Jessica Darling’s IT List (#1) by Megan McCafferty ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Poppy / Little Brown
Target audience: Middle grade / Jessica Darling fans!
Keywords: starting middle school, friendships, siblings
Format read: ARC from Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit. Thanks!!
Other books reviewed by MM: Bumped
Summary: Jessica Darling is starting the seventh grade, and she’s confident (?!) that with the help of her older sister’s list, she will be the talk of the seventh grade.
It’s official. Jessica Darling has joined the ranks of two of my lifelong favorite middle grade book heroines: Anastasia Krupnik (Lois Lowry) and Alice McKinley (Phyllis Naylor Reynolds). I have read and re-read the quirky books about Anastasia and Alice’s lives so many times; they are two literary characters that I feel I know so so well. And now Jessica Darling? It’s like a dream come true.
It’s always a little nerve-wracking when an author decides to revisit a popular literary icon (yay!) and transport them back in time a little bit. But Megan McCafferty can legit do no wrong so I’m not sure if I was ever that worried. Maybe I was just concerned I would become Darling obsessed all over again and never read another new book until I got through the whole series.
(Truth: so hard not to pick up my copy of Sloppy Firsts, which I’m pretty sure has been winking at me since last week.)
Not only is the IT List totally funny, honest, and SO Jessica, but it does a few things that I love. As a middle grade book, it will introduce new kiddies to this series. And for all of us who have been dying since finishing Perfect Fifths and daydreaming about what’s going on with our favorite girl, we get the opportunity to learn more about the pre-high school Jessica and totally fall in love with her all over again.
Middle school was not the happiest time of my life so I could totally relate to how nervous Jessica was about starting seventh grade. The clothes, the friends, the lunch table antics, wood shop, staying true to her sister’s sparkling high school reputation. The pressure! The exclamation points!! AND THE CAPS LETTERS. (Amazing additions, let me tell you.) McCafferty does a great job of balancing several parts of Jessica’s life: she wants attention from her sister and will follow through with the IT List if that’s what it takes to get it and what about the best friend who becomes the popular one?
Jessica continues to be spunky, hilarious, super smart, and a very thorough thinker. (As she says, it’s totally her hobby.) It was hard not to speed through The IT List because it had such a confident rhythm. McCafferty’s writing is strong and she never forgoes Jessica’s voice and intelligence level even though it is being marketed as middle grade. It definitely has a timeless quality for the any-age reader. (Plus there is a Muppet reference and talk of Seaside Heights — two bonuses for me!)
Listen carefully and do what I say: buy this book and love this book. Because Jessica Darling is so back. (Even though a character like her never leaves us in the first place.)
P.S. Marcus Flutie.
Big thanks to the lovely folks at Little Brown who are letting us give away TWO copies of THE IT LIST. Be sure to enter!!