Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon

**Thanks to Netgalley for providing an advanced copy of this book**

"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 used to like the name Mercedes. That is, until I figured out I was named after a car. The shiny red car that my dad loved more than anything--the one he waved from as he drove away"

I'm going to start out by saying that I disagree with most reviewers.
Mercedes is not a horrible person. She is a damaged, confused girl in a lot of pain. She's angry that her father left her behind, angry that her mother is never around, she's angry at Luke for the pain he caused her. Mercedes has felt how shitty it is to be left behind, how it makes you feel completely helpless, and she's vowed to stay in control so she never has to feel helpless ever again.

She's been brought up by a woman who puts appearance and the attention of men above anything else.
"My mom started teaching me about birth control when other moms were still on tampons."

She is misguided, that for sure. But in her twisted way, she truly does believe that she's helping people. That taking the virginity of other peoples boyfriends will insure that their first time is a positive experience, unlike her own.
"Jillian was everything I wasn't--pure, innocent, and unaware if how much pain the opposite sex could inflict, physically and emotionally. I wanted her to stay unaware."

Mercedes broke my heart. I saw so much of myself and of other girls I know in her. Anti-slut-shaming is a trend right now, one that I wholeheartedly agree with, but when it comes to unfaithfulness in relationships, there is a huge double standard. Mercedes was single, she didn't cheat on anyone. Was it a shitty thing to have done? Absolutely. But the guys were the ones who made the choice to cheat on their girlfriends, then call Mercedes a slut and a bad person, what does that make them?

I loved this book. It's not easy to write a likable, sympathetic character who does bad things, but Mercedes is just that. Not only is she an amazing character, but so are her friends.
Fraye is absolutely amazing. The kind of friend who would have changed my life in high-school. She most likely saved Mercedes life. The relationship between Mercedes and Zach was sweet, not in a typical young adult way, but in a real, "this is the kind of stuff that actually happens in high-school" way. It was refreshing and it was real.

To me, this book wasn't about a homewrecker, it was about love, pain, and forgiveness.I hope that it sparks some important conversations about double standards, slut shaming, and sexual liberation in young people. For people willing to keep an open mind, I can't recommend this book enough.

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