Author: Laurie E. Flynn
Published: January 5, 2016 (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sexuality, Romance, Friendship
Source: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: Five Stars
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.
Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.
When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up
Cover Thoughts: I really love the cover, it’s eye catching given the title and the insinuation (with the main character laying on a bed). I like how pink it is. Mostly, I think it’s really pretty.
First Line: Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor.
I immediately thought harshly of Mercedes. Who sleeps with another person’s significant other? Even for what they think is a good cause. I was still intrigued by this idea though, this system of hers, which she believed to help others. This led to my thought “I’ll take that movie now!” only a short 4% into the book.
- Friends With Benefits (Check)
- Dysfunctional Home Life (Check)
- Swoon-Worthy Possible Love Interest (Check)
- School Scandal of Sorts (Check)
This book. I loved it. This is an excellent book. There were so many fantastic parts about it. I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start at the basic storyline of it. . .
Mercedes is a girl who sleeps with guys who are virgins. Her reasoning is that she wants the guys to be prepared for when they have sex with their girlfriends. Fair enough? She thinks of this as just a system, without feelings or attachment. This system only continues because the guys have to promise to not tell anyone about it.
Now, I know what you may be thinking, ‘Isn’t that a bit scandalous?’. Maybe you’re not thinking that, maybe you’re just a bit more open minded than I was about it. However, when I first started reading Firsts I definitely did some head shaking, some silent rebuking, a little bit of judging, let’s be honest. In my first thoughts though, I also made the comment. “I’ll take that movie now!” because when it comes to fiction revolving around sex and high school, I am fascinated with it all. Throw in a somewhat dysfunctional home life and I am all over it.
Written in the vein of Easy A, Firsts most definitely is. This is like a book form of the movie, except with actual sex, of course. I found the entire novel really compelling. It was interesting to see the deeper reasons for why Mercedes would sleep with these guys. I found they made complete sense with her character and background. I would say Firsts is really a great book about self-discovery above all. Mercedes is a senior in high school, she has only one semester left, and she’s applied to MIT. She’s still trying to find herself though and put herself back together in methods some may consider unorthodox.
-Friends With Benefits-
Of course, in a situation like the one Mercedes is in, there’s bound to be one guy that’s into her or vice versa. This guy is named Zach. He maintains a strictly friends-with-benefits relationship with Mercedes. Minus the friends part, really. I loved Zach, he seemed like such a good guy, but possibly in a way that’s almost too good to be true? I’m not sure. Anyway, I liked his interactions with Mercedes a lot and how forgiving he was. He had great scenes with Faye and I liked their friendship. I would have liked to see a little more of it though.
-Chemistry (The Subject)-
I thought it was great how Mercedes was good at chemistry. She tramples all over the stereotypes that girls who are interested in science are nerds and girls who are promiscuous can’t be super smart. Completely trampled over it and I loved that. I like how it was a constant aspect in her life, we saw her in Chemistry class a lot, tutoring kids in Chemistry and also referencing Chemistry in her day to day life, all so flawlessly.
I adored Mercedes, from the very beginning actually. She may not have done the smartest things, but she really believed what she was doing was right. She wasn’t perfect, but she wasn’t the worst person on the planet by far., Even with her various sex escapades. Mercedes was just a girl trying to help people and ended up doing things to help herself. I can’t say I blame her at all. Given her circumstances, in her shoes, at her age, I might have done similar things. She really does have a good heart so it was hard to see people slut shame her. It was really heartbreaking actually.
Besides that, I found that I could relate to Mercedes a lot. There were times she didn’t feel she was loved or worthy, she pushed her friends away, she attempted ticking off her mom just because and she made mistakes.
Mercedes lives in a single parent home after her dad leaves. Her mom, who she calls by her first name, Kim was a very loose mother. She did yoga, did various diets, had plastic surgery and went out a lot at night. I thought it was interesting to see how Kim affected Mercedes even when she wasn’t around, Mercedes wasn’t comfortable eating in front of people. This may sound like a small thing, but I can understand Mercedes in this aspect. As you can imagine, she wasn’t the best role model for Mercedes and in a way, Mercedes did her actions to spite her mother or get her attention. I really hurt for Mercedes having a mother who wasn’t there for her growing up.
In the beginning we learn that Mercedes is best friends with Angela, a strong Christian who attends prayer meetings regularly. Given Mercedes background with guys and Angela’s beliefs, she’s left unaware of Mercedes activities. I like how they end up kind of distancing themselves from each other various times because I can see how that could easily happen, especially in high school.
There was an interesting exploration of feelings between Mercedes and a new friend named Faye. I wasn’t sure what to think of Faye really, like Mercedes, I had my “Eh?” thoughts about her character. I quickly grew to love Faye though. If I ever needed to have someone in my corner from a book, I would want it to be her.
~On The Downside~
Even the greatest books have problems now and then. I did have a few qualms with Firsts.
I am very against cheating of any kind, so seeing that Mercedes helped multiple guys cheat was extremely hard to swallow for me.
I felt the religious group, which of course were Christians, was a little overdone when it comes to fiction about more ‘open-minded’ and/or liberal characters. It was very Easy A-esque in that way and I didn’t care a whole lot for it. Christians always seem to be made out as people that would turn to stone if they ever even thought about sex. Here’s something to remember: Not all Christians are so shy to discuss sex.
While I liked that the main issue of the book was settled, I had a few problems with the lack of resolution, primarily around Mercedes family life. I’m usually okay with a little bit of open ending, but I really felt the family issues lacked any closure, really. Seeing as I adore family plots in stories, this was really disappointing for me.
I believe Firsts is a very important book for it’s honesty about sex and the true to life feelings of high schoolers. Life isn’t black and white, like Mercedes thought it should have been at times. It’s complicated and messy. I think Laurie showed that very well. Not only that, but Firsts delves into the topics of slut shaming, double standards, betrayal, dysfunctional families, controlling relationships, friendship and love. Firsts reminds me of why I love Young Adult books and Contemporary especially, Laurie did a great job at portraying high school issues in a real way. She showed the vicious side that there can be and the sweet side that goes along with it.
~Do I Recommend?~
Fans of Easy A
Fans of The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Fans of lighthearted books with deeper meaning
~Will I Re-Read It?~
-Will I Buy It?-
Without a doubt.
(All quotes have been taken from an eARC and may be subject to change)
Melody sounds like every other girl, the kind who expects fireworks the first time. I know better. Fireworks don’t just happen. They need to be carefully arranged and then ignited slowly.
I wish there was a way I could take the Watcher off my list, but that’s the thing about sex. Once it happens, it can’t unhappen.
I really feel for guys. They have the hard part, physically and emotionally. Virginity is supposed to be something a girl gives up only when she is ready and feels comfortable, something a girl discusses at length with her friends and flip-flops over a million times in her mind before actually doing it. A guy is expected to be born ready.
The more friends you have, the higher your chance of taking a knife in your back.
~By The Way~
By the way, I’ll have Laurie with a guest post here on 19th. 🙂