Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
(Jessica Darling # 3)
Three Rivers Press, 384 pages
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 uberhip 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.
One of my favorite books back in college was Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty, so when I heard that there will be a next book for Jessica Darling (even if I was really content with how the second book ended), I was thrilled. Of course, being the paperback lover and not having my own income back when it was released, I didn’t get it until I just quit my last job. You’d think I’d read it immediately, too, but no. I ended up reading, stopping, reading, and finally just stopping, until I lost my copy in the 2009 Ondoy/Ketsana flood that almost engulfed our house. Before I knew it, there was the fourth and fifth book, but I never got to read the third so my Jessica Darling world only existed until she graduated high school.
Well, I finally got around to it shortly before I left for Europe, thanks to that complete collection ebook that I bought a few months back. Jessica Darling is now in college, and you’d think things would be easier for her, right? After all, she’s out of Pineville! But of course it’s not. Charmed Thirds brings us through Jessica’s college years as she gets into the dream internship that turns into a not-so-dream, finds new “best” friends who may or may not be like Hope, and falls into other scrapes that go in the way of her relationship with the sometimes no-contact boyfriend, Marcus.
Just as when I tried to read this the first time, I actually stopped right in the middle of Charmed Thirds before picking it up again. I was in Europe then so I didn’t feel like reading Jessica’s adventures. I have to admit that somewhere along the way, I just got…disinterested. Jessica still is witty and hilarious, and there were some heartwarming moments in the book, but I felt the same way as when I reread Sloppy Firsts. Jessica is so angsty! She thinks a little too much and sometimes, I can’t help but think that she makes her own life miserable with all that thinking. Not that the other people around her aren’t as strange or dysfunctional, and that I’m discounting the truly sucky things that happened around and to her…but I can’t relate. I guess it’s because I had a pretty okay college life, and I’m normally a happy person? Or maybe because I’m past all that already? Jessica is such an overthinker that I couldn’t really keep up with her. I also had a hard time with reading Marcus and Jessica’s seemingly non-relationship. It’s hard to decide who was at fault here because they both equally had strange ways of dealing and working with their relationship. And honestly, it’s not really something that I want. No matter how Marcus made up for it in the end, and no matter how sweet and sensitive he may seem. Even if that’s the part of the book that made me go aww and like this book (But not as much as I liked Second Helpings).
Not that Charmed Thirds isn’t fun to read, because like I said, Jessica is still witty and hilarious and her encounters with her Pineville people were also fun and cringe-worthy at times. Even her parents started becoming more interesting (especially when Jessica walked in on them — oh the horror!). I thought Jessica was still brave for facing the things she did and sticking it out until the end. Her decisions aren’t always wise, but she’s definitely tough even if she doesn’t know it.
Maybe this is how growing up really is. It’s never clean-cut or organized thing, right? It’s always messy, and even the smartest ones don’t go unscathed.
Oh, and of course I’ll still read Fourth Comings. I’m in this until the end — I want to see where Jessica Darling ends up. :)
My copy: ebook from Complete Jessica Darling set from Amazon Kindle store
Cover & blurb: Goodreads