Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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.
I’m not gonna lie, the beautiful cover of this book was what drew me to it in the first place… but I really ended up enjoying the story and the characters in this novel. It was a really heartwarming contemporary story, with some beautiful relationships between characters.
First & Then is a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There were some similarities and some elements taken from the classic but I thought the story and characters were different enough for me to not be reminded of Pride and Prejudice every three seconds. First & Then is very much just a coming-of-age story. We mostly just follow our main character, Devon, as she tries to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life and I wouldn’t say that there’s a lot of plot. I really liked Devon’s character development and how she learnt to accept and trust in others, support those around her in what they want in life, and figure out the person she wants to become. I thought her journey and self-development was very genuine and heartfelt, and it was a beautiful coming-of-age story overall. Having said that, I did feel slightly dissatisfied upon finishing the book because I didn’t feel that Devon’s future goals were really resolved. Even though she’s developed amazing relationships with those around her and learnt to become a more supportive and accepting person, her struggles with figuring out her aspirations and who she wants to be became kind of secondary to the family and romance themes.
I thought the characters were wonderful in First & Then, though it did take me a little while to warm up to Devon. She started off as a little bit bland and I found it hard to connect with her. She seemed to have zero aspirations and hobbies besides reading Jane Austen, and I really struggled to relate to her. Her days seemed to just be filled with aimless wandering around and doing nothing? It did start to get better when more of the side characters came into the picture and Devon’s days started to revolve around them and her relationships with them. My favourite character by far was Foster, Devon’s younger cousin who starts living with them after a family tragedy. He was just adorable and I loved his role in the book so much. He was a great friend to everyone and I really loved the way he supported Devon in the novel. He just had such a fantastic bond with every single character in the book and was just so lovable! I could read a whole book just about Foster to be honest. Devon who? I also really liked Ezra’s character though he did come across as a little bit of a typical broody YA love interest at times. But I loved the relationship that he had with Devon and how they brought out the honesty and respect in each other. While they started off a bit rocky, their relationship developed so realistically that it was hard not to be rooting for them.
A thousand electric cars could run on how you feel when you know that the person you like likes you back. It feels incredible. Like it shouldn’t be possible. Of all the happy coincidences to ever exist, it’s one of the happiest.
I really enjoyed the writing in First & Then as well. It had beautiful flow and the pacing of the book was just perfect for the story. It was a little bit slow-paced but progressed very evenly and smoothly. It was really easy to read and I finished it in two short sittings. The whole book was just really sweet and a joy to read.
If you’re looking for a contemporary with lots of heart and beautiful relationships, I highly recommend First & Then. There was a wonderful balance of family, romance and self-development, with a splash of Jane Austen and football!
Rating: 4 out of 5