We all have first times. First time going to school, first time meeting new people, first kiss, first relationship…You might think that, when simply reading the title of this book, that this is the main subject of this story: first times. And, in one way, it is a story about first times…but it’s more one about growing out of the first times, and embracing what happens next.
A STORY THAT’S A BIT…DIFFERENT
” Mercedes Ayres is no longer a virgin, and neither are all the guys leaving her bedroom, one by one, after experimenting their first time. Mercedes isn’t a maneater, neither is she the school-whore. Outside of the bedroom, she’s just a normal seventeen-year-old teenager, going to prayer group and hoping to get out of this city, to MIT. Mercedes is just doing all those guys a favor. Words, gestures, moments, she helps them in every single aspects so that they’re ensured to give their girlfriend the perfect first time she didn’t have. Obviously, all of this is done in the secrecy of her bedroom, and nothing is supposed to get out. Until the whole system crumbles, as does Mercedes’ life. ” When first reading this synopsis, all I could think about was, WHAT. IS. HAPPENING. This whole system imagined by the main character in order for girls to get a perfect first time certainly seemed a bit…too much, for me. But I was intrigued. I really wanted to meet this character, and figure her out. And I’m so happy to say that, I’m really glad I did.
AMAZING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Mercedes Ayres isn‘t your average teenage girl, and it’s not only because of what she does in her bedroom. She seemed different to me, right from the start, because I couldn’t quite understand her and her motives. We’re directly immersed into a story, told from her point of view, so obviously we don’t get, at first, a glimpse into her past, and what made her who she is, or what makes her act this way. At first, I got a little bit annoyed by this, I have to admit. But getting to know someone doesn’t take a minute, it takes hours, days, years, to grasp a person completely and understand a little bit their actions. With some times, some pages, and a deep will to understand why Mercedes was like this, and why she was inviting so many guys into her bedroom, I finally got to know her. Understand her, a little bit. And eventually, get attached to her. The strong suit of this story really lies in the main character, I realized upon reading the last pages. From starting to end, we witness the downward spiral of Mercedes’ life and little secrets. Ups and downs, lacks of understanding, sure. Did she annoy me? Yes, okay, I admit it. But if you’re looking for a story with an amazing character development, this is it. From someone you barely know, and think you can’t like, to someone you know deeply and understand. In the end, I really felt for Mercedes and wanted everything to be okay for her. Sure, I got annoyed by her habits that wouldn’t quit, but it was true. Up until the end, we got a realistic painting of the whole character.
The relationships in this story may be the most tricky part. Well, it surely was, for me. At first, I couldn’t understand them, because I couldn’t understand what Mercedes was doing. With each of those guys she invited into her bedroom, it seemed to me only like one-night-stands, and this hold so little potential that it annoyed me. But this truly showed us Mercedes’ behaviour and brought us deeper into her actions and what made her who she was. I think what bothered me the most at first, was the relationship she had with Zach. Since I couldn’t understand the character, I didn’t get why she was this way with the adorable, sweet, likes-her-for-who-she-is Zach. However, I absolutely loved how the relationships evolved with time, making me care more and more about how they develop and turn out at the end. Mercedes’ friendship with Angela and its evolution regarding the fallout of Mercedes’ action, was probably one of the best thing in the whole book. It’s when I really started to care about the character, root for her, and scream at the book for things to be alright.
Dahlia Adler tweeted back in October about Firsts, saying “That is one of the boldest YA books I have ever read, and I kinda can’t believe it got published but I am so incredibly glad that it did.” . I can say I totally agree with this. This may not be a book for everyone, because there are some sex scenes, so if you’re not comfortable reading a little bit of that, then maybe you should pass. This book is one-of-a-kind, it’s really saying things about abuse and shows us how to overcome that.
If you’re looking for a story that’s different from anything you’ve read, with sex awareness and a great character development, then you should give Firsts a try. I’m certainly glad I did. This is such a bold debut, and Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is, if you’re asking me, an author to watch out for…I don’t know about you, but I surely will keep an eye on what’s coming next for her.
Final rating: 3 Drops
(find out more about my new rating system here)
Would you like to read Firsts? Why, or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, Firsts, Published by St Martin’s Griffin, January 5th 2016.
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.