“Virginity is supposed to be something a girl gives up only when she is ready and feels comfortable, something a girl discusses at length with her friends and flip-flops over a million times in her mind before actually doing it. A guy is expected to be born ready. But what I realized after Tommy is that they’re not. They’re just as scared as their girlfriends, maybe even more so because the onus is on them to be gentle, make it last, make it memorable. And most of them haven’t a clue.”
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publication: January 5th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
First thing first, this book is way out of my comfort zone. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be reading something like this, but, low and behold, look what just happened. If I had to describe Firsts with one word it would be strange. This book is strangely intriguing, strangely engaging despite my moral compass screaming error messages, and this book was strangely worth the effort. Firsts was something I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read or not, but now that I have, I can honestly tell you that it was so, so worth it.
As you can tell by the synopsis, Firsts is the story of Mercedes – a girl who trains virgin boyfriends so that their girlfriends can have the best experience ever when they get down to business. Wow, wow, wow…. hold it right there. So, basically, this book is about cheating, right? Sort of/maybe/yes. BUT, Firsts is so much more than just a superficial literature version of a new MTV drama.
Laurie Flynn is a fearless genius. Sex is something sort of taboo in Young Adult literature. There is a constant debate over what is too much detail, what line not to cross, and if it should even be present at all. And yet, here we have Firsts waving a flag over here in the corner while screaming “Screw ya’ll, Imma break all your damn conventions and force you to be uncomfortable.” Bravo. Flynn discusses the intricacies of intimacy – all the good and the bad – with an unflinching voice and an in-your-face honesty usually lacking from Young Adult books. Not only that, but the way the book discusses it as a whole makes it seem so brutally real. Sex is there, but yea, whatever – it’s no big deal. It happens, deal with it.
As for the strange aspect – besides the obvious – this is one book where I managed to completely despise the main character and yet still like the book as a whole. Usually, liking a book and a main character are synonymous for me – except for rare cases when the book is just so damn amazing that it doesn’t matter. Mercedes, goodness I want to strangle that girl. She basically goes against everything I believe in and she believes that she is actually doing some good with her deception. Like no! How dare you help guys cheat on their girlfriends and then pass it off as “the greater good”? Ugh. Hate, hate, hate it. But yet, I also strangely don’t give a damn. Mercedes is a train wreck, and yet, you can only lead the horse to water – you can’t make it drink. She and her do-gooding was a disaster waiting to happen, and in this book, we get to watch it all implode. Let’s take a quick check list about the not so good things, shall we? She only has sex with someone if they are both a virgin and not single, she keeps a journal where she writes about all the guys and rates them, she lies to A LOT of people, she is completely obvious to the clues screaming at her less than a foot from her face, she completely deludes herself into thinking she’s helping people when in reality she is committing one giant no no…. want me to keep going? Sucks, because I want. Want to know why? I don’t care. I liked the book, hated Mercedes and that’s that.
This is the kind of book that will push your boundaries and make you extremely uncomfortable, but you’ll keep reading it because it is just that good. Firsts will require you to keep an open heart and an open mind in order to understand the true beauty of what has been done here. Welcome this book version of Easy A onto your shelves for it has taken something taboo and untalked about and turned it into something normal and profound.
If you can’t tell by the title, I had the amazing chance to have Laurie Elizabeth Flynn come and do a guest post on my blog – so, without further ado, feast your eyes on the perfect first date for Mercedes.
Ah, the first date! I can’t think of anything else as simultaneously hopeful, exciting, and downright terrifying. At the beginning of Firsts, Mercedes had never been on a date before. If a guy would have dared to ask her, she would have flat-out said no—probably with an impressive degree of snark. But let’s say the world isn’t round after all and she did agree to let a boy take her on a date. Well, here’s how I think it would go…
5:00 pm: Mercedes starts getting ready. Looks through her closet, but doesn’t find anything she likes. She doesn’t put nearly as much thought into her clothes as she does her lingerie. Eventually, she settles on what she wore to school—jeans, Converse shoes, and a leather jacket. She brushes her hair and puts on lip gloss and smiles in the mirror, a big fake smile, because she really doesn’t want to go on this date and isn’t cool with how fast her heart is racing. She wishes she hadn’t told her date he could pick the place. Why did she do that? Mercedes hates not knowing what’s going to happen next, and this is the worst possible scenario.
5:15 pm: Date shows up at the door. Unfortunately, Mercedes doesn’t make it downstairs in time to slip out without her mother, Kim, giving her date the once-over (and probably a glimpse of cleavage). Kim likes to think she’s still in high school too. Mercedes doesn’t blush, but inside she dies a little of embarrassment.
5:30 pm: Date insisted on driving, but Mercedes hates being a passenger. Not to mention, date is driving way too slowly. Mercedes finds her Converse shoe pushing down on an invisible gas pedal. The faster they get to the restaurant, the faster this date is over with.
5:45 pm: So it’s not a restaurant—the date picked bowling. Bowling? Really? Strike one. Literally.
7:00 pm: Apparently, the thing to do after bowling is hit up the local burger joint for a greasy, cheese-covered patty on a fat white bun and an even greasier order of fries. Mercedes scans the menu for anything remotely healthy because Kim taught her carbs were the enemy before most kids knew what a carb even was. But she doesn’t want the date to think she’s a freak, so she orders the same burger combo he does and removes the bun. Her fries get cold and she lets the date pick them off her plate. Her stomach growls.
7:45 pm: After a seemingly interminable amount of awkward small talk, the date wants to order dessert. Mercedes wants to go home. She’s filled with this nervy energy and doesn’t know what to do with it.
8:00 pm: The date pays and they walk back to the date’s awful sedan. The second they’re ensconced in the car, Mercedes leans in and kisses him. His breath tastes like ketchup but she doesn’t care because this is her normal, not talking at all. He tries to pull away and say something but she stops him by climbing onto his lap. He’s not a bad kisser, but definitely not the best. But the moment is ruined when the horn accidentally goes off and the date makes up an excuse about needing to be home by curfew.
8:15 pm: Mercedes doesn’t ask her date if he wants to come in because a) apparently he has a curfew, and b) potential Kim-barrassment. Date offers a chaste peck on the cheek and tells her he’ll call her, which Mercedes knows is a lie, because he never even called her in the first place.
8:30 pm: Mercedes has her chemistry textbook out, even though she’s already done her homework for tomorrow. She wonders how people can be so confusing when everything in these pages makes so much sense. She wonders if she’s wired wrong. She wonders if there will ever be anybody right for her. She wonders a lot of things.
So there’s Mercedes’ fictional first date! Obviously it didn’t end the greatest. You’ll have to read Firsts to find out if she goes on an actual date, and if it’s any better!