Can you handle a little more Spinelli gushing? I hope so, cause I wasn’t quite finished with Space Station Seventh Grade. Though I did like SSSG a little more than Jason and Marceline. Why? Jason’s assholiness was kind of cute and naive in SSSG, but in J&M he just seemed like an asshole. Blame that one on the fact that he aged from 12 to 15. 12 year old boys can still be sweet and boyish and adorable and naive. 15 year old boys…ugh. No reminders that my own boy will be 15 in a mere 12.5 years, please.
This book is told in usual Spinelli fashion of short vignette-like chapters, where not much seems to happen. Until it does.
You know the main character by now, Jason Herkimer. Now in ninth grade. Has been….something….with Marceline McAllister since the end of seventh grade. They do stuff together. They’ve been to each other’s houses. They haven’t kissed, but he likes her better than the two girls he has kissed. So what are they? Jason doesn’t know. Marceline is just the same as she ever was. She isn’t ordinary, and Jason clearly thinks she’s extraordinary. But he can’t admit it, because all the other kids in school think Marceline is weird. And Jason just isn’t as comfortable with that as Marceline is.
They start the ninth grade and some funny shit happens right off. A classmate of their’s Jewel Fiorito suddenly has ginormous boobs, which every guy drools over. Jason tries (and fails) to sneak into a football game where he “gets polluted” off 1/3 a can of beer and one cigarette….and Marceline. Geez…he goes to a babysitting job with Marceline and he becomes convinced that she wants him to put a move on her. Instead of doing something normal, like holding her hand or giving her a quick kiss to test the waters, Jason reaches out and grabs her boob during a game of Scrabble. Nice.
So Marceline doesn’t talk to him for a few weeks, which is hilariously told in a chapter consisting almost entirely of apology letters Jason writes to Marceline, and one short letter Marceline writes back to Jason chastising him for his spelling. Funny stuff. So time goes on, and they continue being “something.” They go on a double date with Richie and his girlf, Cricket. (Yes, Cricket.) After watching Richie and Cricket making out for the whole movie, Jason finally gets the nerve up to kiss Marceline. And remember how I said Spinelli can fucking write? This is what I’m talking about. Have you ever read a better first kiss scene?
“As I came closer to Marceline, the reflected light went out in her right eye, then her left, as the shadow of my face passed over hers (A total eclipse!) The eyes of the adults behind us were gleaming, gleaming out of faces I would never know, pale and ghostly faces, watching, watching…and then I saw nothing, because my own eyes were shut. (Toss a baby into the water and it holds its breath: kiss a girl and your eyelids come down.) And then, at long long last, the only spot possible in all the universe – a little jolt, a bump, too hard-throttle back, ease off-there, okay okay (Mission Control – We have contact!)-as perfect a landing as I was ever going to make.”
Hell yeah. And Marceline kisses back, and its blissful and good. And Jason absolute lives and thrives off this kiss for days. And they kiss some more and he lives and thrives off those kisses for even more days.
But eventually, because he’s fifteen and a horndog and cares too much about what other kids think of him, it’s not enough for Jason. He was tongue, and he wants a hickey, which are all the rage. Marceline flat out refuses the hickey. When Jason tries to slip her the tongue they get into a fight and Marceline gives in and lets him french her. And I’m a little disappointed because she’s a strong girl and I want her to slip Jason the tongue, I just don’t want her to be guilted in to doing that. Then Jason turns into an asshole. Really.
Then their relationship starts to go downhill. They fight more often, and it is clearly all Jason’s fault. But they always make up and Jason is starting to feel desperation. He can’t decide if he’s crazy about her or he should dump her. Jason’s friend, Peter, starts dating Jewel Fiorito, who so far in the book has been defined by her tits. Peter fights the toughest guy in school after he makes some nasty comments about Jewel’s boobs. Jason thinks it’s awesome that Peter fought for his gal and he wants to do the same.
Then Marceline dumps Jason. And it’s soooo sad. And Jason doesn’t know what to do. So he finds a reason to fight someone who makes a lame joke about Marceline, but the kid won’t fight back. Then he starts making out with some other girl and they give each other mutual hickeys, but he still isn’t happy. Then he finds out Marceline might be seeing this other kid from another school and he goes nutso and follows them.
And, naturally, we need a dramatic scene in the last few chapters. So here it is: There’s this seventh grade kid, nicknamed Rudy, who has idolized Jason and the other 9th graders even though they pick on him. One day in the caf, some 9th grade asshole starts picking on him and Rudy ends up choking on a chicken nugget. Kids are laughing at Rudy, but Jason sees what’s really going on. He rushes over and performs the heimlich, and the kid is OK, but is clutching at Jason and crying. And who is there watching? Marceline. Then they go to the 9th grade prom together, and they are back together, but like they were in the beginning of the book. The End.
- Beautiful book, as expected. Great writing, real characters, funny dialogue. God, what else can you ask for?
- Jason’s mom and stepdad win an award for some of the best parenting in YA lit. So many YA books are full of crap parenting. Mom is more the disciplinarian. Ham (the stepdad) is more lenient. And you know what they do? They talk about how to handle problems with their kids. It’s actually pretty nice to see, especially after the half-assed parenting in Who Put that Hair in my Toothbrush.
- Jason wants more body hair. So he decides to shave his whole body to make it grow back thicker and darker. While he’s covered in shaving cream, his stepbrother and sister walk in on him and that is freaking funny!
- When Jason and Marceline babysit, Marceline makes Jason hold the baby (five months old) but Jason had never held a baby. Turns out he likes it. Because it makes him feel powerful to be needed. *rolls eyes at stupid boys*
- Oh, the girl that Jason crushed so hard on in SSSG, Debbie Breen. Loses her virginity in this book. Evidently the first girl in the class to do it. Jason, in a surprising show of maturity, doesn’t care.
- But the funniest scene? Jason pops some wood while slow dancing with Marceline. And he calls his dick his “lower nose.” Which made me squirm reading this back then, but now I think it’s fucking hilarious.
There’s probably a lot more that could be said about this book. But 1-I have a headache. 2-Grady is about to wake up from his nap, and 3- my wrist hurts from typing. So sorry. It wasn’t my best blogpost and I’m aware of that. I can’t always bring my A game, I guess. Next post though…a continuation of my top 5 BSC books.