Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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."
Devon Tennyson lives a pretty average life in Florida. Her best friend, Cas, is a popular football player (who she has secretly crushed on for years) and she loves going to the football games, but always watching from a distance. Devon is also trying to get her life together and figure out where she wants to go to college. Things chance for Devon's family as she goes from being an only child to having a pseudo-brother when her cousin, Foster, moves in. Foster has always been a bit quirky and never really fit in anywhere, so getting him acclimated to a new school and a new homelife at first is challenging for Devon. One day they realize that Foster has an innate talent for kicking footballs, which catches the eye of the football coach who needs a strong kicker. This also puts Devon in contact with Ezra, the football team's star running back, and reluctant partner is gym class. Emma Mills' debut, First & Then, is a brilliant combination of Friday Night Lights meets a protagonist that is similar to a Jane Austen character.
I loved the character of Devon in First & Then. She'd rather read Jane Austen than go to a high school party, but she isn't a social outcast. She has many good friends, especially Cas, who has been her best friend for a long time. She can always count on him to take her to school dances, hangout with him at parties, etc. Devon is sort of lacking in the good girlfriend department though, but as the story progresses, she starts to open up to the possibility of more girls in her life. She even branches out and works for the school paper, which I loved. Also, I especially loved Jordan, one of her other guy friends. He is one of the best characters. Ever.
Devon "meets" Ezra in gym class, but she has known about him for some time. Everyone knows of him at her high school; he's a football god. Ezra takes Foster under his wing, which means Devon comes in contact with Ezra quite often. At first, they do not hit it off, but as they get to know each other, feelings develop. I definitely loved the slow burn in this novel.
My only issue with First & Then was the abrupt ending. I wanted more and sort of felt Mills left us hanging. That's my only gripe.
First & Then is the perfect read for the fall. With its combination of references to Jane Austen and its Friday Night Lights vibe, there's something for everyone here.....One of my favorite books of the year!