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Reviewed by Bethany Kelly
When I first started reading Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, I questioned whether or not I was going to be able to get through the book or like the main character, Mercedes Ayres, by the end. Let me first tell you that I ended up liking Mercedes much more by the end of the novel than I did at the beginning.
Firsts focused on Mercedes and her service to ‘the virgins’–the boys that she sleeps with so that they can get their awkward first time out of the way in order to give their girlfriends a better first time. She helps them plan their girlfriends’ first times, and teaches them how to treat them and what to say during the encounter. She does this to give the girls something that she didn’t have–a romantic and good first time.
In addition to ‘the virgins,’ Mercedes is also sleeping with someone else – Zach – who has been wanting to be with her since they started hooking up. She also has a best friend – Angela – who is very religious and knows nothing of Mercedes’ secret sex life.
When Angela’s boyfriend, Charlie, finds out about Mercedes’ service and is rejected by her, he exposes Mercedes’ double life and ruins her reputation. She must then fight for her best friend and to salvage her reputation. By the end of the novel, the reader will finally get the story behind why Mercedes started trying to help ‘the virgins’ in the first place.
The novel starts out with a bang, introducing the reader to Mercedes who is in the middle of ‘doing a favor’ for Evan Brown’s girlfriend. Who is Evan? A virgin who Mercedes has agreed to teach the fine arts of making love. Not only did this scene draw me in to the novel off the bat, but it also got me curious as to the backstory of Mercedes’ service.
There was never an area in this book where I was bored or where the pace slowed down. There was always something going on that kept me drawn into Mercedes’ story. I kept getting clues on her past and little looks into Mercedes’ psyche, but never quite enough to completely understand why she would willingly sleep with other girls’ boyfriends. That is ultimately what kept me reading–the desire to know the whole story.
The characters in this story were also believable. I really felt like I knew who they were and what their priorities were. I could see myself going to this high school and being friends (or enemies) with Mercedes as the novel progressed. That is probably the aspect of the novel that I liked the most–the fact that Flynn created a world so well that I could imagine myself as a character. She not only did a fantastic job creating a character that was complex and had many facets, but she also made me sympathetic and understanding towards this character even though she made some pretty unforgivable choices.
However, on the flip side of all of this praise was one major plot point that really had me asking, “Really?” A new student entered the mix at the beginning of the novel that felt more like a literary device than an actual character. I felt that it was way too convenient and unrealistic in regards to ‘real-life’ scenarios.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book because it has a very enticing story line that kept me wanting to read more.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.
Review and giveaway copies were provided by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.