Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a novel I had wanted to read since I first hear about it. The premise is very different from any other YA I’ve ever read and while I enjoyed reading the book (seriously, I read it in two days and could not put it down), I had a lot of issues with the book as a whole. As such, I’ve had a difficult time figuring out an appropriate star rating forFirsts. As far as enjoyment levels go, I did enjoy it, especially for it’s originality, but as far as morally, I feel awful giving this book a high rating. The struggle is real.
Firsts follows Mercedes, a girl who has an open door policy for virgins. She gives them the coaching they need during their first time so they’ll be able to give their girlfriends the first time that Mercedes herself never had. I’m sure you can see where my issues are stemming from. Outwardly, Mercedes is a likable character and for some reason she believes she’s doing a good thing. Her parents are very absent from her life and she even tries to flaunt some of her escapades in front of her mother in the hopes that “Kim” (as Mercy calls her), will start handing out parental advice or laying down ground rules. I personally believe that if you’re in a committed relationship with someone, you should not sleep with anyone else unless you both have some kind of mutual agreement that you established. I would also argue that Mercy is the lesser of two evils as she was not in a relationship with anyone else nor was she actively seeking out guys with girlfriends but it’s hard not to imagine that she put herself in her classmates shoes at any point. So overall, my biggest issue with this novel is the morality of it. I found it exceptionally interesting that Mercy hated grey area and was only drawn to subjects like math and science where there’s one correct answer instead of English where there’s grey area when she chooses to life her life mostly in grey area. I’m not saying Mercy doesn’t deserve another chance but I wish she would’ve put more thought into her actions. I also wish it would’ve been driven home more that Mercy sleeping with guys with girlfriends is wrong and instead of guys in general.
All of that aside, I was amazed that Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was still able to make me like Mercy. I did not at all agree with her choices but she is an intelligent girl (which is why it’s so hard to believe that she believed she was doing a good thing). Throughout the book I just hoped for Mercy to get her life in order and to stop allowing so many boys to take advantage of her. Despite her situation, Mercy is best friends with an avid churchgoer named Angela who has no idea what she’s been up to in the privacy of her own home so that was an interesting juxtaposition. Mercy also genuinely cares for Angela and tries to protect her innocence since she abandoned hers long ago. I felt terrible when I found out what happened to Mercy as a young teen but it still doesn’t justify her actions. I was very surprised that there wasn’t more involvement or consequences from Mercy’s school or from her parents after the inevitable fallout from her extracurricular activities. Mercy’s classmates resorted to slut shaming her which is unfortunate but I had been expecting that from the beginning. I don’t think that’s right under any circumstance but I can understand why some girls were so angry with her. I just wish they had gone about their reactions differently.
Final Thoughts: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is an original YA novels about a girl named Mercy who sleeps with virgins in an effort to allow them to give their girlfriends the perfect first time she never experienced. The book is well written and manages to make Mercy a likable character but it’s impossible to agree with what she’s doing. There seems to be a lot of morally grey area tied to issues that should be black and white. Even after writing my review, my feelings are still very mixed on this one.
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. (via Goodreads)