Jessica is probably the most disappointing thing in the book!! I suppose its unrealistic for them to stay together for 3 years but Marcus and even Jessica's actions in the book just make no sense and seem so uncharacterstic of them. It just seems a waste to have spent the first 2 books developing their relationship with them only to have it end up being so flat and very disappointing in the third book. Stick with the first 2.
Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
This review cannot even express the sensation of perfect contentment I felt while being invited to stay in the wondrous world of Jessica Darling, queen of sarcasm and protagonist extraordinaire. In her five-book series Megan McCafferty allows us to follow Jessica on her way from being a teenager to a young woman, with all the responsibilities and decisions awaiting her in future. It was great to witness everything going on in her life over such a long span of time. I didn't want to miss one single of her thoughts. Because even though I am not a teenager anymore, it felt so good to read on page what makes these years so angstful and exciting at the same time. Every character contributes to the masterpiece of fun and hilarity -without ever forgetting that there's also the serious side of life- the Jessica Darling series stands for. I loved them all! Marcus Flutie, Jessica of course, her best friend Hope, the parents, her sister and her niece, to name only a few. Marcus Flutie is the main love interest and an extreme case of changeability. It's obvious that he hasn't found his place in life yet, always restless, always changing his mind and his heart about his future, his goals and even Jessica. I'd subtitle this series 'The metamorphosis of Marcus Flutie'. Alternative and surely not mainstream, he always seems to be on an experimental trip. We don't get him more often than we do, but when we connect, it's in all the right ways. Jessica is witty and her humour is the best. I laughed, I cried. I can’t believe how she always said and thought exactly what I was thinking. I wish I read this series much sooner. A revelation to every young adult reader! Jessica and Marcus make mistakes, get together, seperate again. Life comes in the way, wrong decisions play a part. It's just too much to point out every turn their relationship or lives make. There are so many scenes that need to be all time favourites! You. Yes. You. Marcus Flutie you stole my heart. The first two books SLOPPY FIRSTS and SECOND HELPINGS are about Jessica's time in high school. CHARMED THIRDS covers her years in college, from 2003 to 2005. We are very lucky, because Jessica is keeping a diary. And the writing is as appealing as it is, because the story is written in the style of numerous diary entries. It has a very personal character and feels like we are just inside her head, going through everything she experiences and feeling as much love for Marcus Flutie as she does. Her writing is changing over the course of the series, especially in the fourth book, which is great, because it's a fab way to express change in her person or her ways of thinking. This series is a guide for all young, sarcastic, lovable and insecure girls out there! Megan McCafferty, I thank you for all the hours of laughter and tears your novels brought into my house. You are a marvelous writer and I'm expecting to see many more books of you on my favourite shelves in the near future. I hope that we can find a version of that incredibly admirable and lovely Jessica Darling in all of us. 5/5 ***** JESSICA DARLING series - Clever, romantic, sarcastic & so much more. YA at its best! SLOPPY FIRSTS recently had its 12th anniversary. Unbelieveable, but true. This series is in no way inferior to contemporary YA relatives in its originialty or actuality. This is a series that needs to be handed down to your kids, they will surely love to read about that Jessica Darling when they are growing up. And for everyone who hasn't read this series, I suggest you catch up on it now. It doesn't matter if you are 13 or 30, you will get and love it!
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curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
his book angered me but was necessary in the grander scheme of things...