I’m never sure how much to include in a review of a book from a series. With lighthearted (YA?) fare like Fourth Comings, the fourth (duh) entry in Megan McCafferty’s series about Jessica Darling, I assume that no one really cares if I spoil things from previous entries or not. Fair warning, some of my discussion will ruin things from the first three novels in the series.
Jessica Darling has graduated from Columbia University and is now attempting to enter the workforce and pay off her enormous student loans. She and her BFF Hope Weaver share a tiny room (they call the Cupcake) in a sub-letted Brooklyn apartment requiring Swedish (or is it Norwegian?) heritage of at least ¼ of the occupants of the house. She works part-time as a writer for a magazine no one reads, and part-time as a nanny for her niece Marin. The book starts off with Jessica helping Marcus, her long-time love, move into his dorm room at Princeton University. Things have gotten a little distant with our beloved couple, and Jessica aims to break up with Marcus that very afternoon. What she doesn’t expect is that he will propose in response, and give her a week to decide whether she’ll be his wife.
This, like all the rest of the Darling novels, is told from Jessica’s point of view; what differs here is that her audience isn’t herself. She isn’t writing in her diaries, she’s writing in a notebook she’ll hand over to Marcus at the end of the week. What’s funny with this approach is that you’re left wondering whether she’s being completely forthright about things (though I suppose you could wonder it about her diaries – who HASN’T fudged a little in journals?). My main issue with this approach is that sometimes Jessica writes about things that Marcus knows, but we don’t. So we don’t get the story of the Shit Fit night, when the couple really had it out. Marcus hates NYC, Jessica hates Jersey, and so they seem to be at an impasse.
The usual cast of characters round out the story. We get to know Hope a little better, though Jessica discovers a secret between Hope and Marcus that really throws her for a loop and so Hope is absent for some part of the writing. I do like her, though, and with her there you can finally feel some depth to a friendship that was mostly epistolic in nature before. We still don’t really know Marcus that well at this point, and this entry won’t improve on that much. Hopefully with the final installment (which I believe does have chapters from his point of view) we will. I did enjoy this fourth installment much more than the third, so hopefully McCafferty wraps up the series well in the next one.