Review: Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty

Saturday, May 11, 2013 1:16 PM
Title: Charmed Thirds
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: April 11, 2006
Publisher: Broadway Books
Series: Jessica Darling #3
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 359
Source: Library
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings*
“That's what all love comes down to, doesn't it? We help others only as much as they let us.”
― Megan McCafferty, Charmed Thirds

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 überhip 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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Not even a year ago, I had no idea who Jessica Darling was. That is unbelievable. After falling in love with this series, Jessica Darling has become such a solid fixture in my life. I think to myself regularly, what would JD do? The Jessica Darling series is witty and hilarious, emotional and thrilling, and I find myself continuing to love each book as I watch Jessica grow into herself.

Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings took place during Jessica Darling's high school years. In Charmed Thirds, the series ventures into the new adult genre as Jessica is off to college. I wouldn't go so far as saying Jessica's college years were the best years of her life, but they were certainly the most interesting ones. As usual, Jessica goes through so much in these four years, and it's both delightful and painful to witness her experiences.

By the end of Second Helpings, it seemed like Jessica was prepared for whatever obstacles college life would throw at her and that she was confident in her college choice. But in Charmed Thirds, she realizes that she still has a lot of growing up to do, and that she actually doesn't know what she wants in life. There was a time when she knew that she belonged at Columbia, but now she is lost and unsure. She's decided on a major, but she has no idea what she'll do with it when she enters the real world. She has a steady boyfriend, but the intensity of their relationship terrifies her. As I've said in the earlier books, I don't always like Jessica or agree with her decisions, but as a recent college graduate who entered the real world with extreme apprehension, I truly felt for Jessica and understood what she was enduring. I also made some questionable decisions in college (and I'm sure everyone has), but like Jessica, those experiences helped me discover who I am today and to mature as an individual. Jessica still has a long way to go, but she learned so much from her college years, and most of that knowledge didn't come from reading textbooks.

This wouldn't be a true Jessica Darling book without a lineup of intriguing characters whose eccentricities put Jessica's quirks to shame. Jessica meets some strange individuals in Charmed Thirds, and sometimes, I suspect she is a magnet for absurdity. Since we are reading everything from Jessica's perspective, it is her journal after all, I can't help but wonder if I would find these people as strange or if Jessica loves to exaggerate. Well, all these characters are fictional so I guess I'll never find out.

In Charmed Thirds, old favorites also returned! Even though Jessica makes some new, short-lived friends, Bridget and Percy are never forgotten. I love these two together, and with each book, I find Bridget rises in my estimation. In Sloppy Firsts, Jessica thought she was just another bimbo like Mandy and Sara, but it just goes to show that Jessica isn't always a great judge of people. Other notable characters make a reappearance like Len Levy, Hy, and Paul Parlapiano - her "crush to end all crushes."

Jessica has had her differences with her family in the past, but in Charmed Thirds, we see Jessica share some quality moments with her family. Jessica's parents, Bethany, and G-Money are all present, and Jessica learns some more about all of them. It was wonderful seeing Jessica and her family spending time together and actually talking. And Marin, Jessica's niece, was adorable and such a feisty little thing! Jessica realizes how rewarding being an aunt is and I found Jessica and Marin's bonding time really touching to witness.

And then there's Marcus. Marcus Flutie. I don't think I can adequately express how much I love Marcus. I am impressed with how far this reformed "Dreg" has come over the series. In Charmed Thirds, he is just as adorable and insightful as ever, and I cannot think of a better match for Jessica. Marcus gets her, and not many people really understand Jessica or have the patience to try. I couldn't help getting a little frustrated with Jessica when she actively makes decisions that hurt Marcus or that put some distance between them. But I appreciate that McCafferty portrayed their relationship realistically. Both Jessica and Marcus have issues, and I think that's the reason why they work so well together, but their flaws also lead to many hiccups in their relationship. I think their difficulties will only continue as the series progresses, but I hope they can work past these bumps in the road.

I may not have liked Charmed Thirds as much as the first two books because Jessica makes some stupid mistakes and I found it harder to connect with her, but I realize that she is human and she's under a lot of stress. Jessica is burdened by many problems that college students are all too familiar with: paying tuition, applying for the right internship, building your resume, losing touch with high school friends, and having relationship issues. I would have been skeptical if she wasn't freaking out. Jessica isn't the same Jessica "Notso" Darling from her high school years, and while I liked the old Jessica more, I had to come to terms with the fact that everybody changes.

If you have yet to pick up a Jessica Darling book, I strongly suggest you do so. This series is well worth the time and commitment. Every book is full of unexpected surprises and touching scenes, and Charmed Thirds is not an exception to this rule. I'm anxious to read Fourth Comings and reenter the exciting but turbulent world of Jessica Darling.


  1. Yay! I'm so glad that despite the distance from Jessica - which I felt too because of a few of her decisions - you enjoyed this one. If you're a fan of ambiguous endings, then you'll probably love Fourth Comings. I recently reviewed and loved it and I'm curious to see what you make of Perfect Fifths. Great review, Courtney!(:

    1. I'm really hoping I love both Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths, but I'm also reluctant to see this series come to an end! I'm just wondering what life decisions Jessica will make. It's making me nervous! Thanks Keertana! :D


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