First Comes Loveby Katie Kacvinsky
Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl who is seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving, and besides, opposites attract. What starts as friendship turns into admiration, respect, and caring, until finally these two lone souls… See more details below
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Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl who is seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving, and besides, opposites attract. What starts as friendship turns into admiration, respect, and caring, until finally these two lone souls find that they are truly in love with each other. But staying in love is never as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they're going to have to work at it . . .
This ebook includes a sample chapter from AWAKEN.
"Gray and Dylan are compelling characters who will appeal to readers in search of a good love story set on the brink of the post-high-school world."--School Library Journal
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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- 14 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
Out of the corner of my eye, I’m watching a girl. She’s on the opposite side of the courtyard from me. The sun is pounding down on her bare shoulders. Her face is pressed up against a camera, and she’s squatting low to the ground. It looks like an old manual camera by the way she focuses the lens and turns a lever after every shot.
The courtyard between us is really just ample cement sidewalks converging in a circular cement center. Apparently, whoever designed the landscape of Mesa Community College, felt this cheap material would suffice for students who are here on a budget and don’t deserve a luxury landscape. Ivy League schools get Corinthian columns, cobblestone promenades, and brick halls surrounded by gardens so students can read Ernest Hemingway next to granite fountains and quote Robert Frost in terraces covered with climbing vines. Community college students get cement benches and a lone cafeteria specializing in greasy doughnuts and potato wedges. It puts us in our place from day one.
My eyes are drawn back to this strange girl. You can’t help but notice her—she’s always roaming around outside, like she’s part coyote. Sometimes she sits against a tree and writes in a notebook no bigger than the palm of her hand. Sometimes she draws on a sketchpad. Sometimes she whistles. She’s always by herself. She wears the same beat-up black Adidas tennis shoes every day. I think I used to own the same pair, when I was twelve.
She wears baggy jeans, an interesting style choice since the average summer temperature in Phoenix is a hundred and ten degrees. The jeans practically slide off her bony hips, and the bottoms flap like bird’s wings in the dusty wind gusts. Today her tank top is the color of the sun, a citrus yellow, and it’s too small, hugging her long, slender waist. She has the curves of a beanpole. Once she caught me watching her and grinned, but I immediately looked away. I don’t want to acknowledge her. I’m not looking to make friends. I just want a diversion, an object to rest my eyes on so I can zone out and wait for time to pass.
I lean against a wall of the science building, which offers a sliver of shade, and pull my baseball cap low over my forehead to block out the bright light reflecting off the pavement. I always wear a hat to class. I feel like I can hide behind it, like I have the power to shun the world simply by lowering its rim. I pretend people can’t see me and I can stare at whoever I want, mostly girls, in their skirts that fall barely below their hips, in high heels that show off their tan legs, and skintight tank tops that leave little to the imagination, which is fine with me.
I pick up my iPod and scroll through the albums until I find rap. I think music is seasonal. In the summer my taste changes. More hip hop, upbeat, fast-paced. In the winter it slows down. More acoustic and oldies. I drum my fingers against the ground and delay going to class until the last possible second. There is nothing more painful than taking math and creative writing in the middle of the summer. It’s too much forced right and left brain activity to be asked of a person before noon. At least the misery comes in a concentrated dose of four weeks and not an entire semester.
My eyes wander back to this girl—now lying flat on her stomach in the middle of the sidewalk. I can feel myself glaring at her. What is she doing? Taking pictures of the stupid concrete? I watch her, baffled, and scan her lanky body. She isn’t skinny like models in magazines—emaciated skinny, people who look like stick figures with big hair and makeup. She looks hyper skinny, as if she can’t sit still long enough to eat a full meal. As if her secret diet is living life at a vivacious speed.
I check the time on my phone and look back at her with a frown. Of course she has to be monopolizing the one path between me and the English building. I could walk around her, but I’ve never seen someone photographing a sidewalk with such dedication, and I’m curious to know what’s luring her to put her face inches from the ground. I stand up and take cautious steps toward her like I’m approaching a wild animal that could thrash out unexpectedly. She’s sprawled out, her chest supported by her bony elbows, her hands holding the camera perfectly still. She must have heard me coming.
"Don’t walk any closer," she warns. I stop a few feet away, and the wind picks up sand around us. Wisps of dirty blond hair fall free from her braid and blow in her face. I frown at her for hogging a public walkway.
"You’re blocking the sidewalk," I say. My throat’s dry and my voice comes out raw and scratchy. She slowly turns her neck to face me and her eyes are intense on mine, serious in her mission.
"You’ll scare them away," she whispers, and motions with her eyes. I look down at the empty path. There isn’t a single movement in the distance. I stare back at her with concern. Maybe she’s schizophrenic. Maybe the desert heat has fried her brain (at least the logical side) and she’s hallucinating. I lift my foot to back up, but then I glance down and realize only a few inches away from this girl’s head are two pale green geckos. They’re facing each other as if they’re talking.
I keep still and watch her turn the camera lens with delicate precision. She presses a button and I hear a subtle click.
"Got it," she says. She stands up and brushes the sand off her jeans. She’s taller than I thought, only a few inches shorter than I am, and I’m six foot three.
"It’s hard to get those buggers to sit still," she says. She smiles and her light brown eyes meet mine. "Definitely camera-shy."
I study her. She must be from out of town. My guess is the Midwest or out east.
"You’re not from around here, are you?" I look at her skin, covered in freckles but paler than native Arizonians’, who acquire enough daily sun to give their melanin a year-round stain of tan.
"What makes you say that?" she asks, and squints up at me.
Because you’re acting nuts.
"You don’t see many locals sacrificing their bodies on hot cement to get a close-up shot of geckos," I tell her. "They’re everywhere."
She looks at the ground for more lizards. "They’re so friendly. They always play tag around my feet." She places a black cap over the camera lens. "I’m visiting for the summer," she says, in answer to my question. I raise my eyebrows. Normally I’d be gone at this point. Small talk isn’t my thing. But this girl is becoming more bizarre by the minute.
"You moved to Phoenix for the summer?" I ask, and she smiles at my shock. Most people flee the desert this time of year, unless you like feeling your skin bake or you enjoy spending your days inside a cool refrigerator commonly referred to as air conditioning.
"I’ve always wanted to see the desert," she says, and raises her chin. "What are you doing after class?" My mouth drops open at her assertiveness. Does she actually think I walked over to talk to her? Doesn’t she realize she was just blocking my way?
"Uhm," I stammer. My daily routine is the same: eat lunch, play video games, strum my guitar, lift weights, try to figure out my life. Stay out of my parents’ way. Work part-time at Video Hutch.
"Could you give me a ride home?" she asks.
I stall and pretend to check something on my phone while I think of an excuse.
"I rode the bus over from Scottsdale, and it took two hours to get here," she adds.
My mouth drops open with shock again. Who moves to Phoenix without a car? A weird jean-wearing, ride-mooching girl, that’s who.
"You live in Phoenix without a car?"
"No, I have one," she tells me. "I just prefer riding the bus. I can see more of the city that way. But today you can be my tour guide."
I frown at her for presuming I have nothing better to do this afternoon than drag her around town. I mean, it’s true, but it’s rude of her to assume it. Besides, any normal person wouldn’t be this forward with a stranger. And who actually enjoys riding a city bus? It’s like a ghetto on wheels.
"You don’t know me," I warn her. "My idea of fun could be scorpion breeding."
She searches my face for a long time and finally smiles. "I’ve seen you around. You don’t do much, just sit in the shade and tap your fingers on the ground and listen to music. Sometimes you play air guitar," she adds. "You look pretty bored most of the time, like you’re half asleep. But you seem harmless enough. And you’re cute."
I stare back at her. So she has noticed me noticing her. And according to her I come off as boring and harmless. I wonder if that’s how all women perceive me. Well, at least she threw cute in there.
"I can meet you here in an hour," I hear myself say. I wish I could catch the words and reel them back in my mouth to safely store away in my Shut the Hell Up You Idiot file. What am I going to do with her? But before I can take the offer back, she nods.
"Perfect. I’ll finish my courtyard collage." I look around at the dried grass, the cement benches, the scrawny trees and dusty ground. She’s going to spend an hour photographing this eyesore? I sigh and head toward the English building, already contemplating an escape plan.
I sit down on the dry, prickly grass and watch him curiously as he dives inside the English building like he’s running for cover.
My photography class has taught me two crucial lessons about life. First, become an avid people watcher. It’s amazing the truth people expose when they think nobody’s looking. Two, look for beauty where it isn’t obvious. Try to see life through a creative lens. I love this challenge. Anyone can see what’s right in front of them, but it’s subtle beauty, the kind that takes time to discover, that you have to uncover and dust off, that catches my eye. I find things with cracks and flaws and textures so much more interesting than something polished and perfect and pristine. It’s the same way with people.
I’ve taken my professor’s advice and every day after class I people watch for one hour and collect observations. A camera’s a lot like a journal: it can store feelings and emotions and stories if you take the time to record them. That’s when I noticed this guy. It’s easy to overlook him; his back is always molded to the side of the building like he’s part statue. I almost doubted he was alive until one day when our eyes accidentally crossed paths. Even from across the courtyard, I could see they were a striking blue, the color of a late-afternoon sky (up close they’re even more impressive—they can hold you hostage). But there’s an edge to them that was more startling than the color. Instead of seeing, they were repelling. Deflecting. I tried smiling at him, but he didn’t grin back at me. He didn’t even nod—he just turned away like I had rudely stumbled into his line of vision.
He tries to blend in, which only makes him stand out to me. In the last two weeks, I’ve made a couple of observations:
1. He never smiles. Ever. I’ve seen him nod to people who pass him on the sidewalk. He talks on his phone sometimes, and texts. He doesn’t frown either. He’s just emotionless. Numb. As if something’s missing. Why doesn’t this kid smile? Do his mouth muscles not work? Does he have braces? A gaping overbite? It’s become my mission to make him smile—it’s like trying to chip through a layer of ice to see if something’s moving and flowing and alive underneath.
2. He avoids people. This suggests a few theories—he’s aloof, he’s antisocial, or he has a contagious skin rash that he’s afraid to spread. Or, the mostly likely scenario, he chooses to be alone. I think there’s a reason he prefers solitude over people, and I’m determined to figure out why. For me, life is one long expedition in search of the answers to why.
3. He’s cute, but not in a typical way. He’s not one of the pretty boys that litter Phoenix like glittery ornaments. No tattoos, no spiky hair or muscle tank tops or shirts unbuttoned halfway down to expose bronzed skin and sun-streaked chest hair. This guy mostly wears gym shorts and baseball T-shirts and flip-flops. That’s one thing we have in common. He’s not trying to impress anyone. He may not be Mr. Approachable, but at least he’s real.
4. Music is his thing. It’s always on. He zones out to it. And he always wears a hat. It’s like he hides behind it, as if he’s trying to escape or shut out the world.
I unzip my backpack and pull out my inspiration log (a hand-size journal I carry everywhere). I flip through the pages until I find my list of oughtas—weekly goals I assign to myself. In the year I’ve been making them, I’ve seen every single one through. This week’s goal is Make a Friend. I squint out at the bright concrete and watch two girls walk through the courtyard, their high-heeled shoes clicking noisily on the sandy pavement. They glance in my direction and take in my jeans and my tennis shoes and I can almost hear the fashion police sirens wailing in the distance.
Make a Friend. This challenge is no easy feat, but I’ve been holding my own secret audition—listening to people’s conversations and studying their mannerisms and waiting for someone intriguing to come along.
I look back at the English building and smile, because now I’m convinced.
This guy is perfect.
On the surface he might be callused, but looking through a creative lens, I see layers and textures. He reminds me of a folding chair, closed in and waiting to be shoved in a storage closet. I’m determined to see him unfold.
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Meet the Author
Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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I decided to re-read this book (and the sequel) prior to reading an ARC of the third and final book not because I couldn't remember all the details, because these characters are truly unforgettable, but because I wanted to relive Gray and Dylan's story from start to finish. I didn't intend to devour three books in a day and a half, but I got caught up in everything about the books and I couldn't walk away until I had the full story. But, more on the second and third book later. "Live a little," she tells me. "You're never going to experience anything if you wait around for perfect conditions." I love characters. That, more than the writing or the story, is what makes me love books. I often connect with characters and, if I don't, I have a difficult time enjoying the book. Dylan and Gray were amazingly easy to love. At the time I first read the book nearly two years ago, it was my first time coming across characters quite like these two. They were both so unique. Dylan probably more than Gray, butI've always loved Gray because he doesn't fit in any of the stereotypes. He wears his heart on his sleeve and when he loves someone, he's all in. To this day, literally hundreds of books later, these two still stand out and, if I'm being completely honest, I've not yet encountered a pair like them. "This guy is perfect. On the surface he might be callused, but looking through a creative lens, I see layers and textures. He reminds me of a folding chair, closed up and waiting to be shoved in a storage closet. I'm determined to see him unfold." "If you never leave where you come from, I don't think you'll ever figure out who you are," she says. "Because how much is forced on you? How much of your personality is imposed instead of created? That's why I left. I think people need to leave in order to find their potential." Dylan is a complicated character, but I absolutely adored her. She was quirky and honest and thoughtful. She doesn't waste her time worrying about trivial things or what others may think of her. She loves deeply. She's a free spirit that isn't content to stay in one place too long. There's just so much life in her. She remains positive through almost everything, but she doesn't shy away from other emotions either. She's a photographer, so I immediately connected with her on that. I loved her words about photos and why she loved photography so much. The world is an interesting place through her eyes. I love her way of thinking and the questions she asks. I'd liked to think if we met, we would be friends in real life. That's not to say that, at times, I didn't find her frustrating. The things I loved about her the most – her spirit, independence and need to experience all life had to offer – were the ones that drove me the craziest as the summer drew to a close and it was time for her to leave. I know it's not fair, but I wanted her with Gray, where I thought she belonged. "I'm fine with being alone," he insists. "I like the company I keep. Most people need constant distractions, because if they slow down long enough to evaluate their lives, it makes them internally combust. Like if you folded them inside out, you'd find a huge monster inside. A train wreck." Gray was just about as far opposite of Dylan as you can get. He was moody and didn't like many people. He and his family had been through a really rough time and none of them had truly recovered. Gray didn't let people in. He didn't want to. A baseball player who gave up the sport after the tragedy his family went through, he was gorgeous and mysterious. As Dylan and Gray's friendship grew and she began to help him pull his walls down, I fell in love with him right along with her. It was impossible not to. "I stare at Dylan and feel a tug on my heart, like she's holding a string attached to it and is giving it a yank. She reminds me of someone I used to love. Someone so incredibly original, I was positive no one else like her existed in the world." "Whatever it is, it's real and it's terrifying and mystifying and even though my eyes are closed I can see showers of light. I wrap my arms around Dylan and melt against her and I swear to God I could kiss this girl forever." The two of them together were nothing short of magical. She didn't expect to fall in love over the summer. Gray's walls were built high and locked tight, but somehow this strange girl made it through. She helped him recover from a painful loss. He helped her to experience life. They were such a solid couple. I hated knowing they had an expiration date. It was almost painful to know the end was coming. They fell in love quickly, but it was so natural it was like breathing. "Because if you're lucky enough to have people in your life that make you happy, that inspire you, that move you, you need to devour each moment you have together because you never know how many of those moments you have left. These people are sacred." "What do you say when you're not enough to make someone stay? What do you do when you meet the love of your life and realize it's all about timing? How do you accept that no matter how perfect you are for each other, circumstances get in the way? How do you compete with that kind of fate?" First Comes Love is a small book that's big on emotion and feels. It was beautifully written. Katie Kacvinsky has a way with words. They made me laugh and cry. I can't even tell you how many passages I read multiple times because they were just so gorgeous I couldn't move past them. I highlighted roughly half the book. (Not exaggerating.) This book and these characters will always have a special place in my heart. I relate all too well to their story, which made it even more emotional at times. "You know you love someone when he makes all the ordinary moments feel extraordinary. When doing absolutely nothing feels like everything." If you're looking for an upper young adult or clean new adult book that packs an emotional punch, look no further. From first love, family issues, finding yourself, losing yourself, being yourself, following your dreams... this book tackles it all beautifully and with characters you won't soon forget.
This book was a surprisingly good read. The author manages to create this completely flight, inquisitive, different character that will give the reader that "Alice in Wonderland" feeling. Dylan is so unique, from how she thinks to how she behaves, much of what she does goes against the grain. Gray is far more resentful, gloomy, and awkward. However, both characters have their great points. Gray will make the reader like him instantly with his true love for Dylan and Dylan will make the reader feel whimsical. When the two meet, there is an obvious instant connection. Their relationship grows and develops further over the course of the novel, it is truly a fun read. The author does not focus only on the relationship between the two, but also on their unique personalities and development as characters. These are very dynamic character, the author highlights mainly Gray and Dylan and then puts obvious care into their lives during the novel. It's interesting to read about a relationship in a young adult/teen novel that feels so real. The characters could have been real people who were the readers' friends. The events leading up to their relationship lent themselves to the growth of the relationship and the potential for enduring love. Dylan says quite a few things in the novel that will strike the reader as odd at first, but make complete sense at the end of the novel. The events were fast-paced and fun, the ending was perfect, and the characters will draw the reader into the novel. This book is recommended to young adult/adult readers.
I LOVED this book. The character's were fantastic and you could really feel the emotion. I liked how the narration moved between the two main characters, so you get both of their perspectives.
Well written and poetic . Love the male perspective on this love story !
Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books. Gray is numb. With his family falling apart from tragedy and all his hopes and dreams crushed, he lives a monotonous life. So, what’s a guy to do when a quirky, optimistic girl blocks his path and cajoles him into personal tour guiding? He uneasily pushes through grief and explodes into a world full of feeling and learns how to really live. First Comes Love awakened the butterflies in my heart, mind, and soul. Not one person who reads this story can say they are untouched by Katie Kacvinsky's ability to put life into her creation. Readers will fall hard and fall fast for Dylan and Gray while rooting for their love to reach its full potential. “You leave a longer impression when you’re brave enough to stand out.” ~Dylan Katie Kacvinsky unleashes a carefree girl whose outlook on life is infectious. Dylan is not just a female lead to be admired, but someone who can really brighten anyone’s day with each unique thought. Dylan is confident and a force to reckon with. “People try so hard to be accepted, they turn into a walking stereotype.” ~Gray Gray, with his enigmatic personality, is the king of snark. Despite his unreasonable attitude, his observations of life and Dylan are realistic. His attitude is what you’d expect from a rebellious teen who hates the world, but he gives off humorous vibes that will have you smiling days after you’ve finished reading the story. Gray and Dylan. Dylan and Gray. Theirs is a story you’ll never want to end, but when it does you’re left with a soaring heart and mile wide grin. *ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review; HC won from author*
If you are looking for that hopeless romantic feel good book this isn't the one for you. But if you want a book they will toy with your emotions than its yours.
Is this book like the 50 shades of grey books. I havent read thoes book but i have heard about them IF YOU DO RESPOND PLEASE LABEL IT •JOJO<3• THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!
Some days you just really need to read a good contemporary book about falling in love- and First Comes Love is exactly about that first love, and what falling in love feels like especially when two completely opposite people just seem to fall together. First Comes Love is an honest and raw story that doesn't sugarcoat anything yet it still left me feeling unsatisfied at the end. It felt like too much build up for such a small result, and one that didn't feel altogether real either. Reasons to Read: 1.This isn't a Hollywood love story: Dylan and Gray aren't perfect- they aren't model gorgeous, perfectly charming or constantly friendly and nice. They're real and they're flawed - and they both see the good and the bad in each other. It isn't exactly love at first sight either. It starts out slow, and they just gradually start to see each other in a different light. And by the time they realize they're in love with each other, life throws them another curveball and they realize that it isn't always guranteed to be easy. This isn't some glamorous love story, but it sounds like one that you or I or our friend could have experienced. 2.And these are REAL people: Like I mentioned above, Dylan and Gray both have their flaws as does everyone else in their life. These people are far from perfect, and even the reader can see it. I'm not even too sure I'd get along that great with Dylan and Gray, because our personalities just wouldn't mesh- but that doesn't mean I didn't want to read about them! Dylan, especially, is a tad eccentric that just amkes her fascinating to read about even if I don't always understand her reasoning or point of view. But my biggest disappointment with this book was how it progressed- I liked it at first, that it happened quickly but naturally but I had thought their problems (hinted at in the synopsis) would be more difficult and problematic for them- in fact, they turned out to be rather insignificant in relation to the rest of the story. And I wasn't particularly happy with how they dealt wiht it because it all felt entirely glazed over. I wasn't convinced that their decision would last and it seemed like Dylan made a complete turnaround from the character I was led to believe she was throughout the rest of the story. It just didn't seem true to herself. Ultimately, this just led th ebook to be a quick, somewhat interesting read but mostly unforgettable because there just wasn't anything that special about them or their love story. Review copy received from Thomas Allen & Son Ltd.
First Comes Love is told in dual perspectives and Katie Kacvinsky totally pulled it off. Both voices were distinct and I appreciated seeing both sides of the love story, what each was thinking and both perspectives on love, sex, and problems. I am a sucker for characters and in this character driven story, Ms. Kacvinsky nails them. When I say its a character driven story, that is not dismissing the plot. There is definite emotions, themes and actions that keep the story going. Dylan is a character to be admired. She has such a free spirit, and she doesn't care what others think. She is always looking for adventure, and she looks at people for what is below the surface. Gray is reclusive and dark, but we find out that there is a really good reason for it, and I love how Dylan peels back the layers, helps him heal, trust and to really live again. I really appreciate seeing their relationship bloom. This is not an insta-love book, and their friendship and falling for each other really makes this book special. I was pleased with the ending, though at one point, I really wasn't sure how she was going to pull it off. But things were tied up neatly, and even though I want more from Dylan and Gray, I liked the way that she left things. This is such a sweet story tinged with lots of emotion, stuff to laugh at, and a whole new way to look at life.