Second Helpings (Jessica Darling Series #2)

Second Helpings (Jessica Darling Series #2)

4.8 194
by Megan McCafferty
     
 

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“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year. . . . The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on

Overview

“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year. . . . The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn’t need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she’s already gotten the dirt from you know who.”

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess’s life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Every day, I wait for that doomsday shoe to drop on my head and crush my spirit," laments New Jersey high schooler Jessica Darling. This hilarious, candid sequel to Sloppy Firsts opens the summer before Jessica's senior year of high school, when the precocious misfit is at a New Jersey academic enrichment camp whose competitive enrollment is belied by its acronym-SPECIAL. There, she meets Prof. Samuel MacDougall, a handsome writing teacher with "three novels, two works of nonfiction and one hot piece of ass to his name," who challenges Jessica to imagine the world outside of her native suburbia. She also runs into her former "crush-to-end-all-crushes" Paul Parlipiano (he's gay, of course), who introduces her to Columbia University-which she decides she must attend. Come September, Jessica works on her college applications, dearly misses her best friend, Hope, who has moved to Tennessee, and spends much of her time trying not to think about bad boy Marcus Flutie, who broke her heart last winter when he confessed that he only asked her out as an experiment. As her senior year progresses, Jessica starts dating Len Levy, her rival for class valedictorian, and becomes the subject of the school's new anonymous gossip rag. The material is typical teen fare, but Jessica is a captivating, intelligent, acidly funny-but always believably adolescent-narrator who is unsparing in her sketches of Pineville High "society" yet touchingly alive to her own vulnerabilities. Though the happy ending seems targeted to a YA crowd, adults will also enjoy Jessica's winning observations. (Apr.) Forecast: Promotion in Seventeen and ELLEgirl, plus word-of-mouth, should make this a hit with the younger set. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Jessica Darling, Class Brainiac and Most Likely to Succeed, journals away her senior year, from her attendance in a pre-college arts camp in July to her uncharacteristically optimistic graduation address in June. Her caustic commentary includes her superficial classmates, her horribleness as a first-time girlfriend, her agonizing over her virginity, her college decision, and her obsession with He Who Shall Remain Nameless. When she is suspected of authoring a slanderous e-zine that pops up in a select group of inboxes, she wishes she had come up with something so clever since quitting the school newspaper. As in Sloppy Firsts (Crown, 2001/VOYA April 2002), monthly letters to Hope, the best friend who moved away, are interspersed as reflective summaries. Set in 2001, September 11 inevitably flavors some of the book, but it is not a "September 11 book." Carefully selected pop culture references are meaningful, especially since 1980s kitsch is again in vogue. This novel delivers just as many snort-out-loud moments as the prequel. Jessica is a more fully realized character who believably matures, and the reader is presented with another side of Marcus, the poet nonconformist every girl would love to sin with. McCafferty takes many pages to provide her readers with what they wanted from the first book, but the wait is well worth it. Jessica's one-time experimentation with ecstasy and self-admitted crude language might concern more conservative librarians or clueless parents; hide it in the adult section if you must, but the right readers will find-and appreciate-this gem. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined asgrades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2003, Three Rivers Press/Crown, 368p,
— Beth Gallaway
Kirkus Reviews
The further adventures of Jessica Darling, she of the overly detailed journal. The brainy and independent Jessica (Sloppy Firsts, not reviewed), author of this sequel's journal entries, is one of the more endearing offspring of these post-Bridget Jones years. Jessica is in her senior year at Pineville High, just another horrible high school somewhere in New Jersey filled with all the usual cliques and adolescent idiocy. Jessica knows she should be getting her act together and not thinking about too-cute Marcus-who she almost lost her virginity to in the first Jessica novel-and how now he's sleeping with every girl who looks his way. Her clueless "friends" embody a range of types. There's Sara, a bubbly screamer who interjects "Omigod!" every three words; Bridget, a gorgeous but insecure blond who says "like" every three words (see the difference); Manda, who spouts pop-feminist babble when she's not snaking other girl's boyfriends; and so on. Jessica misses her best friend, Hope, who moved away, and she has to find out who's behind the "Pineville Low" gossip e-mail that's been making snooty comments about her virginal status. Then comes Len, a terminal geek who's now devastatingly cute and seems to like her. Although one has to get past all the CAPITALIZING and EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS!!! (this is an adolescent's journal, after all), Jessica's less-than-earth-shattering life (What college will accept her? Will Len kiss her? What's Marcus up to?) are tossed across the page with breezy bravado. Cosmo and Glamour writer McCafferty has the post-'90s teenage mindset down to a tee and can reference trash culture with the best of them, but problems arise when she ventures beyond the stereotype.Sassy and packed with more plot twists than a Real World marathon: likely to be snapped up eagerly by teen and preteen McCafferty fans.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307421562
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Series:
Jessica Darling Series , #2
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
156,868
File size:
522 KB

Read an Excerpt

the first

I can’t believe I used to do this nearly every day. Or night, rather. In the wee hours, when the sky was purple and the house sighed with sleep, I’d hover, wide awake, over my beat-up black-and-white-speckled composition notebook. I’d scribble, scratch, and scrawl until my hand, and sometimes my heart, ached.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, one day, I stopped.

With the exception of letters to Hope and editorials for the school newspaper, I haven’t written anything real in months. (Which is why it’s such a crock that I’m attending SPECIAL.) I have no choice but to start up again because I’m required to keep a journal for SPECIAL’s writing program. But this journal will be different. It has to be different. Or I will be institutionalized.

My last journal was the only eyewitness to every mortifying and just plan moronic thought I had throughout my sophomore and junior years. And like the mob, I had the sole observer whacked. Specifically, I slipped page by page into my dad’s paper shredder, leaving nothing but guilty confetti behind. I wanted to have a ritualistic burning in the fireplace, but my mom wouldn’t let me because she was afraid the ink from my pen would emit a toxic cloud and kill us all. Even in my dementia I knew that would have been an unnecessarily melodramatic touch.

I destroyed that journal because it contained all the things I should’ve been telling my best friend. I trashed it on New Year’s Day, the last time I saw Hope, which was the first time I had seen her since she moved to Tennessee. My resolution: to stop pouring my soul out to an anonymous person on paper and start telling her everything again. And everything included everything that had happened between me and He Who Shall Remain Nameless.

Instead of hating me for the weird whatever relationship He and I used to have, Hope proved once and for all that she is a better best friend than I am. She swore to me on that January day, and a bizillion times since, that I have the right to be friends and/or more with whomever I want to be friends and/or more with. She assured me of this, even though His debaucherous activities indirectly contributed to her own brother’s overdose, and very directly led to her parents’ moving her a thousand miles away from Pineville’s supposedly evil influence. Because when it comes down to it, as she told me that shivery afternoon, and again and again, her brother, Heath’s, death was no one’s fault but his own. No one stuck that lethal needle in his arm; Heath did it himself. And if I feel a real connection with Him, she told me then, and keeps telling me, and telling me, and telling me, I shouldn’t be so quick to cut it off.

I’ve told Hope a bizillion times right back that I’m not removing Him from my life out of respect for Heath’s memory. I’m doing it because it simply doesn’t do me any good to keep Him there. Especially when He hasn’t said a word to me since I told Him to fuck himself last New Year’s Eve.

That’s not totally true. He has spoken to me. And that’s how I know that when it comes to He Who Shall Remain Nameless and me, there’s something far worse than silence: small talk. We used to talk about everything from stem cells to Trading Spaces. Now the deepest He gets is: “Would you mind moving your head, please? I can’t see the blackboard.” (2/9/01—First period. World History II.)

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t want to have to burn this journal before I even begin.

the second

Now, here’s a fun and totally not psychotic topic to write about!

Today I got the all-time ass-kickingest going-away present: 780 Verbal, 760 Math.

GOD BLESS THE SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE TEST!

That’s a combined score of 1540, for those of you who are perhaps not as mathematically inclined as I am. YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I’ve done it. I’ve written my ticket out of Pineville, and I won’t have to run in circles for it. I am the first person to admit that if an athletic scholarship were my only option, I’d be out running laps and pumping performance-enhancing drugs right now. But my brain, for once, has helped, not hindered. I AM SO HAPPY I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY CAMP.

As annoying as all those stupid vocabulary drills and Princeton Review process-of-elimination practice sessions were, I’m totally against the movement to get rid of the SAT. It is the only way to prove to admissions officers that I’m smart. A 4.4 GPA, glowing recommendations, and a number-one class rank mean absolutely nothing when you’re up against applicants from schools that don’t suck.

Of course, with scores like these, my problem isn’t whether I’ll get accepted to college, but deciding which of the 1600 schools in the Princeton Review guide to colleges I should attend in the first place. I’ve been banking on the idea that college will be the place where I finally find people who understand me. My niche. I have no idea if Utopia University exists. But there is one consolation. Even if I pick the wrong school, and the odds are 1600 to 1 that I will, it can’t be worse than my four years at Pineville High.

Incidentally, I didn’t rock the SATs because I’m a genius. One campus tour of Harvard taught me the difference between freaky brilliance and the rest of us. No, my scores didn’t reflect my superior intellect as much as they did my ability to memorize all the little tricks for acing the test. For me the SATs were a necessary annoyance, but not the big trauma that they are for most high-school students. Way more things were harder for me to deal with in my sophomore and junior years than the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Since I destroyed all the evidence of my hardships, let’s review:

Jessica Darling’s Top Traumas:

2000–2001 Edition

Trauma #1: My best friend moved a thousand miles away. After her brother’s overdose, Hope’s parents stole her away to their tiny Southern hometown, where good old-fashioned morals prevail, apparently. I can’t blame the Weavers for trying to protect her innocence, as Hope is probably the last guileless person on the planet. Her absence hit me right in the middle of the school year, nineteen days before my Bitter Sixteenth birthday, shortly before the turn of this century. Humankind survived Y2K, but my world came to an end.

Here’s the kind of best friend Hope was (is) to me: She was the only person who understood why I couldn’t stand the Clueless Crew (as Manda, Sara, and Bridget were collectively known before Manda slept with Bridget’s boyfriend, Burke). And when I started changing the lyrics to pop songs as a creative way of making fun of them, she showcased her numerous artistic talents by recording herself singing them (with her own piano accompaniment), compiling the cuts on a CD (Now, That’s What I Call Amusing!, Volume 1), and designing a professional-quality cover complete with liner notes. (“Very special muchas gracias go out to Julio and Enrique Iglesias for all the love and inspiration you’ve given me over the years. Te amo y te amo. . . .”) I’m listening to her soaring rendition of “Cellulite” (aka Sara’s song) right now. (Sung to the tune of the Dave Matthews Band’s “Satellite.”)

Cellulite, on my thighs
Looks like stucco, makes me cry
Butt of blubber

Cellulite, no swimsuit will do
I must find a muumuu
But I can’t face those dressing-room mirrors

[Chorus]

Creams don’t work, and squats, forget it!
My parents won’t pay for lipo just yet
My puckered ass needs replacing
Look up, look down, it’s all around
My cellulite.


If that isn’t proof that Hope was the only one who laughed at my jokes and sympathized with my tears, I don’t know what is. We still talk on the phone and write letters, but it’s never been enough. And unlike most people my age, I think the round-the-clock availability of e-mail and interactive messaging is an inadequate substitute for face-to-face, heart-to-heart contact. This is one of the reasons I am a freak. Speaking of . . .

Trauma #2: I had suck-ass excuses for friends. My parents thought that I had plenty of people to fill the void left by Hope, especially Bridget. She is Gwyneth blond with a bodacious booty and Hollywood ambitions. I am none of these things. We share nothing in common other than the street we’ve lived on since birth.

My parents also had a difficult time buying my loneliness because it was well known that Scotty, His Royal Guyness and Grand Poo-bah of the Upper Crust, had a crush on me. This was—and still is—inexplicable since he never seems to understand a single thing that comes out of my mouth. I found the prospect of having to translate every utterance exhausting and exasperating. I didn’t want to date Scotty just to kill time. He has since proven me right by banging bimbo after bimbo, all of whose first names invariably end in y.

My “friendship” with the Clueless Two, Manda and Sara, certainly didn’t make my life any sunnier, especially after Manda couldn’t resist her natural urge to bang Bridget’s boyfriend, and Sara couldn’t resist her inborn instinct to blab to the world about it.

And finally, to make matters worse, Miss Hyacinth Anastasia Wallace, the one girl I thought had friend potential, turned out to be a Manhattan celebutante hoping to gain credibility by slumming at Pineville High for a marking period or two, then writing a book about it, which was optioned by Miramax before she completed the spell check on the last draft, and will be available in stores nationwide just in time for Christmas.

Trauma #3: My parents didn’t—and still don’t—get it. As I’ve already mentioned, my parents told me that I was overreacting to the loss of my best friend. My mother thought I should channel all my angsty energy into becoming a boy magnet. My father wanted me to harness it toward becoming a long-distance-running legend. My parents had little experience in dealing with my unique brand of suburban-high-school misanthropy because my older sibling, Bethany, was everything I was not: uncomplicated, popular, and teen-magazine pretty.

Trauma #4: I was unable to sleep. I developed chronic insomnia after Hope moved. (I currently get about four hours of REM every night—a huge improvement.) Bored by tossing and turning, I started to sneak out of the house and go running around my neighborhood. These jaunts had a soothing, cathartic effect. It was the only time my head would clear out the clutter.

On one of those early-morning runs, I tripped over an exposed root and broke my leg. I was never as swift again. My dad was devastated, but secretly I was relieved. I never liked having to win, and was grateful for an excuse to suck.

Trauma #5: My menstrual cycle went MIA. My ovaries shut down in response to the stress, lack of sleep, and overtraining. I was as sexually mature as your average kindergartener.

Trauma #6: I developed a sick obsession with He Who Shall Remain Nameless. He wasn’t my boyfriend, but He was more than just a friend. I was able to tell Him things that I couldn’t share with Hope. When I couldn’t run anymore, His voice soothed me, and I was actually able to fall asleep again. My period even returned, welcoming me back to the world of pubescence.

His motives weren’t as pure as I thought they were. Whatever relationship we had was conceived under false pretenses. I was an experiment. To see what would happen when the male slut/junkie of Pineville High—who just happened to be my best friend’s dead brother’s drug buddy—came on to the virgin Brainiac. He thought that confessing His sinful intentions on that fateful New Year’s Eve would lead to forgiveness, but it just made things worse. I was profoundly disappointed in Him—and myself—for ever thinking that He could’ve replaced Hope.

No one can. Or should. Or will.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

MEGAN MCCAFFERTY has written for Cosmopolitan, CosmoGirl!, Glamour, Seventeen, ELLEgirl, Twist, Fitness, and Shape. She lives in New Jersey.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Second Helpings (Jessica Darling Series #2) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jessica Lynn Darling is tall, skinny, athletic and smart. Who wouldn¿t want to be all of those things? Jessica Lynn Darling. In Second Helpings, McCafferty precisely captures the life of a frustrated high school teenager. Jessica is sick and tired of everything. From her parents, her sister and school, to her relentless love for the quote bad boy unquote, Marcus Flutie. She hates how her parents will never understand her. She is mad at her dad because he pushes her to be the athletic son he almost had, forcing her to do the unthinkable thing as captain and four-year varsity vet of the track team. She hates how her sister, Bethany, is the good-looking and popular child her mom always dreamed of. She hates even more how her mom wishes she was just like her. She cannot stand how her school and middle-of-nowhere-town, Pineville, is so focused on social status. She wants to get away from everyone and everything related to Pineville. She dreams of going to Columbia University in New York to study writing. But after the recent events of 9/11, her parents will barely let her out of the house, so she abandons all hope. But most of all, Jessica hates how she cannot seem to get Marcus Flutie out of her head. Even with his mysterious and quiet personality, Marcus is still managing to get into her hectic life. This time, Jessica is determined to steer clear of him and his mind games. After some wise words from her grandmother, Gladdie, Jessica discovers that she¿s been blind to what has been blatantly in front of her all this time, and finally makes the decision of her life. McCafferty¿s captivating novel, Second Helpings, leaves the reader content, yet eager for the next installation of this fantastic series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, so its kinda a love story but it's also completely realistic, I'm only 14 but it totally explains life as a teenage girl. The main character 'Jessica' is someone you can completly relate to, a lot of books these days either describe life as a scoop of ice cream or some really heavy depressing drug-adict-alcaholic-foster-kid-orphan mix. This book shows that yes, 'Life sucks, and then you die.' but you also have good times in between those super sucky moments.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great for all ages, it shows the pressure and mental conflicts that most young adults go through. Second Helpings made me laugh and cry and with most of the situations I could relate. Not to mention that now I have a secret crush on Marcus Fultie (the man we all wish we could have)! All in all I would recommend this book to everyone!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sloppy firsts was amazing, didnt know the sequel could be even better!
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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. 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!
owltellyouaboutit More than 1 year ago
McCafferty raises the bar with her second installment of her hilarious Jessica Darling series. It’s Jessica’s senior year. She’s somehow become friends with the girls of the Clueless Crew, and she hasn’t spoken to Marcus since the night they almost kissed. On top of everything, she needs to pick a college. McCafferty does not disappoint in this book. Her infamous snark  is alive and well in her main character. Jessica was admittedly a little less relatable in this book, simple because of her aloofness to what was really going on. Marcus became the center of attention for me in this book. So much was explained, but I think there’s still more to learn about him. The ending felt a lot like a John Hughes movie. I know that there’s more in store for these characters, though, so I’m going to let that slide. There’s also plenty of backstabbing and high school drama, if you’re into that. This one has more of a resolution, so I didn’t have to run for the next book immediately. Still, I’m eager to see what’s next for Jessica. This is one of the better books about high school I’ve read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It shows her real feelings and is a good read not for children though
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey im savannah im in need of a bf ill tell u mor if u reply
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epicrat More than 1 year ago
Jessica Darling wants nothing to do with Marcus Flutie after his betrayal, but he seems determined to make her life as awkward as possible by helping his best friend Len Levy win her over. Not to mention, Marcus seems to be in cahoots with her colorful grandmother at the nursing home when it comes to Jessica's love life and college plans. As she tries to survive her senior year at Pineville High, Jessica combats a mediocre relationship with a boy not of her dreams, a dream college that far exceeds her family's budget, and the temptation of going over to the dark side known as Marcus Flutie. second helpings grew on me. I didn't love it at first, but the more I think about this book and the more I find myself quoting the infamous "you, yes, you" all the time to Mr. Z, the more I realize that Megan McCafferty has affected - or is it infected? - my mind. The tug-of-war between Jessica and Marcus is absolutely perfect in their imperfections, and I could not wait to see which one of them would finally yank the other over to their side. second helpings may not have impressed me at first, but it has definitely left a lasting impression on my own romantic whimsies.
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