Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5, 2016
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.
Mercedes Ayers has a reputation, but only a certain type of person knows about it: male virgins. After her awful first time, she makes sure that these boys know what they’re doing so that other girls won’t be as heartbroken or traumatized as she was. Since her mother barely knows she exists, having guys in and out of her bedroom has never been an issue. Then her best friend’s, who’s waiting until marriage, boyfriend shows up asking for her help. To make her life more complicated, there’s Zach, the boy who likes her for everything she thinks she’s not. Secrets can only stay secrets for so long, and Mercedes will have to find away to save what little respect she had left.
This book got my attention from the beginning. The blurb itself is enough to make you stop, reread it, then reread it again to make sure you read it right. I didn’t know what to expect, so I opened this book with slight trepidation. One of my favorite parts of this novel was that the author established Mercedes reputation without making things graphic. Instead of it being about her services, it focused on her as a person. Honestly, she was kind of a car wreck. She didn’t know what she wanted in life because so many of her decisions were forced on her at such a young age. To be someone who acted a lot older than her years, she still had a lot of growing up to do. At the beginning of the book, I didn’t like her character all that much. As the story progressed, I started to feel sorry for her; I rooted for her to get her slice of happiness. Mercy, as her best friend called her, had the book smarts, but she didn’t have the love and compassion to play out in her everyday actions.
Zach made all the difference in this story. He earned his spot in this story, like Faye, her new friend at the school. Mercy didn’t trust anyone, even Angela, and had to learn how to do that. While Zach and Mercy had an interesting relationship, to say the least, every girl would love to have a guy that fought for her as much as Zach fought for Mercy. He didn’t want her for the same reasons that other guys wanted her—he didn’t even want her for the same reason that she wanted him. If you don’t like Zach when you first meet him, give him a chance because he’ll grow on you.
I liked the inclusion of her best friend, Angela, the innocent one. Laurie Flynn did a masterful job of balancing both sides of the spectrum: the one who wants to wait, and the one who definitely hasn’t. The high school years are unforgettable and full of multiple types of people, where peer pressure runs rampant and being yourself might be looked down on. Bottom line, though: everyone makes mistakes. Whereas Mercy had to learn to trust, Angela had to learn how to forgive and let go.
The new girl, Faye, was the one who had made all of the mistakes and owned up to them. However, she knew she had made all of those mistakes and had already learned to forgive herself. If anyone wasn’t going to come through in the end, I would have added Faye on top of that list, then she’d prove me wrong. These characters kept on changing and developing, defining themselves page by page.
You’ll want Firsts on your shelves! This is a 2016 debut that you don’t want to miss!