This was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2016, and it only seemed fitting that it would be the first book I read in the new year. When I first learned about this book, it sounded like a completely different story that hasn’t been done at least 47 times (which seems to happen a lot in YA), and since I hadn’t read anything like it, of course I was super excited to check this out. I actually had this one featured as a Waiting on Wednesday post a while back, too.
When reading the synopsis, you can tell right off the bat that it’s going to deal with some more “mature” themes that usually don’t make their way into young adult novels in quite the same light as they do in this book, but for me, that was kind of a breath of fresh air. I loved how the author didn’t hesitate to be real and include subject matter that is usually deemed “iffy” for YA novels (such as sex, and in this book, there was quite a bit of it!). So if that isn’t your thing, you might not find yourself enjoying Firsts all that much, but I personally loved that about it. Honestly, this book feels like it could have been in YA’s bad-ass rebel club…you know, the books that want to tell their story and don’t care what everyone else thinks about it (again, I love those books!).
Mercedes likes to help out when she can, either by tutoring in Chemistry, helping out her friend Angela, or even by helping the boys she goes to school with have their first time with her, and get the awkwardness out of the way, so that they can show their girlfriends a perfect first time. Well, things are always as easy as it seems, and sometimes things backfire and fail to go as planned. This book has some parts that are downright funny, parts that make you kind of sad, and other parts where I personally wanted to grab Mercedes by the the shoulders and smack her for the choices she makes.
Some of the characters in this book were absolutely wonderful…for example, Zach, who is the guy that Mercedes has her “Wednesday lunch dates” with. He wants to be her boyfriend so badly, yet she keeps pushing him away and won’t let herself develop actual feeling for him. He tries so hard to be with her, and you can tell that he genuinely cares about her. But Mercedes can’t be with him because she would have to tell him her secret – that she’s letting guys have their first times with her so that they can make their girlfriends’ first times perfect (because her’s was awful). I had some issues with Mercedes; I found her somewhat annoying and hard to connect with (and I hated that she seemed to constantly rip Zach’s heart out, over and over again), but she was definitely unique. Her friend Angela, who is quite religious, didn’t really stand out or have any qualities that made me like or dislike her, but the new girl, Faye, made the whole book for me. She was funny, smart, and she cared more about her friends than herself. She was probably my favorite character in the book, to be honest.
The story was interesting, and as far as being unique goes, it definitely fits that description.
Note: I won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.
♥ About the Author and Interview! ♥
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.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A. Thanks for having me on your blog! Hmmm, a bit about me… I’m a former model and I went to school for journalism. I live with my husband and one very spoiled Chihuahua in London, Ontario. I have been writing my whole life—I vividly remember the fourth grade, when I kept going up to my teacher’s desk for more paper to write my stories on—but I started writing seriously with the intention of being published about three and a half years ago.
Q. Where did you get the inspiration for the Firsts?
A. I was working on an entirely different New Adult contemporary manuscript when the idea for Firsts struck me. That’s how it felt—it hit me like some kind of lightning bolt. All I had was the name Mercedes and the hook—a girl who wants to give virgin guys the perfect first time. I didn’t know what happened beyond that. I just knew I had to write the rest to find out. As I wrote, I thought more and more about the double-standard that exists for teenage girls when it comes to sex, and how often labels get tossed around. I wanted to write something that rips into the unfair shaming that goes on and raises tough questions.
Q. Are any of the characters in the book based on real people you’ve known?
A. No, none of them are based on anyone I’ve known. They just kind of arrived in my head and it honestly felt like I had known them forever. As I was writing, I started thinking of them like friends (or in the case of some, enemies)!
Q. What was your favorite part of writing Firsts?
A. Since Firsts was the first (no pun intended!) book I didn’t plot at all, my favorite part of writing the story was not knowing what came next and knowing I could take the story anywhere I wanted to. Giving myself that freedom made me giddy and I’ve never felt so creative or excited about anything I’d written. But not knowing what came next was also the most frustrating part at times!
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A. Write what you want to write, not what you think an agent will want to read. Trends come and go, but if you’re passionate about your work, that’s timeless. Write what scares you and give yourself permission to explore ideas that are outside the box.
Also, be nice to yourself. This is something I have learned the hard way. If you fall short of a goal you’ve set or take longer to do something than you anticipated, don’t beat yourself up over it. What you’re doing is enough, and you’re awesome!