Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling Series #4)

Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling Series #4)

4.1 65
by Megan McCafferty
     
 

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At first it seems that she’s living the elusive New York City dream. She’s subletting an apartment with her best friend, Hope, working for a magazine that actually utilizes her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with Marcus Flutie, the charismatic addict-turned-Buddhist who first captivated her at sixteen.

Of course, reality is more

Overview

At first it seems that she’s living the elusive New York City dream. She’s subletting an apartment with her best friend, Hope, working for a magazine that actually utilizes her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with Marcus Flutie, the charismatic addict-turned-Buddhist who first captivated her at sixteen.

Of course, reality is more complicated than dreamy clichés. She and Hope share bunk beds in the “Cupcake”—the girlie pastel bedroom normally occupied by twelve-year-old twins. Their Brooklyn neighborhood is better suited to “breeders,” and she and Hope split the rent with their promiscuous high school pal, Manda, and her “genderqueer boifriend.” Freelancing for an obscure journal can’t put a dent in Jessica’s student loans, so she’s eking out a living by babysitting her young niece and lamenting that she, unlike most of her friends, can’t postpone adulthood by going back to school.

Yet it’s the ever-changing relationship with Marcus that leaves her most unsettled. At the ripe age of twenty-three, he’s just starting his freshman year at Princeton University. Is she ready to give up her imperfect yet invigorating post-college life just because her on-again/off-again soul mate asks her to... marry him?

Jessica has one week to respond to Marcus’s perplexing marriage proposal. During this time, she gains surprising wisdom from unexpected sources, including a popular talk show shrink, a drag queen named Royalle G. Biv, and yes, even her parents. But the most shocking confession concerns two people she thought had nothing to hide: Hope and Marcus.

Will this knowledge inspire Jessica to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who’s gripped her heart for years? Jessica ponders this and other life choices with her signature snark and hyper-intense insight, making it the most tumultuous and memorable week of her twenty-something life.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Acerbic heroine Jessica Darling is faced with the post-college conundrum-what now?-in McCafferty's fourth (following Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpingsand Charmed Thirds). Her answer is to finally break it off with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, who, after cleaning up his drug habit, studying Buddhism and spending some time in Death Valley, is now at Princeton. But before she can break up with him, he pops the question, and she mulls her response for a week. The bulk of the novel is made up of Jessica's satirical observations on life in New York: the tiny room in a basement sublet she shares with her best friend Hope; her nonjob for a magazine that pays so little she has to mooch off of her older sister; her friends who convince her to go to a club where she is hit on by a seven-foot-tall drag queen named Royalle G. Biv. Though the acid descriptions of city life are as hilarious as in the previous books (her landlord says of her eyebrows: "Zey are like two desperate sperm trying to impregnate your eyeballs!"), the book lacks cohesion, and the ending is a letdown. Like cotton candy, it's sweet and fluffy but has no substance. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Beth Gallaway
In this final (perhaps) installment in the Jessica Darling series, Marcus has just entered Princeton and Jessica has decided that she does not want to be the girlfriend of a twenty-two-year-old college freshman. Her attempt to break up with Marcus is derailed by a marriage proposal, with seven days to consider her answer. In a purposefully ironic twist, her closest friend, Hope, is more fully present here, and Jessica is writing to Marcus as she tries to arrive at a decision. The relationships around her flavor her choice, and readers are privy to new details about high school friends as well as to more information about Jessica's parents-whose marriage appears to be rocky-and her sister's marriage. Readers also meet Hugo, Marcus's older brother, who offers insightful stories about Marcus's childhood that begin to lead to the denouement. The themes in this book are more adult, in terms of focusing on career and housing as opposed to school, so this volume might not have the same teen appeal as others in the series. Fans will be delighted that Jessica's acerbic wit and '80s references are consistent. Her voice matures without losing the kernel of keen observation that is pure Jess, and although the ending might not satisfy all readers, it cannot have concluded any other way. A must-have for libraries where previous installments are popular, this book should be shelved in adult fiction and recommended as an A/YA crossover title for mature teen readers.
Library Journal

McCafferty's fourth installment (after Charmed Thirds) in a series featuring livewire Jessica Darling attempts to cross the bridge between teen fiction and adult chick lit. Jessica has now graduated from college and is living in a Brooklyn sublet with her best friend, Hope, and their gender-bending high school classmate, Manda, earning a pitiful living babysitting her niece and editing for an almost nonexistent magazine. When Marcus, the love of her life, proposes to her from his dorm at Princeton, she takes the next week to decide whether she wants to marry the 22-year-old freshman or go on living her life in New York-a city he hates-without him. Despite the novel's witty and candid writing style, Jessica Darling was perhaps better left in her teen years and McCafferty's talents better put to use beginning a new series for twentysomethings. This installment is unlikely to win new readers, although fans of the series will definitely want to read it. Recommended only where the first three novels were popular.
—Anika Fajardo

From the Publisher
Praise for the Jessica Darling Series

“Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker.”
Wall Street Journal

“McCafferty looks at travails with humor as well as heart.”
People

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307405630
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
08/07/2007
Series:
Jessica Darling Series , #4
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
487,491
File size:
563 KB

Read an Excerpt

One

“ Waiting sucks.”

The voice was male and came from behind my right shoulder. I was so startled by the sound of another’s voice rising above the undemanding Top 40 soundtrack, I nearly spazzed myself off my barstool.

The voice tried again, this time with an awkward paraphrase.

“It sucks, you know, to wait.”

To have confirmed the source of the voice would have required me to turn away from the bar. I was the only one seated there, so I knew the voice was directed at me. And yet confirming this fact wasn’t something I was particularly inclined to do. There was a swift movement, followed by a fresh whiff of citrus, sweat, and testosterone. The voice had taken the empty stool to my right.

“I hate being the first to show up anywhere,” he continued, so sure of his hypothesis. “You feel like such a jackass.”

The shift from first to second person was reflexive and unintentional. This is how his kind talk. To confirm, I refocused my attention away from my drink to his face. I was unsurprised by what I saw: a white, early-twentysomething male with a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses resting on top of his head. His light brown hair was mussed in a calculated way that required far more product than neglect. He was broad-shouldered in his I’m-so-secure-about-my- masculinity-that-I-can-wear-pink Lacoste polo. A popped collar brushed against his ruddy rugby-player cheeks. Without looking down, I knew he had flip-flops on his feet.

Dude.

It could’ve been worse. Plenty of guys renounce Dude’s scruffy preppy aesthetic and take to the sidewalks of this town wearing gaudy madras shorts, striped button-downs, and pastel sweaters knotted around their shoulders, like illustrations straight out of the first edition of The Wasp Handbook. Earlier today on the way to the bar, I spotted a yachting, lockjawed specimen wearing green twill trousers (a corny word, but the only one that fits) with tiny ducks embroidered all over them. Tiny ducks. Unironically. I almost pointed and shrieked, which is something I hadn’t done since first grade when I got smacked in the back of the head for screeching at a man with a cantaloupe goiter in the frozen-foods aisle of the Pineville SuperFoodtown.

Dude wasn’t hot. He wasn’t not. As with most guys of his privileged station and prep school pedigree, Dude was put together well—blandsome —which is all he needs to get laid on a regular basis. He was inspecting me inspecting him, a bemused expression on his face. He lifted himself up ever-so-slightly on his faded denim haunches, a gesture that indicated that he’d give me only a few more seconds before writing me off as embittered, boyfriended, or otherwise impenetrable.

“Hmm,” I murmured. Then I sipped my drink and tried not to wince as the whiskey scarred my windpipe.

Dude settled back onto his stool. My indifference intrigued him, as all romantic impediments do. It’s been scientifically proven. The harder the conquest, the more you want it. It’s called frustration- attraction. (I don’t think it’s unfair for me to pipe in with this parenthetical: Frustration-attraction explains a lot when it comes to you and me.)

“So, you know, when we noticed you”—he thrust his carefully disheveled hairstyle toward a table in the corner, where three identically dressed dudes of varied races were pretending to drink beers instead of watching us—“we figured that one of us should come over and keep you company until your friends arrive.” The fact that his friends were still sitting over there, instead of cockblocking him over here, suggested that money had exchanged hands before Dude made his approach.

“Twenty says I’ll get her number.”

“I’m in.”

“Me too.”

“Dude, you are so owned.”

“Hmm,” I said again.

“So where are they?” he asked. “Your friends?”

It wasn’t an unreasonable question. I was, after all, a female sitting conspicuously alone in a college bar, drinking whiskey on a Saturday barely past one in the afternoon. Girls who look like me don’t drink whiskey by themselves in bars barely past one in the afternoon. Granted, it wasn’t the kind of dingy dive bar that ruins reputations, but a respectable Princeton institution that serves classic pub fare along with whatever is on tap. It’s proudly decorated with orange-and-black paraphernalia and even sells a poster- sized version of a mural depicting Brooke Shields sitting in a booth across from Einstein, Toni Morrison, and other less instantly recognizable local luminary. Parents still bursting with pride were dining in the back room with their sons and daughters— freshmen and freshmeat who also arrived early for the pre-Orientation programming— enjoying one last lunch as a family before leaving their children alone to embark on their miraculous college journeys.

“My friends aren’t here,” I said. “Just me.”

My first cryptic yet intelligibly human response made him break out into a smile. His teeth, it almost goes without saying, were thermonuclear white.

“I’m Dave,” he said, extending a gentlemanly hand. “And you are . . . ?”

“I’m Jenn,” I lied. “With two n’s.”

“Two n’s?” Dude was emboldened by two multisyllabic replies in

a row. “And how do you defend this blatant overuse of unnecessary consonants?”

Dude thought very highly of himself, and he considered this comment to be charming as all hell. As a female, I didn’t have to play along in the same way. Just sitting there, seemingly agog at his patrician charms and in possession of a functional vagina, really, was the only participation required on my end. And yet I couldn’t stop myself.

“I need two n’s,” Jenn-with-Two-N’s continued in this facetious, flirtatious vein. “Because one’s naughty and the other’s . . .”

“Nice?” he offered.

“Or not.”

Dude laughed really, really hard. He thought I was being ironic, which I was. But he was unaware of the full extent of this parody playing out before him. Ours was a multilayered mockery of a conversation, one occurring within a set of quotations within quotations within quotations. I was tired of having these types of conversations. I had a relationship with a philosophy major at Columbia that existed entirely within multiple sets of quotations.

“Why haven’t I seen you around here before?”

“I don’t go to Princeton,” said Jenn-with-Two-N’s.

“I didn’t think so,” Dude said. “By the time you’re a senior, you feel like you know everyone even if you don’t.”

“Maybe it’s because you all look alike,” I replied, gesturing my glass toward the corner table. “That is, in your racially diverse way.”

This also made him laugh. “I should be offended.”

“But you’re not.”

“No,” he said. “Because it’s true.”

I finished my drink in one long gulp. It was starting to burn less. Jessica Darling is a puker. But Jenn-with-Two-N’s could handle her liquor. Dude lifted his finger to alert the bartender that we’d like another round. He was drinking Stella Artois.

“So you don’t go here,” he said.

“No.”

“Work here? Live here?”

“No,” I said. “And no.”

“So if you don’t mind me asking,” Dude said, cracking his knuckles in such a way that required him to flex his lats, delts, and pecs, “what are you doing here?”

“I . . . don’t . . . know.” Each word a mystery unto itself.

Dude smiled because he thought I was joking. But it was a tight smile, one that betrayed his concern that I might be a bit of a nutcase, a drunken one-night stand not worth the psychotic hangover. He asked a question designed to get a better sense of what he was dealing with.

“So what do you do?”

“Breathe,” I blurted in a bad German accent. “Eat. Fuck. Shit. Not necessarily in zat order.”

I was quoting my landlord, Ursula, but Dude didn’t know that. He looked over a muscular shoulder to the boys in the corner, perhaps wondering how he was going to get out of this bet but still save face.

“ ‘What do you do?’ is the first question people in the States ask when they meet someone,” I said. “No one asks that question in Europe. It’s considered rude. Over there, people don’t want to be defined by their jobs. Over here, it’s the only way most people define themselves. I’m an i-banker. I’m a corporate lawyer. I’m in real estate.”

Dude’s eyes glazed over, and not with booze. How could I ever expect this future titan of industry to understand?

“I’m in publishing.”

It took a moment for Dude to realize that I wasn’t speaking in faux first person anymore and that I had just informed him that I, Jenn- with-Two-N’s, work in publishing.

“Oh. Like books?” Dude asked.

“A magazine.”

“What magazine?”

“Well, it’s really more of a journal than a magazine,” I said. “I’m sure you’ve never heard of it.”

“What? You think I don’t read? You think I’m illiterate? I do go to Princeton, you know.”

“I had no idea,” I said dryly.

I also had no idea why I was still talking to Dude in this manner. Maybe it was because Dude was encouraging my antics by nodding his head vigorously, as if this whole conversation made perfect sense. Drunk is the universal language, the dipsomaniacal Esperanto, so he totally, totally got everything I was saying.

“So listen,” Dude said, all business, all pleasure, all the time. “Since you’re not waiting for anyone, maybe you’d like to join us.”

“I don’t think so,” I announced as I stood up, smoothing out the wrinkles in my butter-colored Bermuda shorts with my palms. “I have to go break up with my boyfriend now.”

Dude laughed harder than all his other laughs combined. He slapped his forehead in laughter, which sent his sunglasses falling to the floor. More laughter rang out from the corner table.

“Why are you laughing?”

“The way you said it,” he replied as he not-so-stealthily gave my legs a once-over. “ ‘I have to go break up with my boyfriend now.’ ”

“I didn’t think I was going to say it,” I said, almost to myself. “It just came out.”

“I have that devastating impact on the ladies,” Dude boasted, pretending to mock his own sexiness.

I really hadn’t intended for Dude to be the first to know. It only took a nanosecond for my mind to catch up to my mouth, but it was a nanosecond too late. It was a relief, in a way. Putting feelings into words makes them so. Once words are spoken (or written . . .) they take on a greater significance. With this slip, I suddenly felt that readiness I’d been missing all morning. It wasn’t liquid courage, it was the real thing: I’m here to break up with Marcus. That’s why I’m here.

I considered what could have happened next, if I wanted to.

I thought about lifting myself up on my tiptoes and leaning into Dude’s face. I thought about breathing in his sweet-and-sour scent of citrus shaving cream and perspiration. I thought about his mouth opening to say something unnecessary and mine clamping over his to shut him up. I thought about a mushy kiss with a mealy banana mouthfeel.

Making out with Dude could’ve been a harbinger of all the horrible hook-ups to come. It could’ve proven that I wasn’t looking to get involved with someone else right now, I was just looking to get out of the involvement I was already in. But I didn’t need to kiss Dude to confirm this truth. Kissing Dude is something I might have done when I was in college (okay, something I did do in college), but I knew better now. So instead of making out with Dude, I made my exit.

“Wait! Where you going? Can I get your number?” His cell was out and ready.

I walked away to the sound of Dude’s halfhearted protests, leaving him behind to pay up for one piece of ass he shouldn’t have wagered on.

two

I teetered out of the dark bar and was assaulted by the sunlight.

It should be dark right now, I thought to myself. It should be midnight and not . . . 1:39 p.m. Your first meeting had ended at one p.m. You had another meeting at three-thirty. I had one hour and fifty-one minutes left.

Official Orientation begins next week, and classes another week after that. But you were so eager to get everything you could out of your Princeton experience, you arrived early for the Frosh Trip, one week of hiking, kayaking, tent-pupping, and bonding with hundreds of other first-year students in the wilds of the tri-state area. You assured me that Outdoor Action is a very popular program, and I still can’t help but wonder if its attractiveness to the majority of the eighteen- year-old attendees has something to do with its prurient sex-in-the- wilderness connotations.

I had no trouble finding your dorm because as undeniable luck would have it, you were assigned to Blair Hall—the oldest Collegiate Gothic dorm on campus and the most iconic. With its stone facade, imposing four-corner turrets, and famed archway, it looks like nothing less than a castle. It was impossible for me to miss, even in my somewhat inebriated state. When we’d moved you in earlier that morning, it struck me as absurd that students would actually live there, yet appropriate that one of them was you.

I was drawn to the noise of a volleyball game in progress on a stretch of sand near the castle that served as the campus beach. I envisioned row after row of nubile bodies in bikinis, as if this were a junior college in Fort Lauderdale and not one of the most esteemed and difficult-to-get-into universities in the world. As I made my meandering approach, I spotted you with ball in hand in the serving position—an impressive figure stretching several inches taller than any other player on the court. You were shirtless, as you often were since returning from the desert, and your lean, sinewy muscles were shiny with sweat. You’re the rarest of redheads, unfreckled, with skin that turns red first, then browns in the sun. Your ropy dreads had grown past your shoulders and bounced along with your every move.

And then there was the Beard.

You had all but given up on shaving, and the result was a (forgive me) scuzzy, neck-to-nose beard/sideburns combo. At its best, the Beard was sort of bohemian and Ginsbergian. But it more closely resembled that which is usually seen on the faces of crazy homeless men or even crazier Islamic fundamentalists, or lately, the batshit crazy Mel Gibson. When it got too mangy and unmanageable, even for you, the Beard was attacked with a pair of cuticle scissors. A weed whacker would’ve been more efficient. The Beard was, without question, aesthetically unappealing and hygienically unsound, two factors that distinguished it from the very deliberate and totally played-out hipster beards that plagued Lower Manhattan and certain Brooklyn neighborhoods in the mid-00s.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

MEGAN MCCAFFERTY is the author of the hit novels Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, and Charmed Thirds, which was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. To find out more, visit www.MeganMcCafferty.com.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling Series #4) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
valerie1537 More than 1 year ago
I thought that Charmed Thirds would be a tough one to beat. I was was pleasantly surprised with Fourth Comings. Not the ending that I expected! But I loved it :)
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. FOURTH COMINGS is about time after graduation and what she wants to do for a living. 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!
TheAddictedReader More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this whole series. There are 5 books total.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
epicrat More than 1 year ago
(review for both FOURTH COMINGS & PERFECT FIFTHS) In the final 2 books of the Jessica Darling series, our wires-crossed, love-imperfect couple decide if they'll make it or break it for good. While Jessica enters the post-college "real world," Marcus finally decided to go back to organized education in the form of Princeton. Still physically distant in location, Jessica thinks she's too old to re-live the college scene again. Will she wait for Marcus to graduate? Will Marcus dump her for a fresh-faced frosh? Will they find their perfect endings finally together - or finally apart? Unlike its predecessors, fourth comings chronicles only 1 week of Jessica Darling's life - and yet it packs the most thoughtful and emotional punch of the series. Again, at the end, I find myself in deep contemplation of "forever" and "whatever" that play a role in Jessica and Marcus's romantic entanglements. Then comes along perfect fifths that gives us a whole fourth-wall phenomenon where we dive into third-person present instead of relying solely on Jessica's notebooks. Which means we get a delicious glimpse into the wonder of Marcus Flutie. perfect fifths is simply spot-on as far as reminiscing about the entire series and tying everything into a wonderfully bittersweet conclusion.
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