Review: "Firsts" by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

The somewhat controversial subject of this novel piqued my curiosity. NetGalley and the publisher were kind enough to oblige my request for an ARC, and I'm glad they did, as this turned out to be an interesting read.

Despite disagreeing wholeheartedly with Mercedes’ decisions and lack of remorse towards her bed partners' girlfriends, I was surprised to find that I actually felt quite sorry for her. I thought her naive and delusional about relationships and sex, due to her own traumatic experience with an older guy. Rather than come to terms with it and seek the help she needs, Mercedes decides to “help” other girls by ensuring that their first time is special, unlike her own. In Mercedes mind, by taking their boyfriends’ virginity and educating them on how to seduce their girlfriends, she’s doing these couples a kindness.

Mercedes’ mentality and decisions completely baffled me. How could she think that teenage boys would keep her secret “pay-it-forward scheme” to themselves, and that there wouldn't be any backlash from sleeping with other girls' boyfriends? Surely no one is that naive? But what surprised me most of all was that despite all this, I didn't dislike her. I wouldn’t say I liked her either, though. Her story was compelling, and I found myself questioning why society (spurred on by the media) is always so quick to label females who enjoy sex as “whores”, or place all blame on the infamous “other woman”.

Mercedes may have been delusional to think she was doing a good deed, but the guys were willing parties, cheating on their blissfully unaware girlfriends. Shouldn’t they have been branded “sluts” and had the word painted on their lockers, too? Did they really think their girlfriends wouldn't find out and consider this an act of betrayal? Or, perhaps they just didn’t care, as long as they were benefiting from the situation.

I found the novel interesting, so I awarded it 3 stars. This is a credit to the author’s writing, as she made me question the way women are treated in the media and by society as a whole, but it wasn’t gripping enough to score 4 stars. Also, I liked Faye and Zach; they were the only characters I actually liked in this book, so the third star is in part because of them.