Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publication: January 5th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Advance Reading Copy
Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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.
I received a Digital ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for my participation in this blog tour. By no means have my review been affected and/or influenced.
Firsts is an honest, straightforward and thought-provoking book about sex and virginity. It tells about Mercedes and how she offers to have sex with virgin boys so to teach them how to give the perfect first time to their girlfriends. Sex in YA isn’t really something new. I believe some of us have read several books where some characters engage in such activities but with this book, it is kind of different-and unusual.
There were quite a few “firsts” that I have encountered in this book. It was my first time to come across a book with such a plot. Like I said, it’s very uncommon. It’s not for me to say that it’s one of kind since I’ve not read enough books yet but I can tell you that it’s something I haven’t read before. Although, I think it was too risqué for a YA book to have a 17 year old main character offer sex to boys she barely even know like it’s just a simple favor. But still, it worked. The synopsis alone screams “Read me!”.
Then we have Mercy, another first on my list. Mercy is an original, which is something that YA books should continue having,
not a cut out from a different book. My first impression about her is that she is stupid, reaaaaaally stupid! I almost wanted to yell at her because of the decisions she keeps making. But on the other hand, she’s strong, independent and smart. She is passionate about science and really loves to teach. If she can only see how great she is, she is more than just a girl who sleeps around. It shouldn’t even define her.
It was also my first time to read a book with a broad opinion about sex. It did not only revolve around what’s happening in Mercy’s bedroom but also Mercy’s friend, Angela. Angela does not believe in sex before marriage but when she learns that Mercy is not a virgin anymore, she becomes pressured into giving it up to her boyfriend (who was also giving hints that he wants to get in her pants). I like how this book implies that it’s okay to have different opinions sex and this shouldn’t affect the way you think about other people.
Now that I’ve mentioned it, Firsts also gave light to the issue of being pressured into having sex. It’s a sad thing to see how some characters were struggling with this issue. But what is more sad is that it happens in real life too. But what this book teaches us is that we shouldn’t give into the pressure and be wise.
Aside from the sex theme, there was also Mercy’s family issues. One of the things I’ve noticed is how Mercy calls her Mom by her first name. It confused me in the beginning to who Kim was but later on I realized that she is Mercy’s Mom. It became evident that they don’t quite have a good relationship. This leads to Mercy making unwise decisions. She sometimes purposely mess up things just to see if her mother would care, but in the end, she’s only causing trouble to herself.
Firsts will open your eyes to many things. Your bookshelf will be incomplete without this book. And if you still aren’t convinced, let me just mention that there’s a major shocker that I won’t tell you anything about. You just have to read it for yourself!
Check out FIRSTS’ book trailer!
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin
Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor. Melanie, or whatever her name is, owes me big time.
Except she’ll never know it.
“You’re not staying over,” I say, fastening the robe around my waist. “You’ll get there. Girls care less about that than you think. Especially in the beginning. You can work up to it together.”
He grins. He looks different, more handsome somehow. In the softer light, his pimples aren’t as evident and his jawline seems more pronounced. One day, I think Evan Brown could even be a heartbreaker.
But that day isn’t today.
I glance at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven p.m. on a Tuesday. “It’s a school night, Evan. Time for you to go. Your mother will wonder where you are.” Or I assume she would. Most mothers do. Not mine, of course.
His grin turns into a frown. “Do I, you know, owe you something? I don’t know how this works . . .” His voice trails off.
“You don’t owe me anything. Just be good to her, okay? Remember everything we talked about.”
I know he will. He even took notes. Open her car door for her. Bring her flowers, not something generic like roses but her actual favorite flowers. Have dinner reservations in advance, not necessarily somewhere fancy but somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first kiss or where you realized you loved her. Kiss her, not just on her lips but in unexpected places. On the nape of her neck. On her forehead. On her wrist. Push her hair behind her ears gently. Take a picture. She’ll want to remember the night.
I swallow against a lump that has risen up suddenly in my throat. It’s not that Evan is different—he’s a nice guy, a kid who loves his girlfriend and wants to please her. Maybe I’m the one who’s different. Maybe this speech is starting to feel too familiar. I told myself five favors for five deserving virgins. Five was the line I drew in the sand, and I trampled over it like it wasn’t even there. Evan is the tenth, and ten is a line I can’t just trample past.
But I’m certainly not going to get into this with Evan, so I put on a fake smile. I gesture around the room at the chaise lounge and walk-in closet and floor-to-ceiling shoe rack. “Besides, I really don’t need your money. Spend it on Melody.”
He pulls his boxers and pants back on. His movements are more measured, not the bumbling, terrified movements of the Evan Brown who entered my bedroom an hour ago. Even his voice seems deeper, like he came here a boy and is leaving as a man. I suppose that’s not far from the truth. I allow myself a little smile, a real one this time. It’s easy to reaffirm what I do. What happened to Evan in my bedroom will change him, make him into a more consider- ate lover, even a better boyfriend. Moments like these are what made that line in the sand so easy to obliterate.
Moments like these, I could see an eleventh, even though I promised myself that’s not going to happen. I’m starting the second half of senior year with all of my good karma already under my belt.
“I don’t know where you came from, but you saved my life, Mercy. I mean, Mercedes. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”
“You would’ve ripped five condoms by accident, and you might’ve drowned the girl in saliva. But now, you’re going to nail it. Literally.”
He tugs his shirt over his head. “When Gus told me how you helped him, I didn’t believe it. But he was right—you’re an angel.” He pauses. “But can I ask you—”
I cut him off midsentence. “No, you can’t. Don’t spoil it.” “But you didn’t even let me finish,” he protests.
“Oh, I let you finish,” I say. “The one thing you can do for me is not ask me any questions.”
He nods. “Fair enough.” “Goodnight, Evan,” I say.
“Goodnight, Mercy. Uh, Mercedes.” He gets to my bedroom door and pauses with his hand on the doorknob.
“This won’t be awkward at school tomorrow, will it?” he says, looking back at me.
“Of course not,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “It’s not going to be awkward at all, because what happened in this room becomes just a figment of your imagination the second you walk out that door.”
He gives me a tight-lipped smile and pulls the door shut after him. I can see his shoes underneath, can tell he’s lingering there, wondering if he said too much or not enough, not entirely convinced that his secret is safe with me.
But he has nothing to worry about. His secret, like those of nine of his fellow seniors, is safe with me. At Milton High, I’m my own statistic. People fail to see the great equalizer, the one thing the band geeks, the drama nerds, the jocks, and the preppies all have in common.
The girl who took their virginity.
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