Published October 13th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.
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. (Goodreads)
First of all let’s appreciate how absolutely gorgeous the cover is. It is definitely a contender for one of my Cover Crushes. Sadly, I have no idea how the cover or the title tie into the story. I read this in practically one day because I was in the mood for a good contemporary. It is promoted as a mix between Friday Night Lights and Pride and Prejudice, but honestly unless your an avid fan of either the references are easily lost. The authors includes lots of Pride and Prejudice references, but as one not familiar with Jane Austin’s work it didn’t resonate with me as it would avid fans. All I know about Friday Night Lights is it has to do with football. With that being said if you are huge fans of one or the other you may appreciate this story more than I did. This is Mills’ debut novel, she is an avid Austin fan and it shows.
Characters – Devon seems like your typical average teenager, but with the help of Mrs. Wentworth she aspires for more. Devon is in the process of writing essays for her college application and realizes she doesn’t have much to put down for extra curricular activities. She explores a few options and those lead to many of the other plot points in the story as you would imagine. Foster is Devon’s cousin who has come to live with her family and as the story progresses we learn why. foster is easily one of my favorite characters. He has such a big heart and he stays true to himself. Cas is Devon’s best friend and secret crush, but to be honest as a best friend he is hardly in the story as much as you would imagine. I didn’t like Cas as a character and I think part of the reason is he seems so stand offish to Devon so I am never sure how they are best friends. Ezra is the star high school football player that befriends Devon’s oddball cousin. All in all pretty typical high school characters.
Setting – a high school in Florida, some scenes at home, football field, hospital
Plot – As a contemporary the plot is rather fast paced, but also predictable
Conflict – finding what you are and who you want to be, family matters, love
Resolution – There was quite the build up of a romance, but we didn’t get much out of it. Even Devon’s appreciation of Foster didn’t really feel resolved.
I thought it was a cute story that can easily be read in one sitting. The story isn’t unique, but I enjoyed Foster as a unique character. Some of the family dynamics are pretty cool too. Overall I rated First & Then by Emma Mills 3 stars.