Book Talk: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Book Talk: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Mercedes, the main character, helps guys make their first time with their girlfriend perfect — or at least way better than her first time experience. She gives them tips for creating the perfect night and, well, hands on experience. The catch is they have to be virgins. She’s kept it a secret from her friends, the student body and her mom, who isn’t around much anyways. Soon word gets around a little too much and guys start trying to take advantage of her services — namely her best friend’s boyfriend who isn’t happy when she refuses and threatens to expose her and destroy her reputation.

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It took me a looong time to process this one after I read it! So yeah….my brain was just cricket noises because it didn’t know what to think.

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Woo boy, this book. I have thoughts and feelings. I had to try hard to block out my old lady feels towards what was going on because half the time I was like CHILD NO to many of the characters and situations. Firsts is definitely a honest and provocative book that will make you uncomfortable for sure but I loved the honest and open exploration of teen sexuality in it though I felt kind of conflicted about certain aspects.

The main character, Mercedes, takes it upon herself to help guys who are virgins so that their girlfriends’ first time is better than her first time was. And by help, I mean she sleeps with them to show them how to do it/gives pointers and tips and then helps them plan the other ways to make it special for their girlfriend. I’ll get to Mercedes’s motivations later but the whole time I was like ARE THESE GUYS DUMB? Like, yep, every girl wants their boyfriend to cheat on them in order to have a great first time. But then I’m like oh yeah…they are teenage guys? So naturally, even though I’m like OMG THIS IS A TRAINWRECK OF THE WORST KIND, I couldn’t put this book down.

Anyways, I did like how it portrayed a girl embracing her sexuality, enjoying it and feeling empowered by it (though sometimes I felt conflicted about it based on her reactions to some things and her reasons for doing it. Plus yay safe sex! I liked that it also kind of brushes on intimacy as well. Mercedes struggles with it and I enjoyed watching her explore that aspect of relationships.

I loved that her friend Angela (who is a REALLY great friend in this novel) also explored the other side of really questioning whether or not she wants to have sex right now. There wasn’t any shaming in the subtext of the book on either side and each exploration was thoughtful. I also REALLY loved this look into how there are all these expectations when it comes to sex. I haven’t been a teenager for a while but I just remember it being on my mind a lot going back and forth of whether or not I was “ready” and like the logistics (would it hurt? How bad? What do I do??) and the feeling of being incredibly terrified/excited about this THING that has been hyped up my whole entire existence- by people, by movies, by tv, by the talk at school. I just really loved the real talk.

A huge part of the plot of this novel is when things get out of hand (aka sometimes word of mouth is a little too good for your gig) and some people aren’t coming to Mercedes for the right reasons. There is assault and blackmail and word gets out about what Mercedes has been up to. AND OF COURSE….the slut shamers come out in full force for Mercedes and not the guys! SHOCKER. Sure, some of the girlfriends are mad at the guys but all the hate and shaming falls on Mercedes. I always appreciate books that show this double standard because GAH IT MAKES ME SO MAD.

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Also, the actual romance in this book was SOOOO SWEET.

So in general I appreciated things in this book but there were some things I was unsure of or made me disconnect a little from the book:

  1. I understood Mercedes’s intentions and reasoning in some ways (even though I disagreed) after learning what happened to her in her past. I got it. But I can’t say I felt particularly connected especially because I just never felt like I really knew Mercedes in general. The character development was a little lacking for me. I just felt like I should have FELT more for her even though logically felt bad for what happened to her.
  2. Some of the things felt like a Lifetime movie and also the ending was suuuuuper neat and tidy and I felt weird about some things I can’t really explain.

 

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ plot & how it pulled this storyline off well, how I devoured it, so much discussion around teen sexuality & more, cute romance
–  never felt like I really GOT Mercedes, some eye-rolly things, some things with the ending that I can’t fully explain

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Nah but I hope they have it in my library!

a5contemporary YA fans who like something that might be polarizing, fans of sex positive books, readers looking for something that explores sexuality, maybe fans of 17 First Kisses

a8Overall I enjoyed this one! It was a read I couldn’t put down because I was just waiting for the implosion! It made me feel uncomfortable at times, was super provocative and I really appreciated the way it explored so many things about teenage sexuality.

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I added this to my Goodreads shelf after I saw you had marked it as currently reading because that synopsis sounds so bad it might be good? I’ve been waiting on your review of this one to see if I really wanted to pick it up. So thank you for the review! I mean it DOES sound like a train wreck that I want to watch play out and I’m glad to hear the positive things you said about it. I think I’m just too curious about it! My library has it so I’ll check it out!

    • I think it’s definitely a book if you are curious…go for it. I know people who have been on the HATE side but others are on the LOVE side. I was definitely more in the middle. It will at least give us something fun to talk about if you hate it!! haha. Also, I have been awful at responding to Twitter but YES February for Darkest Minds!!

  2. I have been sooo keen to get to this book!! I’m hoping to read it before the end of the month. The premise is just so unique and controversial! I’m sure I’ll have to same sort of reaction as you, half like proud that she’s owning her body and her sexuality and not letting society dictate her decisions, but also be like ‘PLEASE STOP! YOU THINK THIS IS GOOD BUT REALLY THIS IS PROBABLY THE WORST COPPING MECHANISM EVER!’ I actually love books with slut shammers because it like shines a light on this truly frustrating and sexist part of society. Great review!! You only made me more excited to get my hands on this book!!! 😀

    • I will be SO curious what you think if you read it! And I’m with you…some of my favorite books deal amazingly with the rampant slut shaming in our society. I read All The Rage this past year and that one was amazing!

      • I haven’t heard of All The Rage! I’ll have to goodreads it! I’m planning out my mental TBR for the rest of the month and slotting Firsts in there HAHAHA!

  3. Yeah I read this one too, definitely a controversial book. I thought it would use more humor and the reasoning behind a lot of things seemed very shaky. Also pretty sure the cops would have been called at sometime in the story if it was more realistic. You’re right though it that I just had to know what would happen.

    • Agreed! I think that’s why I felt weird about the ending! I mean, someone would be in big trouble for the sex tape! And also, with the reasoning behind why she did it, I was like okay clearly I don’t agree with sleeping with other girl’s boyfriends but should I be applauding her being empowered by her sexuality when the reasoning was what it was? IDK so much to process with this book! But soooo hard to put down. Love a good controversial book!

  4. I’ve heard such amazing things about this book but I don’t think I’ll be reading it as teens having sex makes me uncomfortable haha! Great review! 🙂

  5. I have been trying to muck through this book for a month now. I keep putting it down because it keeps making me angry. It is not YA, it is NA skating as YA with a MC that is just shy of being NA age and in college. When I read the blindfold and leather straps bit I was livid.

  6. Great review, Jamie!

    I definitely had to stop and think about how I felt after I finished reading this one, too. I did feel like I connected pretty well with Mercedes, even though I’m nothing like her and would have probably never done any of the stuff she did in the novel. And some of her choices and actions did bother me. I really liked FIRSTS, but I definitely didn’t like that the virgins Mercedes was helping were all in relationships…that part bugged me so much, as did some of the behaviours of the guys once Angela’s boyfriend got involved, especially the foreign exchange student (his name is escaping me right now). And *SPOILER* it really bothered me that she slept with him when she didn’t actually want to. The fact that she slept with him because she felt obligated to do so just really took away from how in control she was every other time she CHOSE to have sex. Those two aspects were the only parts that kept me from flat-out loving the story because I did really love the writing. I also really appreciated Mercedes’ honesty as a narrator, and how the book challenged stereotypes though. It’s nice to see books where double-standards are pointed out and where others point out how wrong they are.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂