Firsts is a difficult novel to review. While I went into this expecting something light (think along the lines of Easy A with Emma Stone), it actually presented some hard to swallow topics. The writing itself was god enough to keep me reading, and the story was ‘entertaining’ for lack of a better word.
The idea of the book seemed a little far-fetched when I first read the synopsis, but the more I read the more I could see how a young person may get themselves into this type of situation. I’m not saying that it’s a common occurrence in today’s youth (although what the hell do I know, really) but I feel that many teens, male and female develop warped views of sex and sexuality.
Now Mercedes, didn’t exactly go about things the right way. The issue I have with what she did, is not that she was having sex (or even the fact that she was doing it with other people’s boyfriends- although I highly frown upon that), I mean at least she was practicing safe sex…right? The problem in question is that she only thought she was doing it for herself, when really it was an escape, just like alcoholics use booze in attempt to gain control over an aspect of their life, Mercedes used sex. The truth is, she really had no control over it, and she was doing it for all the wrong reasons despite telling herself differently. Add to the fact that teen boys can’t keep their mouth shut after they get laid and you have a whole range of problems ahead.
In contrast to the heavy topic and the drama inevitably surrounding Mercedes once the shit hit the fan (because obviously it’s going to… no spoiler here), some really important themes around friendship and relationships are presented. Not just romantic relationships either, Mercedes and her mum’s tumultuous relationship plays an important part in many of Mercedes decisions, along with her lack of a father figure.
Overall, this is an eye opening book. In a way it teaches us to be responsible for our own happiness, and that seeking solace through other means rather than facing the real issue is the equivalent to putting a band aid on a severed limb.
My rating: 4/5