First & Then – Emma Mills

First & Then‘ by Emma Mills was published in late 2015. It’s a modern, high school, YA/Teen romance. The hardcover version is seriously gorgeous (picture below!). [you can buy a copy here!]

The novel follows Devon as her life takes a number of unexpected turns as her high school graduation approaches. It delivers her cousin, Foster, a social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxious and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra; first they’re in her P.E. class, and then they’re in every other aspect of her life.

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This book has an incredibly realistic portrayal of high school and teenage life. All the little hierarchy and political things that come with it didn’t feel cliché, or overdone. It’s been a couple years since I was in high school, and that’s in Australia, but it still felt really familiar to me. I remember absolutely hating P.E., and getting changed in front of the other girls. It sucked, and Mills captured shit like that perfectly.

I thought Devon was an interesting character. She is by no means perfect, which makes her relatable. She grows a lot throughout the story, but it’s always nice to see a character realise their flaws at the time. There’s bit where she has a hateful thought towards another girl, but she berates herself because she knows she shouldn’t think like that, and that she doesn’t really mean it.

She also has this intense love of Jane Austen, which she talks about quite a bit during one scene. And Austen even acts as a bridge between her and Ezra. I thought this was really great, largely because it’s a nice and fairly realistic way of giving Devon some depth as a character, and even a nice hobby that I can relate to. She’s not a particularly social character, but she’s not painted as a loner. She just likes socialising at certain times, with certain people. Just like me.

Oh, and Ezra. I can’t help liking my love interests to be quiet and hard to understand. He’s basically a modern Mr Darcy. But I like that there are layers to him, and how through his interactions with Devon, and her cousin, Foster, he opens up and becomes a much warmer and more caring person. I love it when characters bring out the best in each other!

There was a theme in this that focused largely on families, and what it means to be a family. I won’t go into details too much, but this really got to me. I love my family and we’re really close, so I like seeing other characters find that for themselves. It really made me feel grateful for my family (love you guys!).

This was a really quick read. It was heart-felt and funny, and it made me cry (a few times). There were a few moments where the characters did or said things that made me shake my head; damn teenagers. But in the whole, I really enjoyed the story.

~*~

Favourite Character:

I really liked quite a few characters, but I’m going with Devon’s younger cousin, Foster. He’s very much his own person, and he’s been through some shit. But he stays positive and true to himself.

Favourite Moment:

I’m torn between two, so I’ll do both.

The first is a conversation between Devon and Lindsay about how they are actually friends. Devon compares their friendship to grilled cheese, which makes more sense in the context. It’s cute, and kinda funny.

The second, which is also cute and kinda funny, is when Ezra admits to having read “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” so that he and Devon would have something to talk about. How cute is that?

Favourite Quote:

(Devon referencing ‘Sense and Sensibility’)

“Mr. Willoughby, distraught at the news of Marianne’s sudden illness, show ups at their house intoxicated, begging to see her. It was tense and dramatic and somehow, although two hundred years previous, still totally relevant. It was the drunken text message to an ex two centuries before such a thing existed.”

Rating:

★★★★

~*~

I have another YA review which should be posted tomorrow! Keep an eye out for it, and in the meantime, let me know what you thought of this review in the comments. And if you’ve read “First & Then” tell me your thoughts as well!

– Gabi

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