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Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Series #1)

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Series #1)

4.6 316
by Megan McCafferty

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“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey,


“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment--from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

Editorial Reviews

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,
— Beth Gallaway

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Jessica Darling Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.65(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

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.

Meet the Author

MEGAN McCAFFERTY was senior articles editor at Cosmopolitan and has written for Glamour, CosmoGirl!, YM, Maxim, Details, and other top magazines. She also wrote an ongoing serial from Hope’s point of view on twistmagazine.com. She lives in New Jersey, where she’s at work on the next Jessica Darling novel.

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Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 316 reviews.
fridaysinjune More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore all of the Jessica Darling books! I've seen some reviews that were negative that concentrated on things that I thought made the book realistic. I first read this book in 8th grade, and things about Jessica that seem a little immature now (shallowness, preservation on the move of a friend, excessive cursing) really resonated with me then. I aged as Jessica in the books did, and I greatly anticipated each one coming out. I think the books also get better as they go on; I'm not sure if this is due to the aging of the narrator or due to improvements in McCafferty's skill. Either way, I think the series is awesome.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ever get the feeling you're trapped in your current life, and won't be able to get out for, oh, all of eternity? Are you bored with your so-called "friends," bored with your so-called good grades, bored with your so-called life? Then you'll identify with SLOPPY FIRSTS, the witty, moving debut novel from author Megan McCafferty.

SLOPPY FIRSTS is the story of 16-year-old Jessica Darling, a girl who feels completely out of sync with everyone around her with the exception of her best friend, Hope. When Hope suddenly moves out of their Pineville, New Jersey, hometown, Jess feels even more depressed than ever now that she is forced to deal with all of the people in her life that annoy her without her best friend. Faced with vapid, materialistic girls at her high school, her dad's desire to make her the best track star that ever lived, and her new desire to be with the school's resident pseudo- intellectual bad boy, Marcus Flutie, Jessica records all of her hilarious, rambling thoughts in her journal for all readers to see.

SLOPPY FIRSTS is a creative and honest book about what normal teenagers experience in their day-to-day lives. It will please not only young readers, but also adult women who want to relive those cringe-worthy high school years, and look back on the memories. It's heartbreaking, fresh, and sure to become a classic among readers who like a little angst in their lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
alright, first of all, this book is incredible. basically its a love story. and it happens to be captivating enough that you cant wait to get through the parts about anything else, but its really one of the only true books ive ever read. some people think its funny, and it is, but its not hysterical. its not that funny because its honest. there arent that many honest books out there i feel like... here's one that really gets to you, i think the character is relatable because shes blunt. not only does she go through the average teenage things but shes one of the only characters who calls out everyone else's crap. she doesnt try to cover it up at all. and the other great thing is that she doesnt always know everything thats going on and as a reader your rooting for her so much because shes so much like everyother teenage girl out there(or me at least)- but its far from boring. its exactly what it should be. and marcus flutie is amazing. i want him... hahah no, seriously though. i love that there's an edge to him but he tries so hard to make jess happy. its a wonderful love story about the romance of hurting in so many different ways- and for so many types of people.
Livs_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
The Jessica Darling books are super well known. Everyone says that they're fabulous. But I don't quite buy it yet. Sloppy Firsts didn't show me where all the hype is coming from. It's an okay book, sure, but there's nothing ground breaking in there. It's just kind of mediocre. When I picked up the book, I thought that the thing I would like the most about it would be the true to life characters and plot twists. It was all very true to life but within that, surprisingly boring. Most everyone's life is boring and not fit to be written about. I'll be the first to admit that. If someone wrote a book about me, it would seriously suck. I don't do anything! There's nothing exciting or crazy going on with me. Wake up, eat, school, homework, sleep. That's it. And to me, that's kind of all that Jessica did in this book. She did lose her best friend, she did alienate her social circle, she did meet up with the mysterious Marcus Flutie, but it was all hidden under a layer of meh. It could have all been quite interesting but it wasn't. I just didn't get it. There were a few redeeming things that I saw, though. I did enjoy the not boring parts of the book. I loved Marcus, I loved how Jessica had a crazy social life at some points, and I enjoyed the letters and lists that she made. Those shining moments somewhat made up for the crappy parts. They added a little spice. I am going to continue to read the series, I think, because I want to see if any of the other books change my mind about Ms. Jessica Darling. When everyone's so hyped about a group of books, you kind of have to see it through. So I'm going to. I just sincerely hope that Marcus doesn't go away. He's the guy who made this book readable. He was AWESOME. So don't ruin it for me, but does Marcus stick around? I can't quite recommend this series yet, but I might be able to give you guys a diagnosis after I read Second Helpings. All you lovers of the Darling books, cross your fingers for me. I want to like it. :)
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
Since I had to explain to my wife that my latest reading excursion was not in fact a between-the-sheets adventure with multiple terms for male and female genitalia, I might have reached my erotica novel quota for the month of May and possibly June as well. In case you haven’t already figured it out, this is not erotica, nor is it even classified as romance. But I was romantically involved with it all the same. SLOPPY FIRSTS punched my two front teeth out and slapped me hard on the cheek. It lifted my feet six inches off the ground, and turned me upside down. Had I managed to offer the world a coherent thought or two, I probably would have followed it up with a giggle. Jessica Darling might have been the greatest thing to happen to my otherwise miserable existence. She actually made me happy to be alive, and I even managed to smile for once in my dejected life. She made me want to attempt night running and swoon over poetry and wander the hallowed halls of my youth aimlessly and have crushes on Spanish teachers and pretend that I had a big sister named Bethany who was so full of herself that her head was a ticking time bomb and run through malls…and yes, it really was that flipping good. The voice was filled with sardonic poetry and wisdom and wit and charm, and she sounded older than she really was, even if her body had the developed pace of a kindergartner. Whether it was Burke or Bridget or Marcus or Manda or Sara, I was hooked, lined, and snickered, and I found myself reeling in a big mouth bass. Whether I actually did or not is hard to say, but I found myself bouncing along the halls with my head held high and my corduroys on rye and a picture perfect wave across the sky helping me find my way home. If I really stop to think about it, I probably shouldn’t have fallen in love with this novel, but you can’t always choose what books you love, and in this case, I tried to say no, but I ended up saying yes. Over and over and over again. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
epicrat More than 1 year ago
Jessica Darling goes about her life in her "just darling" high school bubble, but inwardly she is screaming for relief from the stupid teenage drama of Pineville High. Her best friend Hope has moved away and left Jessica to battle insomnia, gossip, lack of period, parental expectations, and her older sister's wedding all by herself. To top that, the enigmatic Marcus Flutie - whose reputation reeking of drugs and sex precedes him - becomes inexplicably the one person Jessica can turn to. I've been wanting to read this series forever and finally found all the books at the same time. Jessica Darling is the epitome of a teenager who feels lost amid the high school routine, but doesn't know what she's looking for. Written in journal form, I got sucked into Jessica's honest and snarky observations of the life around. sloppy firsts will definitely appeal to anyone who has ever felt like a freak of nature that no one will ever understand - with Jessica, you'll find good company!
Jillena More than 1 year ago
I started reading the Jessica Darling series the day this book came out. I finished this book in just a few hours; it was impossible to put down!!! The pages are worn from traveling to the bath tub and everywhere with me. I have highlighted passages through the entire book. I felt like I was reading my own diary! A must read for anyone going through or remembering teenage angst!
bookworm73MC More than 1 year ago
ugh!! this was such a bad book!!! just because a book curses all the time doesnt mean its going to catch all readers attention. and the way the boy saves the girl but the boy says the girl saved him. totally cliche. this was an eh book. i wouldnt recommened this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What did I dislike about this book? -She and her friends are constantly swearing and cussing. Alot of the F word. -She thinks about sex all the time. She decides to have sex with a guy who uses her and she barely knows him. -She is not a good role model in general. -People who say "couldn't put it down!" I am shocked how many good reviews this book got. I could barely keep it open! -After a few hours of wasting my time reading this book you find out the end isn't even worth it. Horrible ending. Don't read it.
HATETHISBOOK More than 1 year ago
This book was by far one of the worst books I've ever read. My best friend reccomended it, and i regret it. I am an avid reader, and this was just a waste of my time. In the begginging it appears as if Jesse is a lesbian with her obsession of Hope, and how she states she wishes there was a boy version of Hope out there. CREEPY! Also, this book made me feel so depressed! She completly lost it after Hope left, and had insomnia!!! There was barley any romance in it, and by the end of the book, they BREAK UP!!!!!!! If you have any interest in a good book, don't read this one. PS- MY FAVORITE BOOK IN THE WORLD IS PERFECT CHEMISTRY :) <333 HIGHLY RECCOMEND PERFECT CHEMISTRY!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captured everything i wanted in a boy when I was in high school
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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. 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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We've all had that bad boy phase and we've all lost a best friend. Wether it is to them or you moving or because of a fight the feelings the same. Miss. Jessica darling is the ideal idea of a simple teen. This is such a great book i couldn't put it down!
owltellyouaboutit More than 1 year ago
Jessica is a funny, fresh voice to which many can relate. When Jessica’s best friend, Hope, moves away, she isn’t sure what to do with herself. It’s always been her and Hope against the world, or at least against the boy-crazy girls at school. Now she’s forced to find new friends, and she finds them in the most unlikely places. McCaffery’s hilarious tone comes through loud and clear. There were parts that had me laughing out loud. Jessica is the type of character I wish would jump out of the page and be my best friend. McCafferty does well balancing the good things about Jessica and her flaws. There’s much to be had in the way of character development, and not just with Jessica. It was easy to see people I knew in her sister and her parents. Marcus is another species altogether. I’m quite certain there’s no one like Marcus in the world. He is simply a wonderful creation of McCafferty’s mind, but I can forgive that. A word of warning: you’ll want the next book immediately.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and the whole entire series! I couldn't put it down. Jessica Darling's point of view is exactly how it feels to live in the Suburbs of New Jersey! I recommend the whole series!
pinktinkJP More than 1 year ago
Does it end in December and pick up in June in the second book?
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