Title: First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Square Fish
Pub Date: October 4, 2016
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
“Close your eyes, real tight, and then count to three hundred. That’s all you have to do. You just count to three hundred, and when you open your eyes, five minutes will have passed. And even if it hurts or things are shitty or you don’t know what to do, you just made it through five whole minutes. And when it feels like you can’t go on, you just close your eyes and do it again. That’s all you need. Just five minutes at a time.”
I went into this book with absolutely zero expectations, mostly due to the fact that this was 100% a cover-buy. I mean, just look at this book. Isn’t it beautiful? I didn’t need to know what it was actually about… I just needed it on my bookshelf.
So yeah, I figured it was a contemporary novel, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The synopsis says it best: “Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.”
Add in some secret pining after best friends, unrequited love, brooding guys (i.e. a modern Mr. Darcy/star athlete), and lots of talk about football. First & Then also tackles (pun intended) a lot of serious issues like drug abuse, adoption, and teen pregnancy. The conversation never gets in-depth about these topics though.
I really liked the writing style and narration because I feel like my internal monologue sounds the same way. It was fast-paced, witty, and fun to read. I had a few issues with Devon’s girl-hating commentary in the beginning, but she eventually realizes and corrects her judgemental views later on. I guess it contributes to her growth as a character. That being said, I feel like Foster’s character was more significant and deserved more “screentime”. I would have loved to see a few chapters from his point of view.
I wasn’t particularly fond of Ezra or Cas, but I was rooting for a happy ending for everyone. And I kind of got one? I just wish there was a little bit more to it. It all seemed so anticlimactic.
All in all, this was a perfectly decent story. I’d recommend First & Then to anyone who is looking for a quick romance that won’t keep you up at night. It might also be worth checking out if you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice. I’m sure you’d get a kick (pun intended, again) out of the literary references in this.