Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts
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

What an absolutely brilliantly original idea - I mean did you read that blurb? Did you read that and ask yourself 'how can this character be written in a good light?'. I know I did when I first requested this book - how could Mercedes be written as a relatable, likeable character if she's sleeping with boys knowing that they have girlfriends - knowing who those girlfriends are, knowing that she's misleading her friends. Somehow, though, I liked Mercedes and I came to really care for her. I really began to care about her relationships and I really began to see her for who she really is beneath that fearless front that she puts on.

Seriously, I wasn't expecting so much depth in a book about a girl who has a lot of sex, but there was. It became something completely different to anything that I ever expected and yeah it was enjoyable and meaningful. I love the way Flynn attacks this plot and the stigma that comes with teen sexuality, addressing double standards in a way that actually gets the message across.

That being said, the whole thing was a little.... cringy. There were numerous points where I had to stop and think "Really? That's how this thing would go down?". I get The whole freedom of sexuality that Flynn is wanting to put across, but at the same time I had to look at how Mercedes was treating Zach and I just wanted to yell at her that she was ruining a completely good thing! There have been books which have put across similar messages but in a way that didn't feel as... wrong - look at The DUFF, which is very open about sex and having sex and doing the sex a lot but also did it in a way that made you feel like it was okay.

So yeah, I'm a little conflicted - one one hand I found the whole thing quite well put-together and I did like the characters much more than expected. On the other hand, the whole thing felt quite hypocritical and sleazy... so I'm going to go right down the middle on my rating here.

Overall Rating: C

Book released 5th January 2015 by St. MartinsGriffin
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

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