Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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three-half-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.

I fucking loved this book, you guys, and I didn’t really see that coming. Firsts was a book that could go so very wrong or that could be incredibly important. Thankfully, it’s not the former at all, but it’s even more than just important thematically; it’s really fucking good. It’s safe to say that there’s no YA book out there like Firsts, and I’m glad that it exists.

Firsts will most likely get banned. A lot. I wish that weren’t the case, but this is a book that’s going to make a lot of people deeply uncomfortable. Heck, there were a fair number of times it made ME really uncomfortable. It’s meant to, because there are a lot of really uncomfortable things in our society. This book will offend anyone who can’t handle casual sex or graphic sex scenes.

gif people suck easy a

Imagine Easy A only the Emma Stone character actually has sex with the guys, rather than just pretending. Mercedes, at the novel’s opening, is helping her tenth and final virgin. She promised herself it would just be ten. That’s just one of her rules. Each guy has to be in love with his girlfriend and he has to be a virgin. Her goal is that those girls get the wonderful first times that she did not; she’s just helping the guys know what to do and be less nervous.

There are pretty graphic sexual acts in a lot of the chapters in Firsts. I know there’s been discussion about other books in the past, about where the line is and how much detail is okay. Personally, I think it’s better for teens to have information, and it’s better to get it from books like this that don’t demonize or romanticize the act beyond what it is. The scenes in Firsts often tend almost to the detached and critical, because that Mercedes’ view of sex. That does change throughout the book, and I think, with this one point of view, Flynn captures a lot of different reactions and sexual experiences.

gif amazing thing is it's nobody's goddamn business easy a

Mercedes breaks my heart. I wasn’t really expecting to feel so damn much from this book, but she just kills me. At the start, she’s confident and in control. She’s a boss bitch, and I loved her instantly. Quickly, you find out how much of that is an illusion, a lie she’s been telling to everyone, including herself, for a very long time. It’s not until almost the end that Mercedes actually opens up with anyone about what’s happened to her.

gif i kind of hate me too easy a

The relationship in the book that ended up being most powerful for me was unexpected. Mercedes’ friend Angela seemed to sort of be in the background and, though she’s Mercedes’ closest friend, they didn’t really seem that close. In the end, it proves strong and emotional, and I really love the way that Flynn handled Angela’s faith. View Spoiler »

gif lady balls easy a

The romance in Firsts very much worked for me, but I am left with some SERIOUS reservations. All of this pretty much falls in a vaguely spoilery realm, so I’ll go into the tags just in case. View Spoiler »

The other thing that gnaws at me is Kim, Mercedes’ mother. I’d really have loved more of a confrontation. Her mother has done a lot to help mess her up, and at the end Mercedes reaches a sort of acceptance about that, but that seemed like too much too easily. Her mother’s not watched out for her, lied to her, and encouraged her to be anorexic, among other things. It’s hugely problematic, and I feel like Mercedes’ calm acceptance at the end might send the wrong messages for teen readers. I just wish there was a bit more there, that Kim had learned something or that Mercedes’ dad had figured into the plot really at all.

gif there are two sides to every story easy a

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts packed a punch I didn’t expect. I urge you to read it. There’s a lot to talk about here.

Favorite Quote:

I remember her sobbing over a martini one night, her sooty black eye makeup running into the fine lines on her face. “The people you love and need the most never need you back,” she had wailed, sloshing the contents of her drink all over my bunny pajamas. She was talking about some guy, but maybe it was the most honest advice my ten-year-old self could hear.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif a is for awesome easy a

3 responses to “Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn”

  1. Wow, sounds intense! Definitely facing down some future banning. Nice collection of Easy A gifs, btw. 🙂
    looloolooweez recently posted…Book Review | The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan EigMy Profile

  2. Heather says:

    This book will make people uncomfortable, you say? Added to my TBR list. Thanks, buddy1 🙂 haha!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Hollaaaaa! I hope you enjoy it Heatherface. I think even if you don’t, it’s an interesting one to think about/discuss.

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