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 received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You know when you’re watching an impeding disaster, yet you do nothing to stop it – or perhaps it was just too late to stop it to begin with, so you stand there motionlessly staring at the explosion?
Well, that was what reading the book felt like… a complete and utter debacle unfurled before my very eyes – and yet I couldn’t step away.
First things first, the main character? She’s a bitch… there, I said it. I don’t think you would find a single soul in all the nine circles of hell that would like her. I mean yes, her mum wasn’t exactly the best role model, her dad was… well let’s just say he wasn’t and therein lay the problem, and yes maybe some things happened in her past that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone – but somehow a lot of other characters managed to get past similar flaws in their upbringing… and yet Mercedes Ayres (yes, like the car – go figure) just didn’t manage to do that.
However, she was an incredibly complex character, and I saw that – I sympathised with her regardless of her stupidity (I mean, who writes down the names of ALL the people they help with their sexual lives and expects no one to find it and read it…) and the way she treated a certain individual who deserved none of it, but luckily that situation ended much better than I expected, possibly because of the sweet and understanding nature of said individual. Needless to say, Mercy’s character got so much development I couldn’t be happier.
Friendship was a key theme of Firsts, and it definitely showed that real friends, even those whom you’ve pushed away, argued or even betrayed as it was in some cases – will always come back to you, and try to understand you, and work out your differences to become stronger than ever (just like a good ol’ married couple, eh?). I loved the introduction of Faye to the story, her and Zach showed that loyalty is probably the only quality you need in a friend, and that new friends (as it was in the case of Faye and Mercy) can be as loyal as your old chums.
Flynn also plowed straight through some other unsaid rules of YA Fiction, whilst others show teenagers begrudgingly taking out condoms during le sexy time, Mercy thankfully (just think about all the STIs she could have contacted sleeping with all those guys) refused to even go near a bed without one, which was greatly commendable, and probably the wisest thing she did for the beginning part of the book (her choices get smarter as the story progresses which was a lovely development too). Flynn also deals with incredibly heavy topics in ways that did not feel pretentious, and made them quite easy to read – although reading some scenes still felt like a punch to the gut.
Overall, Firsts was a great surprise, and I would definitely recommend reading it, but perhaps go in with the Log Lady’s attitude:
You will feel uncomfortable, Mercy will make you see red, but it is all worth it in the end if you stick with it.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
“Always lift your chin up high when you did something wrong. Because you might know you did something wrong, but nobody else has to”