"Perfect In Its Imperfection"

Today I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends: Jessica Darling.

I just finished Perfect Fifths, the last installment of Megan McCafferty’s “Jessica Darling” series which includes Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, and Fourth Comings, and I have to say it was a bittersweet moment. As much as I hate to say “goodbye,” the end of the series was exactly what it needed to be.

I first met Jessica as a Freshman in High School and her hyper-observant wit spoke to me. I, like many self-involved High School students, thought I was the only one going through typical teenager drama: parents who just don’t understand, intense crushes, friends you don’t even like that much, and of course college acceptance drama–but what moved me about Jessica wasn’t her ability to speak what was on my mind, it was her ability to explain it with such candor and with such a caustic wit that I felt like I was reading pages from my own journals instead of those of a fictional character.

Jessica’s journals got me through High School, and then with Charmed Thirds and Fourth Comings, through my first two years of college. Jessica helped me in more ways than the University at Buffalo brochure or my academic advisor ever could. She taught me that sometimes “shitty” things just happen, that you have to go with your gut, and she taught me that I needed to find my voice–she inspired me to write for a campus publication. Her on-again/off-again complex relationship with her (almost) High School sweetheart Marcus Flutie was yet another reason why Jessica was the best mentor I’ve ever had. Having ended, started, ended, started, and eventually ended a relationship much in the same vein as Jessica helped me realize that you need to do what you feel is right…no matter what (even if it means meaningless sex with a “Deathcab Cutie.”)

In Perfect Fifths, Jessica is all grown up…she’s 25, and she runs into (literally) Marcus Flutie at Newark Liberty Airport. Without spoiling the book (for those of you who are chomping at the bit as I was) Perfect Fifths is in fact, perfect. It provided the ending to the Marcus-Jessica drama that I feel every Jessica-disciple will be happy with…not because it was romantic and mushy–oh, far from it–but because it was real. It happened to Jessica just as it could happen to you or me. People can be together, grow apart, and then run into each other at an airport…(and I’ll leave the final moments for all of you to find out when the book officially comes out).

What I love the most about Jessica (and Megan McCafferty for that matter) is that she’s real. Perfect Fifths is, as Marcus puts his and Jessica’s relationship, “perfect in it’s imperfection.” The outcome isn’t perfect, but life isn’t perfect. It’s real and that’s why I (and the rest of the JD fans out there) have come to know and love Jessica. She’s you. She’s me. She’s all of us.

Megan McCafferty definitely did not let fans down with Perfect Fifths. It’s the perfect ending to the series and while I will miss Jessica and her ability to help me and speak to me, I feel infinitely lucky to have known her at all. Thank you Ms. McCafferty, for the memories. I know that when it gets rough I can always open my books and visit my friend.

Perfect Fifths is released on April 14, 2009–if you’re a fan, pre-order it, or get right to the bookstore that morning.

If you have yet to be introduced to Jessica Darling, I urge you to go pick up a copy of Sloppy Firsts, and let your journey begin.

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