"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.
Release date: 04/01/2003