Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: August 7, 2007
Publisher: Broadway Books
Series: Jessica Darling #4
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
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*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds*
“I wish our love was right now.”My Thoughts
―Megan McCafferty, Fourth Comings
Is the real world ready for Jessica Darling?
At first it seems she's living the New York City dream. She's subletting an apartment with her best friend, working for a magazine that actually cares about her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with the charismatic Marcus Flutie.
But reality is more complicated than dreamy clichés.
When Marcus proposes, giving her only one week to answer, Jessica must decide if she's ready to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who's gripped her heart for years. Jessica ponders this and other life choices with her signature snark and hyper-intense insight, making it the most tumultuous and memorable week of her twenty-something life. (Goodreads)
In Fourth Comings, Jessica Darling has graduated from college and is officially in "the real world." She lives in an apartment in New York City with not only her best friend Hope, but also her "friend" Manda and Manda's girlfriend Shea. She's struggling to pay off her college loans while also trying to have enough money for real food, not a ramen only kind of diet. She works as an editor at a pop psychology online magazine/journal called Think and babysits her niece Marin 10 hours a week, but even two jobs isn't enough when she's living in New York City, which isn't exactly cheap. On top of all this, she has only a week to decide if she wants to marry her boyfriend Marcus or leave him instead. If I were her, I would have exploded from all this stress a long time ago.
All of the events in Fourth Comings take place during one single week, the week when Jessica has to decide whether or not to accept Marcus's proposal. At first, I wasn't sure how I would like this shortened timeline, but I hardly even noticed that it was only one week. So much happened in just this short span of time that I never felt bored. There are flashbacks scattered throughout showing all of the events that led up to Marcus's proposal. The flashbacks actually worked really well, as they give us a deeper understanding of all Jessica has been going through, and where both she and Marcus are at in their relationship. With Marcus going to Princeton and Jessica out in the working world, the two of them are at completely different stages of their lives, which leads to some issues between them.
In the style of every Jessica Darling book that has come before it, Fourth Comings is absolutely hilarious and over the top ridiculous in the best way. Jessica's life almost resembles a half hour comedy, with only the accompanying laugh track missing. With a cast of absurd characters, there's never a dull moment and I find myself marveling that Jessica has remained sane after all she has experienced. We see the return of so many beloved characters, even if their reappearance was short-lived, and we witness many touching moments shared between Jessica and her friends and family members. While Jessica's journal entries mention Bridget, Manda, Len and others, McCafferty mainly focuses on Marcus's and Jessica's relationship, and that is the way it should be.
In Fourth Comings, McCafferty mixes it up a little. For the first time, Jessica is not just writing these diary entries for her own eyes, as she plans to send them to Marcus to explain her thought process as she makes her final decision. If you're worried that this will take away from the reading experience or affect Jessica's honesty, never fear! Even when she tries to censor herself, Jessica always fails, and her entries are just as emotional and cynical and open as they are always were before.
While Fourth Comings is filled with crazy situations and laughable moments, it is also painfully realistic. Having been in Jessica's shoes, actually I'm still wearing them, and as a relatively recent college graduate, I am well aware of the difficulties one faces when searching for a job right out of college. Not only is it nearly impossible to find a job that pays decently, depending on your major, but sometimes, when you actually do find a job worth having, it isn't even related to what you studied. Jessica was fortunate to find a job that uses her psychology major, but it pays very little and she's barely getting by.
Fourth Comings does a wonderful job of showing what it's like to have no idea what you're doing with your life. It's a horrible feeling, and I really sympathized with Jessica. She has so many possible paths she could take that she is simply overwhelmed and terrified of making the wrong choice. I'm glad that McCafferty didn't make it easy for Jessica. I find it unrealistic when a protagonist just magically happens upon this really awesome job opportunity and everything just goes her way, which makes absolutely no sense and rarely happens in real life. That sort of plot line doesn't make me feel hopeful; it makes me feel like the lowliest of the low for not having the same happen to me.
But with Fourth Comings, I could completely understand what Jessica was going through. Her life is filled with ups and downs, though with definitely more downs than ups. Her parents are having trouble in their relationship, her sister is asking her to take on a huge responsibility just as Marcus is asking her to commit, and, worst of all, she isn't sure if she can trust Hope any longer. It's just way too much to handle all at once, and I admire her for making it through, even when she's tempted to break down.
Fourth Comings takes on a bleaker outlook than any of the previous books, but among its pages, there is still plenty of hope (ha! her best friend's name) and love and friendship. Jessica, no matter what she goes through, is still as funny and sassy as ever. I am nervous about reading Perfect Fifths after seeing so many negative reviews, but I am anxious to see what happens to Jessica next and to watch her grow as an individual even more.