Calendar Girls: Best Sequel

Welcome to the fifth month of the reading/blogging event Flavia and Melanie are hosting, Calendar Girls! It’s a monthly event designed to ignite bookish discussions between bloggers based on the monthly theme. For more information, check out Melanie or Flavia’s launch posts!

This month’s theme: best sequel.



My choice is the second book in the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty, Second Helpings. To be honest, it’s been a little while since I read this book (about 7 years) and I desperately need to re-read this series considering how much I talk about Megan McCafferty, her writing, and how much I love her books, but I remember this one sticking with me for so many reasons.



I picked up this book because Hayley for the fiveawesomegirls youtube channel talked about it, and she was very excited about the release of the fifth one. Trusting Hayley’s taste in books I decided to dive in for a crazy ride that goes from YA lit to more adult literature and themes as Jessica, and therefore Jessica’s audience aged.

The first book in this series, Sloppy Firsts, was published in August of 2001, Second Helpings was released in April on 2003, Jessica, the main character is a senior in high school in this book. It follows Jessica through her senior year, the superlatives, yearbook prep, college selection, as well as her older sister’s pregnancy. It’s a turbulent year for Jessica as she tries, like so many of us have at 17 and 18 years old, to learn who she is and what she wants.

Between the release of the first book and the release of the second book, a huge event in American History happened. I was a freshman in high school that day. And in the nine years between that event in September of 2001 and March of 2010 when I read this book, I had never read a book that discussed the high school student reaction to it. There is a tone shift in the books that, looking back at them; you can tell that book one is a pre-9/11 book and the second in a post-9/11 book. It’s hard to explain, and I could have been imagining the whole thing, but there is a worry free honesty of the first book and the second book truly captures the change that there was in, at the very least, my high school.

Obviously, the Megan McCafferty’s take on 9/11 through the eyes of a high schooler who was not that much older than I was isn’t the only reason I love this series and this book. There is an honesty and a light-heartedness that Jessica’s character has as she writes her diary and explains the events of her life that feel so real. She doesn’t sugar coat her friendships with the people in her friend group who she calls “The Clueless Crew.” She’s conflicted about her feelings with two different boys. It just feels more real than many YA books I’ve read. There is also a lot of appreciation for Barry Manilow, which you just don’t see in YA literature.

I highly, highly, highly, recommend reading the Jessica Darling series. They are just good books.

Have you read them? Let me know what you thought!

Next Month’s Calendar Girl’s Theme:


Until next time Internet,



13 thoughts on “Calendar Girls: Best Sequel

  1. Great post Deanna! And thanks for participating in Calendar Girls!

    This definitely sounds like a series different from typical YA. I find that I can’t usually read YA that has a high school setting (which is one of the reasons I mainly read fantasy and sci-fi), but this book sounds little more serious, rather than some of the clique-y, cliche YA books out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oo! I love the comment you make about this book regarding how the narrative changed from book 1 to book 2 because of 9/11. That was/is a huge part of our history. Many of us were quite young when it happened and it had a huge impact on our lives (whether we readily admitted it/understood it at the time.) I think that’s a very important piece to have in a story for young readers because that event (among others) have a serious effect on people and how they view the world.

    What a great choice! 😀 Though, I’m curious how much older the MC was in book two because you stated this was adult literature. Was there a substantial age gap?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica is 17 or 18 in the second book, so she’s still in high school and not all that much older than I was at the time. The books themselves start when Jessica is 16 and continues until she’s almost 30.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow! That is quite a span, but I imagine it would be quite interesting to read. Not only that, but I imagine it’s probably full of ‘adult’ things that we young adults struggle with every day. Quite informative, perhaps?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s just growing up. It does skip a few years between books 4 and 5. It shows a girl maturing in a woman and discovering herself. I saw a lot of what I was struggling with in my early twenties with Jessica. A lot happens in the books, but its mostly watching emotional maturity and love.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Deanna, I’ve never read one of her books so far but I’ll give it a chance! I live in Europe but I remember 9/11 like yesterday. I watched online on the television and could not believe my eyes. Even on the other side of the ocean I was chilled. It was terrifying. Great choice!

    Liked by 1 person

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