Published: October 13th 2015 By: Henry Holt and Co. BYR
Genres: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Format: Hardcover Source: Won My Rating: 4 Stars
Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
First & Then is a great story involving friendship, family, and football. There’s some romance here as well, but it doesn’t eclipse everything else. I actually liked all of the characters, especially Foster and Ezra. Dev is a very likable girl, but sometimes it was annoying to be inside her head. Still, she loves all things Jane Austen, so that was a plus.
The thing I loved most here is the football. I’m more into college football (SEC), but I loved this all the same. What’s great is, aside from Dev’s and Ezra’s romance, and Dev’s love for Cas, I think that young guys would love this as well. There’s football. What testosterone riddled boy wouldn’t like this sport to be at the center of the plot? It’s different and that’s what I love about this story.
I loved the cousin-to-sibling relationship between Dev and Foster. It’s a good message for young readers who may be in a similar situation. Dev wanted to keep away from him at first, but at the same time she wanted to keep him close. She was afraid of someone bullying him because of his awkwardness. And then the whole thing with him kicking the football. I knew right then that Dev and Ezra were about to get a little close. It was also great that Ezra, THE most talked about person in town (he’s popular, but some want to kill him for stealing their thunder) befriended and mentored Foster.
Maybe I love this so much because I’m a huge football fan. And, yes, I was a big part of the Friday night lights in junior high and high school. Band geek here. Well, we weren’t actually geeks because EVERYBODY wanted in on our band. We were (and still are) more popular than the football team. Then, there are all the Jane Austen references here, and that makes the romance stand out. It’s all about unrequited love and finding that one person who can give you that happily ever after. I’m amazed at how the author actually brought romance and football together, especially in a high school setting. Other teen dealings here and there, but nothing took away from the football & love. If you are looking for a good YA contemporary this season, I recommend this book.