From the Publisher
“Such a sharp, funny, poignant heroine, with an inner world we can all relate to. I love it.”—Sophie Kinsella, author of Confessions of a Shopaholic
“Sloppy Firsts captures, in spare, truthful prose, the exquisite pain and ecstasy of being besotted by your best friend. The reader may flinch, but Megan McCafferty never does.”
—Emma Forrest, author of Namedropper
“Sloppy Firsts is a spirited, down-the-rabbit-hole adventure in the madcap subculture of high school. With remarkable insight, tenderness, and wit, Megan McCafferty offers us a compassionate, clear-eyed tale of how a sassy young woman survives teenage-hood.”
—Laurie Fox, author of My Sister from the Black Lagoon
“Sloppy Firsts perfectly captures the turbulent roller-coaster ride that is being a teenager. This is an (at times) intimate, painfully honest peek at a girl’s coming of age. Getting to know Jessica was like meeting a new best friend. I miss her already.”
—Atoosa Rubenstein, editor in chief of CosmoGirl!
When her best friend, Hope, moves away after Jess's brother dies of a drug overdose, sixteen-year-old Jess copes with loss of the only friend who understands her. Diary entries and monthly letters to Hope reflect Jess's longing for love but refusal to settle for just anyone, and reveal her rivalry with her perfect, engaged sister. Frustrated because she excels in school with ease, Jess feels that she is participating in class only for her college applications. When she conveniently hurts her ankle and replaces track with journalism, her acerbic editorials make her a spokesperson for the non-Upper Crusts at her high school. McCafferty's unflinchingly realistic depiction of daily life in high school includes the obligatory social stratification and I-hate-my-body-attitude, but it delves deeply into the themes of identity and the struggle to be subversively true to oneself. The author shines with painfully honest portrayals of a variety of relationships, from simple best-friend pacts to complex family interactions in a house where the death of the only son is never mentioned. Ultimately, the author exposes the harm teens do to themselves and to one another, and juxtaposes their resilience alongside their destruction. Although liberal use of the f-word, teen slang, and candid talk about sex season the setting and further the plot, such enhancements might make conservative communities cringe. Shelve this gem in the adult area if necessary; the lime, hot-pink, and orange cover coupled with rave reviews in teen magazines across the country will ensure that this excellent first novel arrives in the hands of the right readers. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written;Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Crown, 280p,
Read an Excerpt
Tonight I've been thinking about the mosaic Hope gave me the night she U-hauled ass out of Pineville. I wasn't supposed to open it until my birthday, but I couldn't wait. I tore off the wrapping paper and finally had an explanation for the mysterious slivers of shredded magazine pages all over her carpet. For months, Hope had been tearing out pictures of school buses and pumpkins to capture the color of her curls. Hershey bars and beer bottles for my bob.
I hung it on the wall next to my bed. I've been staring at it, trying to figure out how she glued all those tiny pieces of paper so they would come together to re-create my favorite photo: Hope and me at four a.m.-wide awake and laughing, waiting to sneak out to watch the sunrise.
I remember that summer sleepover at Hope's house two and a half years ago more vividly than anything I did today.
We watched the video of her Little Miss Superstar dance recital. She was the most coordinated of the dozen or so yellowbikini-clad four-year-olds shuffle-ball-changing to a Beach Boys medley. (Hope's review: Hello, JonBenèt Ramsey!)
We tried to outdo each other in round after round of "What Would You Do?" Eat nothing but fish sticks OR wear head-to-toe *NSYNC paraphernalia for the rest of your life? French kiss your dog, Dali?, OR have sex with the Chaka, the Special Ed. King? Be zit free forever OR fill a D-cup bra?
We flipped through our eighth-grade yearbook and decided that being voted Class Brainiac (me) and Class Artist (her) just about guaranteed geekdom in high school. We thought that Brainiac Who Will Actually Make Something of Her Life and Not End Up Managing a 7-Eleven and Artist Who Will Contribute More to This World Than Misspelled Graffiti sounded so much better. Then we literally rolled on the rug laughing as we stripped other Class Characters of their titles and gave them what they really deserved . . .
Scotty Glazer: from Most Athletic to Most Middle-Aged Yet Totally Immature
Bridget Milhokovich: from Best Looking to Best Bet She'll Peak Too Soon
Manda Powers: from Biggest Flirt to Most Likely to End Up on Jerry Springer
Sara D'Abruzzi: from Class Motormouth to Future Double Agent Who Would Betray Her Country for Liposuction.
Mrs. Weaver made German pancakes with lemon juice and confectioners' sugar for breakfast. Hope's then-sixteen-year-old brother, Heath, snorted the powdery sugar up his nose and imitated some crazy seventies comedian all hopped up on coke. This made me laugh so hard I thought my stomach was going to come out my ears. I felt bad when Hope later explained to me why she and her mom weren't so amused by his antics. And when Heath died of a heroin overdose six months ago, I felt even worse.
My brother would've been in the same grade as Heath. Hope and I always thought that was a really freaky coincidence. I never knew him, though. Matthew Michael Darling died when he was only two weeks old. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. No one in my family talks about him. Ever.
Mr. and Mrs. Weaver made countless excuses for the sudden move back to their tiny hometown (Wellgoode, Tennessee: Population 6,345, uh, make that 6,348). They had to get Hope down there in time to start the third marking period. They had to move in with Hope's grandmother so they could afford to pay for college. But Hope and I saw through the lies. We knew the truth-even if we never said it out loud. The Weavers wanted to get Hope out of Pineville, New Jersey (pop. 32,000, give or take three people), so she wouldn't end up like her brother. Dead at eighteen.
Now I-I mean, we, Hope and me-have to pay for his mistakes. It's not fair. I know this may sound a little selfish, but couldn't they have waited another seventeen days? Couldn't they have waited until after my birthday?
I told my parents not to even dare throwing me a Sweet Sixteen party. The very thought of ice-cream cake and pink crepe paper makes me want to hurl. Not to mention the fact that I can't even imagine who would be on the guest list since I hate all my other friends. I know my parents think I'm being ridiculous. But if the one person I want to be there can't be there, I'd rather just stay home. And mope. Or sleep.
Besides, I have never been sweet. Maybe not never, but definitely not after the age of three. That's when my baby blond hair suddenly darkened-and my attitude went with it. (Which is why my dad's nickname for me is "Notso" as in, Jessica Not-So-Darling.) Whenever anyone tried to talk to me I'd yell BOR-ING and run away. I probably picked it up from my sister, Bethany, who was fourteen at the time and spent hours in front of the mirror rolling her eyes and practicing pissy looks to advertise her so-called angst. Of course, the difference between Bethany and me is that I've never had to practice.