Published by St. Martin's Press on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Dating & Sex, Romance, Contemporary
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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 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 own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
Firsts is one of those Marmite novels. You’re either going to love it or hate it, due to its honest and possible somewhat taboo(?) subject matter. There are very few YA novels that deal with sex in such an in your face way, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a female MC like Mercy. Mercy is a Marmite character herself, and not a lot of people are going to appreciate her frankness, and the way she deals with everything in her life, not just sex. She’s very forthright about everything.
I’m still not 100% sure how I felt about Firsts. Did I like what Mercy did, with those guys? No. Regardless of why she thought she was doing it, what she essentially was doing was cheating, as all of the guys had girlfriends. And you’d have to be pretty bloody naive to think it wasn’t going to come out at some point, and it was like waiting for a car crash to happen; or to wait for that one guy who wanted nothing but revenge on Mercy, though I will say, it surprised me who was the one who sought out revenge. But, saying that, it’s not as if Mercy deserved what happened when it all came out, that’s not what I’m saying at all. It was just the kind of thing that was always going to cause trouble for Mercy.
But I actually liked Mercy. I didn’t like what she did, and her reasons for doing it (I knew from almost the first page what had happened to Mercy to make her the way she is, and I kinda hate it when MC’s use past incidents as the reason they are the way they are). Aside from all that, I did like her. I especially liked her when she was around her friends – Angela, Zach and the new, and very bouncy, Faye. Faye just came bouncing into the novel like a ray of sunshine, and she intrigued me because I wasn’t sure for a long, long time if she was genuine or not. But I liked her, I liked Faye, and I loved Zach. Zach was like a little puppy, so eager and lovely, and his relationship with Mercy was very much like the one in The DUFF, a novel I LOVED.
This was only an okay read for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. It never really got that spark for me. Like I said, it wasn’t a bad read. And I liked Faye, Zach, I liked Mercy at times, but I wish she’d had a bit more emotion in her. There was no real explanation for her lack of emotions. And the way she treated her mom was unreal. I’d be slapped if I spoke to my mam like that, or called her by her real name. Maybe her mom wasn’t there for her, but whenever she did try, Mercy wasn’t interested and it was so frustrating, because she complained about her mom not trying, then complained when she tried and it was like ARGH. So, yeah, the book was basically okay. I applaud Flynn for the topic, it was very brave, but it wasn’t executed enough for me to love it. Although I’m not sure how you can ever love a plot like that, so who knows what I’m saying. A more emotional, softer side of Mercy might have helped.