Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
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.
Based on the book cover, I had no idea what to expect other than the fact that it’s a young adult. So, high school, love, conflict. Check, check, check.
Firsts is so much more than that though. It gives us a glimpse of flawed people and their life choices, and the ups and downs of high school. The book doesn’t justify it; it gives it to us as it is. The book also shows the reality of the double standards in society. How slut-shaming is very much alive, and how it starts so early in people’s mindsets.
At face value, no one would have expected Mercedes “Mercy” Ayres to be promiscuous. She is a diligent student, quiet, and is a member of a prayer group with her best friend. She doesn’t even have a boyfriend. But to a select few, Mercedes sleeps with virgin boys who need the help they can get.
Let’s face it, in this society, if you meet a girl who sleeps with different boys–boys who have girlfriends–you automatically judge them. Shame them. But what if you find out that she sleeps with those boys to help them get through their first time with their girlfriends? Not only does she give them the do’s and don’ts of sex, she gives them tips on how to give their significant others’ a most memorable night.
That’s exactly who Mercedes is. A person like her would not be liked by most people, but Laurie Elizabeth Flynn managed to make Mercedes likable and relatable. Mercedes is smart and caring (in her own way; especially to Angela), but wounded. She craves the love of a mother and father, is burdened with a past no one wishes to have, and is more lost than she thinks she is.
This book tells us not to take everything at face value. We avoid people whose image screams “danger”, and flock to people who look perfect. Sometimes, we find sincerity, genuine friendship and love from those we least expect or least consider.
“Some people are better liars than others.”
In stories like this, side characters tend to get neglected and forgotten. I was so relieved to see that this book is not the case. We have Kim, Mercedes’ mother who changes boyfriends as frequent as her Botox and Yoga sessions; Angela, Mercedes’ conservative, virgin, Catholic best friend; Zach Sutton, Mercedes’ chemistry partner and “Wednesday friend” who might just be a little in love with her; Faye, the new pretty girl at school who’s more than meets the eye; and the various virgin boys. Flynn managed to give these characters the right amount of exposure.
My favorite character is Zach. He’s such a sweetheart! Definitely one of my favorite book boyfriends. He’s a funny guy, a generally a good person, plus he’s a looker. The thing that made love Zach though was that he’s a constant person in Mercy’s life, even when she doesn’t want him to be.
“You know you break my heart every Wednesday.”
I know some people won’t enjoy this, but this was one of the stories I didn’t expect to love and didn’t expect to learn anything from. One of my most unforgettable YA reads.
Purchase your copy of Firsts