Review: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends by Megan McCaffertyThe (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty
Series: Jessica Darling's It List #2
Published by Poppy on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Humor
Pages: 194
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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three-half-stars

Jessica Darling is getting the hang of seventh grade -- finally! While her old BFF, Bridget, is busy talking (nonstop) about her new boyfriend, Burke, Jessica tries to fit in with her new friends, Sara, Manda, and Hope. The IT List instructions from her sister, Bethany, and an epic slumber party may help Jessica secure her spot in the cool clique, but does she even want it?

Megan McCafferty's It List series introduces readers to Jessica Darling, an unabashedly brainy seventh grader who stays true to herself, even if it means being (totally not) cool.

Oh, Jessica Darling, crusher of my middle grade shippy heart. Snarky voice that makes me know you’re a kindred spirit. Judgmental nature that makes me wonder if you are in fact me. I love Jessica Darling, though I have not yet gotten the bravery to venture past book two in her original series. I know it’s weird to call myself a big fan when I didn’t even read half of it, but I am so deal with it. The middle grade Jessica books aren’t what the older ones are, which is both a wonderful and a sad thing.

The big downside of middle grade Jessica is the lack of shippiness. I live for ships and middle graders just do not ship as well as young adults. Plus, this is excellent too, because Jessica really doesn’t have a crush on anyone and it’s fun to watch her navigate that. Poor MG Jessica gets involved in a scandal, cast as the attempted seductress of a friend’s boyfriend, and it’s so funny because she wants no part of the boyfriend or any boy really. Also, just the drama level of the romantic relationships in the seventh grade cracks me up. Possible break ups are met with wailing, but the couples really have nothing to talk about ever. Dawwww, the past.

MG Jessica’s obviously herself. There’s no one quite like Jessica Darling. She’s still hilarious and rather bitchy in her head, but she’s not as bitter yet. It’s pretty evident how Jessica got this way, caught in between two warring groups of friends, all determined to have major drama. In this book, her friendship with Hope is really transforming beyond the acquaintance phase and into true BFF mode, which is super sweet.

The focus of book two, as the much too long title indicates, is friendship. Jessica’s on the borders of popularity, with four of her best friends being mega-popular, six if she counts the soccer friends but she usually does forget to. The thing is that Jessica’s not actually sure if she likes most of her friends. She does really like the soccer girls, but she kind of forgets them. So much of middle school friendship is about location, as Jessica realizes. She sees the other girls a lot and so they’re friends. Or frenemies. Or something. By the end of this book, she’s starting to really learn something about friendship and who she wants to spend her time with, but it’s going to take some more.

The Marcus Flutie moments are adorably Marcus, of course. He is by turns obnoxious, weird, adorable, and a genius. The real star of the book, though, is Gladdie, Jessica’s sassy grandmother. I’m pretty sure that Gladdie’s the person most like Jessica. She’s fabulous and should be around all the time.

What I’m struggling with here is relating this book to the teen Jessica. I can’t remember details well enough to say how things align, but I do feel like they’re a bit off. MG Jessica mostly fits, but I have trouble with the It Lists around which the plots are built. I could definitely see Jessica wanting the first one, but I have trouble seeing her taking the second list seriously. Asking for it, sure, but actually using it hoping for real assistance? I’m doubtful. Wanting a THIRD list is even more surprising. Not a huge deal in terms of entertainment, but I did cock my head to the side every time the lists came up.

The Jessica Darling’s It List books are fun and snarky middle grade contemporaries. If you grew up on Jessica Darling, they’re totally worth a read. Though I’m not sure if the final three JD books are worth a read and I definitely want to try the series again now that I’ve read this. Decisions.

Favorite Quote:

It’s important to mention that I’m not misusing literally the way some of my friends do when they say things like, “I’m literally dying of boredom from this conversation” or “I’m literally going to explode out of my jeans because I ate that potato chip.” Those would be correct uses of literally only if Manda snored herself to death and Sara went BAM! like a denim bomb.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif middle school drama
Oh, the middle school drama.

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