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.
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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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 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 tried to wait. I tried not writing this review right away, to give myself time to cool off, to let the emotions wane. To have a clear head. But… nope. I can still feel it. Oof! Punch in the gut! I was looking for a light contemp romance, and that’s what I thought this would be. It really was WAY more than I bargained for. It started off light and fun, with a sassy and sarcastic voice. In that moment, it was exactly what I was looking for. But then… it morphed into something much deeper than I could have imagined. Instead of being what I wanted, Firsts was something that I hadn’t even realized I needed.
I’m slapping a content warning on this book, not because of its graphic nature, or the occasional swear word. It does, however, contain very mature subject matter. In case you didn’t read the synopsis…? Just be warned. There were parts of this book that I found extremely difficult to read. The lines of consent were blurred, but at the same time, it had never been so clear. No always means no. It doesn’t mean that the girl just needs convincing, and it most definitely does not mean that she needs forcing. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. If anything, because the book was so hard to read, it made me think that everyone should read it. Firsts speaks a lot about how we use sex to make ourselves, or others, feel better, but it’s really more of a bandaid. It doesn’t fix out problems. Mercy wasn’t just having sex, and she wasn’t just helping boys with their first time. She was looking for a part of herself that had been taken.
If I’m looking for flaws, I could undoubtedly find a few, but that’s not what it was about, for me. It was about what I walked away feeling. I was driven to read this book, just as I’m driven to recommend it. I may have been hoping for something fun… but this was better. This was more. One of the best debuts I’ve read in a long time. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!