Blog Tour | Guest Post + My Thoughts: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

January 15, 2016 // Posted by Lisa in Blog Tours, Guest Posts, Reviews // 7 Comments

Blog Tour | Guest Post + My Thoughts: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble
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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.

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As you can tell from reading the synopsis alone, Mercedes obviously has a pretty convoluted look on sexuality at her age, and this was a difficult pill to swallow at times. It is strangely realistic though, as I had a friend with a similar type of outlook when I was in high school. No, it wasn’t the same situation by any means… but their sense of worth was pretty similar to Mercedes. Sad, I know. Because of this, Firsts rang especially true to me.

Firsts really surprised me, and in a very good way. When you read the synopsis, right off the bat you know pretty much what you’re going to get with this story. Mercedes has sex with virgins so that their “first time” with their girlfriends will be special. She teaches these guys the rights and wrongs of being intimate so that their girlfriends have the perfect first time that Mercedes never had. However, as you can imagine, that means this story also centers around cheating. If that’s not something you can look past, walk away now. If you’re willing to look past that to see what this story is really about, it’s definitely worth a read.

One of my favorite aspects of this story (and the strongest, in my opinion!) is the wonderful emphasis on friendship. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with this group of characters, but what teenage friendship is? With their ups and downs, they learn more about themselves while sticking by each other and being true friends. I adored Faye, the tell-it-like-it-is teen who befriends Mercedes, despite her snarkiness and unwillingness to meet new friends. Zach, Mercedes’ “friends with benefits”, was one of my favorite characters. He has the biggest crush on Mercedes and wants more, yet she’s adamant that she doesn’t want a relationship and is constantly keeping him at arms’ length. Zach is so adorable, it’s impossible not to root for him.
 
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There were so many strong elements emphasized in this story. Slut-shaming, parental abuse, double-standards, and the especially important message that all actions have consequences. This story was done so well, each issue addressed thoroughly and with sensitivity. Although I honestly don’t think this book is for everyone, as some people will be too put off by this character’s actions to thoroughly enjoy the story, I do believe it’s a story that will benefit many. A raw and very realistic look at sensitive topics, involving sexuality, self worth and respecting oneself above all else. This is a book that I wish was around when I was a teen and I think it’s a great addition to the YA genre.
 
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It was important to me when I wrote FIRSTS that Mercedes’ sexuality wasn’t clearly defined. When the new girl, Faye, blows into school and wants to befriend Mercedes, they become lab partners by chance—but the chemistry between them is very real. I wanted to explore that attraction and how Mercedes—a very logical, numbers-oriented person—processes her feelings for somebody who doesn’t fit into her plan, somebody who swaggers into her life and shakes everything out of place. Mercedes hasn’t been attracted to a girl before, but being close to Faye opens up some emotions that she has bottled for a long time. In Faye, Mercedes sees authentic confidence. She starts to see the person she could be if she learns to let go.

At the same time, Mercedes knows she enjoys sex with boys—one boy in particular. How can her heart be in so many places at once? She struggles to make sense of the cocktail of seemingly contradictory thoughts in her head and analyzes her feelings under her own mental microscope. Am I attracted to a girl? Or am I just jealous of her because she’s everything I wish I had the courage to be?

You can have feelings for more than one person at the same time. You can have feelings for guys and girls at the same time. You can explore and question those feelings. Too often, teens feel like they have to define their sexuality in terms that everyone else will understand, or in labels that will satisfy someone else. High school is a time of decision-making, like you’re supposed to map out the rest of your life as soon as puberty hits. Through Mercedes, I wanted to show that no matter how old you are or what stage of life you’re at—kid or teen or adult or senior— you don’t have to do that. You can do what makes sense for you.

I’ve thought a lot about who Mercedes is and how she identifies sexually. Is she straight, or bisexual? It’s a question I intentionally left open for interpretation. Because not everything needs a label.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Indigo | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

 

 

lets chat

Have you read Firsts? What did you think? Are you a fan of books with a raw, honest look at a sensitive topic, such as this one?

Lisa

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  • I loved Firsts, too, Lisa, and for the same reasons as you. I do enjoy raw stories that take on a difficult topic and make it seem less difficult with a sensible and well crafted story. I really detested Kim, though! I’m very happy I don’t know any mothers like her in real life, because I felt so bad for Mercedes who really needed an adult to just be there for her.
    Great review.

  • I’m glad you had better luck with this one. Overall, you know I had some issues but I really appreciated the themes that the author handled. And her writing is lovely! I’ll definitely read more from her.
    Great review, Lisa!

  • This story really does have an interesting concept behind it and I think from what I’ve read in reviews, the author handled the subject matter well.

    Thanks for the great review and guest post!

  • I can’t wait to read this one. I’ve heard several reviewers who had issues with this, but I’m dying to read it.

  • I’m really excited to pick this one up. I like all the themes covered and that it takes on some difficult topics. Glad you enjoyed it and great review!

  • I haven’t read this yet. Your review brings up some interesting points about the story. I think honesty is a wonderful thing in the YA genre. Great review Lisa!

  • This is getting quite positive feedback from many reviewers. I am glad that you enjoyed it as well, Lisa! I will have to check it myself 🙂