First by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
First only made it onto my radar towards the end of last year, but as soon as I read the synopsis I knew I HAD to read it. A YA book that doesn't shy away from sex? Sign me up, please! Firsts follows seventeen year old Mercedes who helps virgins give their girlfriends the perfect first time - because it was something she was denied. Only the people Mercedes has helped know about her secret. She's managed to keep it from her absentee mother and her best friend Angela. But what Mercedes didn't expect was Angela's boyfriend to find out about her secret and demand a turn. She also didn't expect her "Wednesday friend" Zach to fall for her for who she is, and not what she can do.
To begin with, I wasn't a fan of Mercedes. I didn't agree with what she was doing as technically, it's still cheating. But, as the book went on, I began to understand why Mercedes does what she does for guys, and honestly, she believes what she's doing is right. Because of what happened to her during her first time, she wants to make sure that no one experiences sex for the first time like she did, and she wants to make sure that the guys give their girlfriends an amazing experience to remember. The other reason I ended up really liking Mercedes is because of how flawed she is. Her flaws made her seem like a real person I could relate to. Mercedes has made a lot of bad decisions, but that's what makes her human and that's what made me really like her character.
A YA storyline that doesn't shy away from sex was refreshing. Sex is a big part of growing up, so I don't understand why it's so taboo and hush hush when it comes to YA. So I really did find this storyline refreshing. Mercedes is sexually active, big deal! It was actually really nice to read about a character who is sexually active. The one thing that kind of ruined that for me was the fact that she hid behind her friends religion so that no one would find out what she was doing. She was promoting herself as a nun basically so that people wouldn't judge her. That's the only major thing I had to pick with this book.
Mercedes best friend Angela is a super religious character, but the one thing I loved was that she never came across super preachy. Generally, every time I've read a book with a religious character all they've done is shove their religion down everyone else's throats, so I loved that Angela wasn't a judgmental character. She was a really good friend and Mercedes was lucky to have her.
Faye was probably my favourite part of the book. Faye moved to Mercedes school during the year, and instantly thought of herself as Mercedes friend. Faye is funny, outgoing and mouthy. She's not afraid to say what she thinks and do what she has to do to protect her friends. She's actually a pretty inspiring character, even if she does make some bad decision. But again, she's human.
I felt so bad for Zach. He really, truly cares about Mercedes, but Mercedes is too wrapped up in helping other guys that she doesn't want anything serious and she risks losing out on such an amazing guy. He put up with so much from Mercedes, but he still stuck by her no matter what.
Flynn did an amazing job with the story. She managed to make me empathize with a girl who sleeps with other girls boyfriends and actually made me understand why she did it. It's still not something I can totally agree with, but by the end of the book, it didn't seem as bad as it did at the beginning. I also liked seeing the fallout due to Mercedes secret. It helped her to grow as a character, and begin to see what was staring her in the face all along.
Overall, Firsts was a very enjoyable read that's extremely controversial and definitely pushes the YA boundaries. It's a book that not everyone is going to enjoy, but in this case, it's one I really enjoyed and one I'd definitely recommend.