To counteract Mercedes’ horrible experience, the seventeen year old helps the guys in her school with their first times. Getting the awkward faux pas over with with her, she only asks two things from them: their discretion and that they make their girlfriend’s first time memorable. All of it works out fine until her system starts falling apart and things start to get really complicated.
This book is certainly a unique take on a virgin story and it was actually a refreshing (albeit twisted) gender swap. In Firsts, it’s the girl who is confident (yet guarded), owning her own body and what she wants to do with it rather than the stereotypical YA depiction of a young girl’s “deflowering”. That being said, the whole setup as to why Mercedes does what she does is so self-serving, making her an intriguingly flawed character leaving everything a bit messy, to say the least.
Separate from the plenitude of guys, Mercedes is surrounded by some interesting friends, each very different from the other. I thought it was nice to show the variety of dynamics and complexities that can make up female friendships although what some of her friends consider acts of ultimate friendship may seem a bit misguided. Ridiculous scenarios aside, I really liked seeing Mercedes with her friends and how they’re there for her in their own different ways.
It does seem that the protagonist has a love/hate relationship with readers, given that what she’s doing is still cheating no matter how she positions it as “helping virgin boys with their girlfriends”. While some, including myself, took that as an interesting twist to an otherwise familiar YA narrative, I can also see how others may be turned off by Mercedes’ rationale.
As can probably be expected in a book about sex and virginity, Firsts does include language of that nature so it may not be appropriate for much younger YA readers. Pitched as being in the vein of the movie Easy A, those who liked that movie and like reading YA contemporary will also enjoy this book.