Welcome to my stop on the Firsts blog tour, hosted by St. Martin’s Griffin. Check out my thoughts on the book, read an excerpt, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway before you go.
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Young-Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
In the vein of Easy A, an honest and refreshing young adult novel about sex, love, and high school.
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, Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
To say that this book is not what I expected going in would be a complete understatement. I knew that it would involve teens and sex, which has become a subject that is not so taboo anymore in YA lit. I love the honesty of the story as a whole because, let’s face it, teens are having sex. It’s no secret, and I love the approach that the author took in this case. It’s original and even if I don’t wholeheartedly agree with the situation, I can appreciate the truthfulness.
Mercedes’ character wasn’t my favorite in the beginning. It has everything to do with my personal beliefs, which I will not impose upon you. Her MO is to instruct her virgin clients on how to give their girlfriends the perfect first time. These guys are cheating on their girlfriends with Mercedes. However, she doesn’t look at the situation from that angle. She only wants what’s best for the girls, because she didn’t have the option of having a great first time. This is when I started to question her reasons. Surely, it had to be something deeper than that? Turns out I was right. Not only does she have an absent mother, but something that is much deeper and troublesome. And that made me see her character in a different light. I really connected with, and understand, her character.
When everything starts to dismantle, I wasn’t sure what Mercedes would do. She is a very broken girl, if you can see past those walls she has up. Her mother is like one of those “cool” parents who don’t care what their kids get into. I have zero respect for her, even though she tried to spend time with Mercedes, somewhat. How Mercedes thought she could keep her secret hidden is beyond me. These are teenage boys we’re dealing with; so of course they can’t keep their mouths shut. I hated that the situation got out of hand, and soon the non-virgins started taking advantage of Mercedes’ services.
The friendships between these characters made this book for me. I like Angela well enough, but I didn’t get the BFF vibe between her and Mercy; no matter how many times Mercy referred to her as such. I love Zach’s character the most. He was a great friend to Mercy – even though they were only friends with benefits in Mercy’s eyes – and I knew by the end everything would fall into place. Faye’s character added the unknown and Mercedes started to question her sexuality, and in turn she started losing control over her life.
This will be a very hypercritical read for some of you. It’s not a book that can be judged by one aspect. You have to take into account the main character’s issues, and that is why I enjoyed this book . I think that young adults, especially, will love this. I have my reasons for not liking some of it’s content, but it is a very well written story with a positive message that’s hard to ignore. If you love YA books that make you question your own conviction, then this will definitely do the trick.
Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor. Melanie, or whatever her name is, owes me big time.
Except she’ll never know it.
“You’re not staying over,” I say, fastening the robe around my waist. “You’ll get there. Girls care less about that than you think. Especially in the beginning. You can work up to it together.”
He grins. He looks different, more handsome somehow. In the softer light, his pimples aren’t as evident and his jawline seems more pronounced. One day, I think Evan Brown could even be a heartbreaker.
But that day isn’t today.
I glance at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven p.m. on a Tues- day. “It’s a school night, Evan. Time for you to go. Your mother will wonder where you are.” Or I assume she would. Most mothers do. Not mine, of course.
His grin turns into a frown. “Do I, you know, owe you some- thing? I don’t know how this works . . .” His voice trails off.
“You don’t owe me anything. Just be good to her, okay? Re- member everything we talked about.”
I know he will. He even took notes. Open her car door for her. Bring her flowers, not something generic like roses but her actual favorite flowers. Have dinner reservations in advance, not necessarily somewhere fancy but somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first kiss or where you realized you loved her. Kiss her, not just on her lips but in unexpected places. On the nape of her neck. On her forehead. On her wrist. Push her hair behind her ears gently. Take a picture. She’ll want to remember the night.
I swallow against a lump that has risen up suddenly in my throat. It’s not that Evan is different—he’s a nice guy, a kid who loves his girlfriend and wants to please her. Maybe I’m the one who’s different. Maybe this speech is starting to feel too familiar. I told myself five favors for five deserving virgins. Five was the line I drew in the sand, and I trampled over it like it wasn’t even there. Evan is the tenth, and ten is a line I can’t just trample past.
But I’m certainly not going to get into this with Evan, so I put on a fake smile. I gesture around the room at the chaise lounge and walk-in closet and floor-to-ceiling shoe rack. “Besides, I really don’t need your money. Spend it on Melody.”
He pulls his boxers and pants back on. His movements are more measured, not the bumbling, terrified movements of the Evan Brown who entered my bedroom an hour ago. Even his voice seems deeper, like he came here a boy and is leaving as a man. I suppose that’s not far from the truth. I allow myself a little smile, a real one this time. It’s easy to reaffirm what I do. What happened to Evan in my bedroom will change him, make him into a more consider- ate lover, even a better boyfriend. Moments like these are what made that line in the sand so easy to obliterate.
Moments like these, I could see an eleventh, even though I promised myself that’s not going to happen. I’m starting the second half of senior year with all of my good karma already under my belt. “I don’t know where you came from, but you saved my life, Mercy. I mean, Mercedes. I don’t know what I would’ve done with- out you.”
“You would’ve ripped five condoms by accident, and you might’ve drowned the girl in saliva. But now, you’re going to nail it. Literally.”
He tugs his shirt over his head. “When Gus told me how you helped him, I didn’t believe it. But he was right—you’re an angel.” He pauses. “But can I ask you—”
I cut him off midsentence. “No, you can’t. Don’t spoil it.” “But you didn’t even let me finish,” he protests.
“Oh, I let you finish,” I say. “The one thing you can do for me is not ask me any questions.”
He nods. “Fair enough.” “Goodnight, Evan,” I say.
“Goodnight, Mercy. Uh, Mercedes.” He gets to my bedroom door and pauses with his hand on the doorknob.
“This won’t be awkward at school tomorrow, will it?” he says, looking back at me.
“Of course not,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “It’s not going to be awkward at all, because what happened in this room becomes just a figment of your imagination the second you walk out that door.”
He gives me a tight-lipped smile and pulls the door shut after him. I can see his shoes underneath, can tell he’s lingering there, wondering if he said too much or not enough, not entirely convinced that his secret is safe with me.
But he has nothing to worry about. His secret, like those of nine of his fellow seniors, is safe with me. At Milton High, I’m my own statistic. People fail to see the great equalizer, the one thing the band geeks, the drama nerds, the jocks, and the preppies all have in common.
The girl who took their virginity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn went to school for journalism and later worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris. She lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and her Chihuahua.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin, I’m able to giveaway a finished copy of Firsts to one lucky US/CA reader. You must be 13 yrs. or older to enter! Giveaway ends on 1/14. Goodluck!