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Jessica Darling: I can't smile without you

Fifths I am an unabashed fan of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series, and while I am perfectly satisfied with the final chapter in Jessica's life, I've got to wonder: Where am I going to get my chick fic fix from now? I'm extremely fussy about these things. And McCafferty's books are smart, hilarious - and right on target.

Here's my review of Perfect Fifths. No spoilers!

Perfect Fifths. Megan McCafferty. Crown. 304 pages. $21.95.

The fifth and final installment in the Jessica Darling Chronicles is not the best of this funny, delightful series, but it's required reading for anyone who has loved Jessica's development from brainy, awkward teenager to successful, if still somewhat scattered, young woman.

On a par with the beloved TV series My So-Called Life, only better because they lasted longer, McCafferty's books have perfectly captured the storm of adolescence, the sexual freedom of college years and the uncertainty of young adulthood through the eyes of the observant, sardonic Jessica. Perfect Fifths tries a few new tricks, one of them guaranteed to please: Part of the story is seen through the eyes of Marcus Flutie, Jessica's on-again, off-again boyfriend, into whom Jessica runs (quite literally) at the Newark airport.

So Jessica and Marcus, who haven't spoken since she turned down his proposal in Fourth Comings, talk. Barry Manilow jokes abound. One section, rendered in dialogue, makes us miss Jessica's wry narration, and another in which they exchange their feelings via a series of ironic haikus just seems silly. What we want to know: Could this be the magic at last? Fifth Comings answers definitively, hilariously, and we are satisfied at last.


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