Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, contemporary, Romance
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
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 one of my favorite high school reads of 2015. I loved the premise of First & Then because I think that First & Then will mean many different things to different readers. For me it was all about finding yourself in high school. It is such an important time in your life, and such a scary time if you have no idea what you want to do next. There is so much pressure to have your whole life planned out when you are 16 years old, that I totally got the main character Devon. She is surrounded by people that have obvious talents, and passions and she didn’t think that hers was quite as obvious. She didn’t know what she wanted to do next. And I just wanted to hug her and tell her that was ok. But that was the beauty in her journey in First & Then.
First & Then is full of classic high school moments that took me down my own memory lane. I loved the feature of football in First & Then, and not only did I love the bright friday night lights of the games, but I liked that the football stars were so atypical to many young adult reads. Devon’s best friend is a football player, and Devon’s cousin is a freshman with a kicking talent, but I am mostly talking about the breath of fresh air that is Ezra. I can’t even adequately put into words how much I loved Ezra. I think what I loved most about him was how strange he was. He hardly ever spoke, and he certainly seemed like a grump most of the time, and yet, I could not get enough of him. You have to meet Ezra for yourself to understand his odd brand of magic.
And then we have Forest. Forest and Devon’s relationship was so heartwarmingly adorable. I heart the heck out him. There is something so special about him. He has this air of innocence with so many of the blunt things that he says, but on the other hand he has experienced so many very adult things in his life that have haunted him. For him to maintain some of his child like innocence was so intriguing to me. He was my favorite character, which is a hard feat to accomplish because I loved so many of the characters. This book just made me want to hug it. And I am speaking in the literal sense. I am so in love with First & Then, and even though it seems like a standalone book, I am ready to start a riot demanding a second story featuring Ezra (and Devon). I need more. If you are a fan of high school young adult books, this is a must read. Heck this is a must read for everyone.
P.S. Author Emma Mills also has a hilarious YouTube Channel, that I didn’t find until after I started reading First & Then. I highly recommend checking her out HERE
How does the stigma of a taboo topic or the possibility of a book becoming banned influence the writing process? by Emma Mills
Ideally, we write what we’re compelled to write; we tell the story that we feel we need to tell in the language we see fit. I can only speak for myself of course, but personally, the thought of being banned or the stigma of a taboo topic has never been at the forefront of my mind during the writing process. I guess it helps to keep in mind that historically, the banned and challenged book lists have included some stories that are still very successful, popular, and beloved!
And now for my pick of the top 10 books that would end up on a banned book list:
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