Happy Friday everyone! I got Sophia Rose on the blog tonight, mostly because I completely forgot to post this lovely review of hers earlier. I read and enjoyed this book myself. Enjoy her review, happy weekend!!First & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Buy on Amazon
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.
I had heard First & Then described pithily as Pride & Prejudice Meets Friday Night Lights, but, as cool as that sounds, I think it was selling the book a little short. For one, Devon Tennyson, the heroine, is no Elizabeth Bennet even if she thinks she has everyone around her pegged particularly the school’s football god, Ezra, into the role of the prideful Mr. Darcy. Devon does have a thing for Jane Austen novels and takes a ‘what would Jane do?’ approach to things just like there is football on every page. However, this story is not about either of those things. It tackles family, friendship, relationships, self, and transitioning to adulthood.
I found this one a delightful mix of typical YA light contemporary romance with some thoughtful and deeper elements to engage me with Devon and the other characters. The story is narrated in Devon’s first person point of view. It’s not a complex piece and it has no deep conflict or action plot, but it was a heartwarming gently-paced character plot.
Many of the issues I have with YA were not present in this book. For one, I loved how the adults are portrayed. They were natural as were the teens when there is interaction between the two.
There is some angst and inner conflict for the teens in the story, but it wasn’t exaggerated. And there were a lot of wonderful and original teen characters who had their flaws, but they were real and not cookie cutters of the usual cliched high school social strata. Now Devon attempted to shove the other kids into these Jell-O molds, but she spent most of the book learning people can surprise you.
There were a few strong secondary plot threads that added a bit of mystery to the story when it comes to a few of the characters have secrets that left me curious to know what they were holding back. One of the secondary threads was Devon’s relationship with her cousin, Foster, who has come to live with them. I loved seeing that side story develop. Foster was a great character.
There is a romance, but I would say the focus of the story is Devon finding her way. For much of the story, Dev has a crush on Cas her best friend who doesn’t see her that way and has a crush of his own going. This of course blinds her to the quiet guy with the poor social skills who does have an interest if she would just pay attention.
So, this was a cute, heartwarming low-angst story that was well worth the read. I definitely want to pick up the associated book, This Adventure Ends.