Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: First & Then

First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Published: October 13th, 2015
Hardcover, 272 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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'll be honest, I haven't read Pride and Prejudice yet (though it's on my list this year) but as a fan of the movie and Jane Austen in general, this book was the perfect mix of the classic novel and contemporary life. Devon is your normal high school girl. She's best friends with Cas, one of the football players, and watches all the games from the comfort of the bleachers while also harbouring a secret crush on him. But when Devon's cousin, Foster, moves in, suddenly everything changes. She knows he'll embarrass her but when the star running back, Ezra, takes him under his wing, things change. Ezra has a superiority complex and every girl in school wants to be with him, but the way he treats Foster makes Devon re-think her judgement on him and the more time they spend together, the more she thinks he's not so bad. 

Devon is such a realistic character. She's in her final year of high school and still has no idea what she wants to do in life. Sounds a lot like me to tell you the truth. As she's trying to figure it all out, enter Foster, someone she wants nothing to do with but is suddenly forced into acting like his sister. For an only child, I can imagine this is a shock to the system and it takes Devon a while to finally understand Foster and why he's there. When he starts to fit in with the football jocks, she can't believe it and thinks they are trying to mess with him and will eventually will make a fool out of him. When she realizes that they actually do like him and the more she gets to know him, the closer they become. I love a story that focuses on more than just romance. The love between siblings is just as important and Emma does a spectacular job of showing acceptance and the bond that forms between siblings. 

Ezra as Mr. Darcy made me swoon. He's standoffish at first and seems exactly how you'd think a star football would be. But the way he treats Foster is seriously the best thing ever. He's gentle in his teachings and confidently lets Foster know he'll make a good kicker. He's patient and supportive and anyone would be a fool not to fall for him. The dynamic between him and Devon is wonderful. I love a story where they start by not really getting along and growing to realize they are totally hot for each other. Ezra is the quiet, brooding type, someone who prefers to be on the sidelines of a party. He watches Devon deal with Cas being a jerk and is there for her when she needs it. 

I love that this takes place in a football town. The Friday Night Lights comparison is perfect and you really see how football is its own character. It's where Ezra came to life and where he taught Foster he could do whatever he wanted to do. It brought Devon and Foster together. It's as wonderful as the Jane-isms that Devon throws in here and there. I know I'll appreciate this more once I read P & P, which will just give me a good excuse to reread this wonderful book. It's short, and boy do I wish it were longer just so that it wouldn't have ended. The romance is wonderful (want more kissing) and the sibling relationship was so well done that it made me go hug my brother. This book is just a perfect little thing that everyone needs to read, Austen fan or not. A contemporary I won't soon forget.

"I should've been better. But sometimes all you can really stand to do is think about yourself. Sometimes it's the only way to cope."

"Just because you like hair and makeup doesn't mean you're stupid."

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