Contemporary Young Adult
Henry Holt & Co
Available October 13th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
First & Then is an utterly genuine and authentic snapshot of high school life, giving us just a few brief months with Devon before we find ourselves on the last page, but in that time we experience the highs and lows of teenage life free of the exaggeration so often overused to create drama. Instead of cocky, arrogant beautiful boys and petty, cruel popular girls, Ms. Mills gives us characters that are a gorgeously human jumble of both winning attributes and imperfections who smile and stumble their way through day to day life.
Devon is a gem of a young woman, a dry delivery accompanying a quick wit to ensure we have a smile on our faces more often than not, and we can’t help but be pulled into her story despite the fact that nothing momentous occurs over the course of the book. Our time with her is more slice of life than anything else, but the beautiful relationship between her and her cousin Foster as well as the slow-building romance with Ezra keeps us turning the pages as quickly as if she were facing one life and death situation after another.
While Devon is a standout character, her younger cousin Foster is a show-stealer, one of those lucky people who’s completely at home in his own skin and comfortable with who he is at age 14 in a way that would make many an adult green with envy. He’s blunt at times, quirky at others, and absolutely adorable all of the time, winning our hearts from the moment he steps on page.
For the romance lovers like myself, there’s a beautifully subtle relationship that forms between Devon and star football player Ezra, but instead of a popular-boy-falls-for-social-outcast-girl scenario we get a much more nuanced and realistic portrayal, one full of growing pains and quiet but personal revelations that result in the beginning of something lovely. Overall, First & Then is a story that feels free of noise, almost as though we’re reading with headphones on, everything that’s unnecessary canceled out to allow us to focus on the smaller details that make Devon, Foster, and Ezra so perfectly real.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.