Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty is the fifth and final Jessica Darling novel and, after all the ups and downs, she is still as insecure and confused as ever. She is also as loyal and deeply committed to her friends and family as ever. Not that you really get to know anyone other than Jessica and, this time around, one other person, because, when she literally runs into Marcus Flutie at the airport, the novel slips between their two points-of-view.
Because the novel is more focused on just the two of them, it is perhaps the strongest one of the series. If nothing else, it’s at least as strong as the first novel in the series which greatly benefited from its format. But now, having the opportunity to get inside Marcus’ mind, to see what is motivating him and how he feels about Jessica, is a powerful narrative choice. I think McCafferty did a good job crafting this series in general and I want to reiterate how much I appreciate her choosing to allow Jessica to make the kind of choices a young woman can make for herself—to get an education, to walk away from a relationship that is confusing and overly complicated, to honor herself and allow for mistakes along the way.
In other words, from the first book through this fifth one, we see Jessica grow up into a young woman who still has doubts and desires and dreams and still more doubts. Yes, she is the only well-rounded, fully realized character in the series, surrounded as she is with flat, two-dimensional support players, but she personifies what I think most young women are and how they feel about themselves. I wish Marcus had become something or someone more interesting and it shouldn’t have taken five books to make him someone the reader could see Jessica falling in love with. But if I have to settle for just getting to spend a little more time with Jessica and still not really getting to know anyone else whatsoever, that’s okay. These are fun books and I enjoyed reading them, frivolous though they may be. And, best of all, you want Jessica Darling to have her happily ever after but McCafferty has the sense to know that life is never so uncomplicated and she has the confidence to trust her reader to know this as well. A perfectly gratifying conclusion to a good series of novels.