Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Version: Netgalley E-ARC
Rating: 4 stars
Published: January 5th 2016
Goodreads Synopsis: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 ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Firsts is different, and I'd say it is indeed one of the first (aha get it?) to bringing up sex in such an honest and frank way in YA. Because it's true, as much as our parents try to deny it, that sex happens. It certainly isn't sparkling rainbows and sunshine when it occurs the first time, despite what all those romance novels have led you to believe. Firsts opens you up to the true nature of sex.
Mercedes Ayres, underneath her quiet, Chemistry loving persona, believes she is doing something good by helping guys with girlfriends overcome their first time through instruction in the bedroom. They'll have sex, she'll give them pointers, and give the "proper" first time to their girlfriends. She planned to stop after 10 guys. But of course, not everything goes her way.
I liked Mercedes. She's a flawed, she's imperfect, she's human. She thinks she's doing the right thing by helping those guys because her first time was terrible (much more terrible than you believe!). She also has a mom who is there physically but not mentally, and a dad who is vice versa. And even though she hides her true self from others, she's at least somewhat honest to herself. Well, she's figuring herself out, and you can't blame her. It only makes her a more relatable and likable heroine. Plus, as a Chemistry major, I was very happy that Mercedes loves Chemistry as well. Flynn worked chemistry (the subject) and chemistry (the attraction) very cleverly together!
I also loved Faye. The friendships in this book were very strong and reminded me of my own friendships. The development of Faye and Mercedes's friendship in particular was complex, yet simple and beautiful. How Faye supported Mercedes to the very end, despite everything, makes her my favorite character in this book. She's been through so much, and supports her through thick and thin.
The friendship of Faye and Mercedes was based on similarity, while the friendship with Angela was founded on longevity and perseverance, even though the two were so different. Both friendships were both real and withstanding, and it was nice that the novel also focused on this (in addition to the sex). The friendships were a strong point of this novel.
There was more friendship than romance present in Firsts. I wish that some plots in the book were wrapped up more thoroughly (as it is a standalone). I wanted to hear more about Mercedes' parents, and I felt bad whenever Mercedes shot her down. Though at the same time, her mom's way of nurturing was all Mercedes ever knew.
Firsts is an eye-opener for sex, and I'd recommend it to those looking for brutally honest contemporaries. It certainly isn't black and white, and it paints a truthful depiction of friendship and the life before and after the bedroom.