Firsts: A Novel

Firsts: A Novel

4.5 16
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
     
 

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Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had

Overview

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy - so far. Her mother isn't home nearly enough to know about Mercedes' extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won't even say the word "sex" until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn't bank on Angela's boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn - or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes' perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/12/2015
Mercedes Ayres is in the business of taking boys’ virginity, “helping” them get through their first times having sex so that their girlfriends can enjoy the benefits. She keeps these encounters secret from everyone in her life, maintaining the appearance of a quiet chemistry whiz at school. What started off as something supposedly empowering quickly devolves into a destructive habit Mercedes can’t seem to break. As the list of boys Mercedes has slept with tops 10 and keeps going, her certainty in the value of what she’s doing is shaken, and word gets out at school that Mercedes is easy—something that takes quite a bit longer to happen than seems likely. Debut author Flynn raises worthwhile questions about teenage sexuality and perceived promiscuity, but while Mercedes’s many sexual encounters aren’t described in gratuitous detail, the story veers into sensationalism halfway in and never quite recovers. The novel eventually gets around to exploring the events that have shaped Mercedes’s attitude toward sex, but more often it seems to be reveling in the drama of it all. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“A fearless debut that dares you to question what you really know about that girl. Edgy, smart, and heartbreaking, Firsts will stay with you long after the last page.” —Amanda Maciel, author of Tease

“Emotionally charged... Firsts is a powerful coming of age story that tied my heartstrings in knots. Relevant and riveting... Fans of "Easy A" will root for Mercy.” —Caisey Quinn, bestselling author of Leaving Amarillo

“A brave debut. Readers will be drawn in by Mercedes and this original story that is near impossible to put down. Gutsy storytelling with both humor and heart.” —Lori Goldstein, author of Becoming Jinn

School Library Journal
11/01/2015
Gr 10 Up—Mercedes Ayres is a busy 17-year-old: she's already had sex with 15 people and counting. After losing her virginity at age 13, Mercedes thinks she can bury that bad experience by sleeping with virgins at her school to "help" them prepare for their first time with their girlfriends. When a video of her exploits is posted on the Internet, the predictable reaction follows: brandished a slut and a whore, Mercedes is ostracized at school. It takes willpower and help from a new friend for the teen to realize that, in her desire to assist her classmates, she has lost control and become out of touch with reality. This novel does not succeed on several levels: there are too many archetypal characters (the sassy best friend, the checked-out mother, the friend with benefits) and plot flaws. How is it that Mercedes is shocked when her secret gets out? Also, once the video is released, there is no intervention by any parents, teachers, or school officials, which does not seem realistic. In the end, Mercedes has some revelations about the importance of being true to herself, but it's hard to get past the novel's clichéd trappings. Frank sexual depictions make this title appropriate for mature teens. VERDICT Not recommended.—Melissa Kazan, Horace Mann School, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2015-10-06
A determined teen uses sex to regain control over her life. Mercedes is 17, hellbent on attending MIT, and secretly sleeping with boys to coach them on how to give their girlfriends the great first sexual experience they deserve. She adheres to a strict code, working with virgins only, insisting on absolute secrecy, and maintaining a pure image by attending the weekly prayer meetings led by her best friend, Angela. By doing this, Mercedes thinks she can control the delicacy of the service she's offering as smoothly as she handles complex chemistry experiments. But she's already violated her self-imposed boundary of working with just five deserving boys, then 10, then more. Eventually, Mercedes realizes that she's using these encounters—and a secret, sex-only relationship with her lab partner, Zach—to exercise control over aspects of her life that make her feel unsafe. These include her relationship with her irresponsible, image-obsessed mother and the memories of her sexual assault years ago. Meanwhile, her expectation of privacy is crumbling, Zach wants to be her boyfriend, and she's attracted to alluring new student Faye. When Mercedes' secrets are exposed, she must confront the truths of her painful past and her complicated present. The novel exposes some of the double standards inherent in our purity-obsessed culture but stops short of interrogating the value of the concept of virginity, giving the story an uneasy ambiguity. A promising if overlong and ambivalent debut. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250075963
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/05/2016
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
90,986
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author


LAURIE ELIZABETH FLYNN went to school for journalism and later worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris. She lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and her Chihuahua. Firsts is her first novel.

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Firsts: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
EllenRozek 20 days ago
I picked up FIRSTS for the super original concept and devoured it in a matter of days because of the execution. Mercedes's story begins as a slightly torrid high school scheme--helping boys lose their virginity so that they'll have the experience they need to give their girlfriends good first times--and becomes this personal, painful look at sexual expectations among teenagers. Mercedes is the kind of character it would be easy to hate, and I was incredibly frustrated by her a number of times. She's the kind of girl who holds everyone around her at bay because she's afraid that they'll leave her behind or decide that she's not worth their time, and she makes any number of bad decisions as a result. She's also disregarded by her mother, abandoned by her father, and clueless about the intricacies of normal relationships thanks to a terrible past relationship with an older boy, and that combination of experiences is what makes her relatable instead of annoying. It didn't hurt either that Mercedes had friends and a love interest--Angela, Faye, and Zach--who kept reaching out to her even when she pulled away. I thought Zach was a super sweet, caring yet realistic example of a high school boy, and I appreciated the ways in which Angela managed to dodge the worst of the "religious prude" stereotypes. But Faye was my favorite side character hands down, the kind of girl who has been hurt badly but isn't written as a victim, a girl who's boldly and unashamedly herself even when other people treat her like crap for it. YA needs more girls like Mercedes, girls who have a lot of sex for good or bad reasons, but it needs a hell of a lot more girls like Faye in starring roles. I would LOVE to read a book about her. The only warning I might apply to FIRSTS is that some of the scenes between Mercedes and various guys she encounters were pretty intense. I won't name names because of spoilers, but I was practically vibrating with the need to reach into the book and punch a certain guy or two in the last fifty pages. I appreciated that neither the story nor its author shied away from the topic of sex as a form of manipulation, but you might want to proceed with caution if you have firsthand experience with that particular issue. Otherwise, I'd totally recommend this to anyone looking for smart, poignant, character-driven contemporary YA.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I loved this book! It's like Easy A in the best way. Mercedes is a deep, multidimensional character I was sad to have to part with. I can't wait for Flynn's next book!
HSMeloche 10 months ago
The premise of FIRSTS may seem shocking to some readers at first ... until you dig down to why Mercedes, the main character, truly decides to take it upon herself to be the girl who "deflowers" male virgins for the sake of making the experience better for their girlfriends. Mercedes truly thinks she is performing an altruistic act with each guy, a compassionate act that gives them and, in turn, their girlfriends what she was denied at an age when most girls were only thinking of their first kiss. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn juxtaposes Mercedes nicely with best friend Angela, a highly religious girl who wants to save herself for marriage. Mercedes also has the loyal friendship and care of Zach, who she wants to keep at a distance but who continues to show up for her when she needs him. Whether or not you agree with Mercedes' mission to de-virginize, she becomes a character many girls will relate to as she slowly loses what she realizes she values most and has to re-evaluate who she is and what she wants to be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was such an intense and powerful story, it has taken me several days to rein in all of my thoughts about it. I'd been eagerly awaiting this book for the better part of a year, so I was very excited to finally have it in my hands! Needless to say, I had high expectations...and it did not disappoint! I found myself immediately drawn into the raw and deeply honest emotional world of this book, and that is what kept me turning page after page. Flynn has taken such an important topic and created a thoroughly engrossing story filled with flawed, human, yet loveable characters. FIRSTS bravely and masterfully handles the subject of sex-a topic that is pervasive, yet, as Flynn reveals, so misunderstood and often fraught with trauma. As we follow the main character, Mercedes on her journey, we see how sex can become a source of such pain and confusion, making it grounds for power struggles, double standards, and vicious shaming. Mercedes's attempt to hold tight to her secrets and protect her own inner world, keeping everyone in her life at bay, was portrayed with such heart-wrenching truthfulness, I found myself truly rooting for her to finally let her real friends see beyond the veil. It is a story that is at once is harrowing and heartbreaking, yet filled with so much hope, truth and essential messages about love, life, friendship, and self-worth. This is a timely and poignant book will be a catalyst for important conversations that need to be taking place right now.
Sonya Mukherjee More than 1 year ago
This book has such a fresh, intriguing, and unusual premise, I was very curious to see how it would be handled. The answer: splendidly, with honesty and nuance that made the characters and their story feel utterly real and compelling. Mercedes is a fascinating, complex heroine. She's smart and confident and incredibly generous... and yet, sometimes her judgment is pretty questionable, and sometimes she's really unsure of herself, and sometimes she gives herself reason to question her own motives. She's very far from perfect, yet I absolutely felt for her at every step. Her story takes us to some troubling places, as well as some really touching and wonderful ones as she builds some important relationships in her life and leaves others behind. Make no mistake: This is a fast-paced story that's hard to put down. But it's also one that will make you think, and feel, and maybe even tear up a little.
PagesofComfort More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was really excited to get a copy of this book because it sounded really interested and unique. I loved Mercedes as a main character. I thought she was so sympathetic, even if I didn't agree with her choices of letting guys into her bedroom. Even so, she was interesting to get to know. The more I read, the more I understood why she did what she did. I really hated her mom, Kim; she acted like she couldn't care less about Mercedes and even congratulated her when she had boys over. It made me sick. I felt so many emotions while reading this book. I was laughing sometimes, cringing at other times, and even tearing up. Zach is such a good guy, too! He sticks by Mercedes side throughout thick and thin. Obviously he wants more than to be just friends, but even though Mercedes doesn't, he doesn't give up. When all hell break loose, Zach, and their new friend Faye, are there to back her up and help her through it. Seriously, this was a good book. I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to see what else Flynn has in store for us. This book felt real and I had such a hard time putting it down! Pagesofcomfort.blogspot.com
Cody-Literary-lyObsessed More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt that Firsts is an extremely sort after book, that synopsis alone begs you to read it. I found myself so curious about Mercedes, YA books are often portrayed from the ‘cheated on’ rather than the ‘cheater’--- just to clarify, this book in no way simply evolves around cheating, it’s so much more than that, it’s merely meant from a reading perspective. Mercedes Ayres is a seventeen year old girl who takes it upon herself to ensure that every teenage girl has the perfect first time when it comes to sex, only her methods are a little unconventional… she sleeps with their boyfriend first. Regardless of the obvious kinks in Mercedes plan, she’s genuinely doing it in order for other girls to have a good experience and not just to sleep around; her fellow students deserve to have the perfect first, the one she never got. This book was a real eye-opener for me, not only do we experience things ‘on the other side of the fence’ as people say but it’s surprising how your initial opinion changes throughout reading. From the synopsis I was intrigued but also a little weary of reading a book about a character who seeks out virgin’s who are already in a relationship and not just with random girls but fellow classmates. However upon reading you not only see why Mercedes chooses her unique method of help but also understand and feel concerned for her. Mercedes was an interesting main character and while you don’t find out what exactly happened during her first time until later on in the book, her behaviour slowly reveals what she refuses to say. Mercedes was never having sex to just have sex; it was always about control, with a messy home life and basically living a lie at school, sex is the one thing she’s in control of. Now if this had been a book that concentrated solely on Mercedes then I would have rated it much higher, however what usually makes a book for me actually broke this one- the romance. Zach is the good guy, the one who is in love with Mercedes and would do anything for her. Now bare in mind that Zach and Mercedes have been sleeping together for a while and he would obviously be the guy to finally treat Mercedes right but of course she wants nothing to do with relationships. Usually I like these types of romances but her constant dismissal of Zach was not okay, I felt sorry for him more than anything and angry at Mercedes, so when the predictable and eventual realization of feelings occurred I just wasn't bothered. Overall Firsts was a great debut which provided a fresh and completely new reading experience, Flynn’s compelling writing demands that you throw out all of your preconception's and instead try something new; such as caring for a girl who would sleep with your boyfriend. There’s a first for everything, so if you're intrigued as I was then definitely give this book a try. Literary-ly Obsessed (Blog) | Twitter | Instagram
COBauer More than 1 year ago
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is an emotional & extremely compelling story of a teenage girl who has suffered a horrific sexual trauma and finds her way out of some of the deepest, darkest depths of depression and self-destruction. This is an incredibly hard story to tell and I applaud the author for taking such a no-nonsense approach to the subject matter. She told it with brutal honesty, humor, and grace. An excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this as part of an arc tour in return for a fair review. I was so excited to read this book. And I was not let down! I was hooked by the premise right away. Mercedes sets about sleeping with virgins, so that they can give their girlfriends the kind of "first time" she didn't have. But Mercedes didn't count on lab-partner with benefits Zach becoming maybe something more. Or a new girl showing up and showing Mercedes how maybe it's okay to not care what people think about her. But when her best friend's boyfriend decides that he wants to get in on the Mercedes plan, and when Mercedes realizes she's become lax with the rules she made to protect herself, things start to fall apart, quickly, and she'll have to figure out what to do if she wants to save herself from getting hurt. Again. I really loved Mercy as a character. She didn't apologize for what she did. Nor did she ever judge herself (really) even when she made mistakes. And mistakes are made, which is great. I love a character who maybe messes up, because that's where all the great conflict comes from. And Zach. Don't get me started on how much I loved Zach from the first time he showed up on the page. He's such a perfect love interest for Mercy. I smiled every time he was on the page. Recommended for fans of YA contemporary romance that doesn't shy away from the truths of teen sexuality and for people who like complicated characters that learn and grow and change
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
A bold and brave debut that will knock your socks off. FIRSTS is a smart YA contemporary that asks questions and spurns discussion. At one turn nuanced and another a punch in the gut, it's a book that isn't afraid to "go there" as it deftly explores issues of sex and all the double standards therein. A must-read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on a Saturday morning and finished it by Tuesday night. When I started reading, I could just tell that by the first few lines, this would be the case. I fell in love with Mercedes, and even more so when I learned of the painful events that she had faced. Her way of dealing with her issue is definitely very different! If you're on the fence, definitely purchase it. You won't regret it:)
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
When I began reading “Firsts” I was expecting a good, but fluffy, read. What I got was complex characters and social commentary. It was a pleasant surprise. Mercedes, the main character, is someone whose character traits would seem to make her irritating. The reality is that at no point did I find her that way at all. She seems like a real person with real issues that go far beyond the surface. This is a character who has had a hard life, and that manifests itself in the choices she makes. I could see the results of her actions coming like a train wreck, and I wanted to warn her and help her as though she were a real friend. Unfortunately, as with real people, sometimes the only way to learn the real problems are to hit rock bottom and examine yourself there. There were quite a few social issues brought up in “Firsts”. The dangers of technology being used to cyberbully is one of them, and it places no blame on the one who is being bullied. It also explores the ways parents can shape their kids by not being attentive and aware of their needs. Sometimes parents are neglectful without even realizing it, and that is the case here. Finally, the issue of rape and why victims are afraid to report it is examined. It’s brought up in a way that flows with the book and does not exploit the subject. I found this the heaviest hitting part of the entire book. “Firsts” is a quick, entertaining read that packs a heavy punch. I highly recommend it for older young adult readers and adults. However, please be aware that “Firsts” is very open (refreshingly so, in my opinion) about sex and all that comes with it. It isn’t meant for the young or those who do not like those sorts of things. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Ambur More than 1 year ago
As soon as I started reading FIRSTS, I was hooked! The story itself is incredibly intriguing, the writing is fabulous, and the characters all jump right off the page! I especially loved that it challenged stereotypes about sex, and about female sexuality. I absolutely LOVED Mercedes. I'm nothing like her, but I really appreciated the honesty of her narrative. She was snarky (which I loved!), and dishonest with her friends, but as a narrator, she held nothing back. While certain parts of her past were revealed later in the story, I really appreciated the transparency that her narrative had when she was considering things, and I loved seeing her slowly open up to the people in her life, too. I loved that Mercedes for the most part was in control when it came to sex. Her personal reasons for helping out virgins are something that you'll have to read the book to find out about yourself, but she definitely did everything that she did to help them. While her desire to help guys give their girlfriends a good first time was honourable in a way, it did bug me that she was sleeping with guys that had girlfriends. I loved that she was in control of her sexuality, but I did wish that she wasn't sleeping with guys in relationships. There were also a couple of minor moments where I really wish Mercedes had stuck up for herself and stuck to her original decisions, but overall, I was still really happy with this story. As I said before, I loved how FIRSTS challenged preconceived notions about sex that so many people have. I LOVED that it pushed boundaries, and I loved that even Mercedes' notions about relationships were challenged throughout the story. I loved seeing her friendships grow, and I especially loved when she finally allowed people to see the real her. She changed a lot throughout the story, and that was because she finally decided to start letting people in. Her friendships with Angela, Faye, and Zach were my absolute favourite part of FIRSTS. I did appreciate and love the romance too, but I loved that friendship had such a high importance in the story. FIRSTS was a wonderful story! The characters were fantastic and complex, and I absolutely loved the writing. I loved how Laurie Elizabeth Flynn challenged so many different preconceived notions about sex, and I'm really looking forward to whatever she writes next! :D * This review also appears on my blog, Goodreads, and other social media sites. * I received an egalley through Netgalley to give an honest review; all opinions are my own.
Kathy MacMillan More than 1 year ago
This book reminded me a bit of THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger – both books take a frank, unvarnished look at teenage sexuality, both feature likeable protagonists who struggle with real intimacy, and both are populated by winning characters that suck you right into the story. Mercedes is a flawed, relatable girl whose unconventional response to her own sexual trauma is to devote herself to making the first time better for other girls - by training their boyfriends in secret. Her own relationships spin wildly out of her control – with Zach, the one guy she really cares about but can’t bear to get close to; with Angela, the naïve best friend who has no idea about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities; with Faye, the new girl who challenges Mercedes’ ideas about herself; with her mother, who long ago stopped trying to be any kind of maternal figure. And Mercedes tries to exert control through her secret sexual life. Of course, in the age of social media and rampant slut shaming, her lessons can never stay secret, but when it all falls apart, Mercedes finally learns the most important lesson of all – that she has people in her life who love her, and that she is worthy of that love.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
4 stars Source: St. Martin's via netgalley Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy). I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free. I wanted to read Firsts because it was an interesting premise. I haven't read anything quite like it, but wanted to find out her motivation and see what kind of person she is. Mercedes from the synopsis has a best friend, and there is the possibility of seeing some major tension and chemistry. \ Mercedes/Mercy is pretty easy to like, even if I could never do what she does. She convinces herself that she really is helping these guys, that her feelings don't play into it, and she isn't doing anything wrong. But I know that from her thoughts, and from the way she dresses trying to get her mom's attention, and mentioning several guys coming over, that even if she convinces herself she doesn't care about her mom's opinion or doesn't need her affection, that a lot comes back to that. She sets numbers of guys who she takes their virginity and gives them tips and advice on how to make their girlfriend's first time a good experience. But every line and number she sets, she keeps getting asked to help and she finds herself agreeing. And she starts breaking her own rules, both with the guys she's helping and her chem partner Zach. When she is threatened and her secrets start to come out, she has to face a lot of hard choices, and she has to see who is really by her side. Her full story comes out little by little, and consequences catch up with her. The ending wrapped things up well and I enjoyed the character growth and the eventual romance. Bottom Line: Overall, worth a read, has a very different concept.
Madison-s_Library More than 1 year ago
What a book. It’s like a car crash, crossed with an erupting volcano, crossed with a (insert disaster of your choice here). I knew it would be messy and upsetting, but I couldn’t look away. And yet, Firsts manages to pull it off. I was really hoping for a beautiful ending that would make the agony of the rest of the book worth it. And I’m very happy to say I think I got that ending. I knew, going into this book, that it would be controversial and dramatic, but I wanted to see how the author would tackle such a sensitive area and what sort of messages were being sent. And by the end, the messages surrounding the themes of sexual harassment and abuse, judgement and bullying, and even understanding and valuing yourself were clearly and cleverly conveyed. Never preachy, this book might in fact be the opposite, drawing readers into a situation where they make judgements before being exposed to the whole story, which then changes everything they initially thought. It’s a very clever way to get readers thinking. As the story progresses, the reader slowly learns more about Mercedes, her past and why she is at where she’s at, including a Botox-using, boyfriend-jumping, phase-driven, absentee mother, a father who deserted Mercedes when she was eight, and her past with the boy who was her own first, Luke. And you think you know what she’s going through, but you don’t. This helped explain, a little, about Mercedes’ choices. I couldn’t say I liked Mercedes, but I could certainly sympathise and ultimately marvel at her resilience. And as a character she was perfect for highlighting the point about not judging those you don’t know or truly understand. At first Mercedes seemed so out of control of her life and continually made the same mistakes. Agonising. But I have to say I was impressed with how, in the end, she stood up, took responsibility for her mistakes and tried to make right what she could. The end of the book, say last third, was really compelling – some parts shocking, others completely heartbreaking – and just the perfect way to end this book. Controversial, edgy and doesn’t pull its punches, if you are looking for a book that will fascinate and provoke, then Firsts is the book for you. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Backyard More than 1 year ago
Firsts is really freaking accurate in all its sexified glory. Mercedes is the quintessential teenager, all angst and self-induced drama and willingness to go to extremes. It's a time I remember well since it wasn't all that long ago, and the author's ability to show the thought processes that Mercedes went through in each step was exceptionally well done. This is an author who knows not only how to write, but how to evoke strong emotions in the reader based on characters you may not necessarily like. Here's what I mean by that. Mercedes and Angela both are probably not people I would have been close with in high school. I had a lot of friends, I talked to people from every stereotypical high school group that we had. I got along with most everyone, but even then I wasn't able to find common ground with some people. The ones I had a hard time with were the ones who were completely closed off, like Mercedes. Mercedes, the girl who has only one friend and won't really talk to anyone else outside of that one friend. The girl who keeps to herself, rebuffs any attempts at conversation or friendship. This is works perfectly for her, because of her secret: She has sex with virgins so that they can give their girlfriends the amazing "first time" they deserve, and what she never got. What's awful about this is her reasoning isn't too crazy to follow. Something bad and traumatizing happened to her. She compartmentalizes it, and instead of working through her anguish, she deflects it and decides another way to help herself is to help others. In this way, she justifies her choice to sleep with guys who have girlfriends. She's not doing it out of spite, or out of some need to show the girls that she can take what they have. It isn't that at all. She just wants to make sure the bad thing that happened to her doesn't happen to them too. It's a lovely sentiment, if a little misguided. That's what makes this difficult for me to write about: I can't blame Mercedes for doing what she does because she believed she was doing a good thing. She didn't have a good influence she trusted to give insight and advice; someone to tell her it wasn't a good idea. On the other hand, I think it's pretty safe to say that having sex with someone that's already in a relationship is usually considered a no-no. Mercedes' life goes up in smoke when someone reveals her double-life to the rest of the school. She made some idiotic decisions that didn't help her case (like keeping a log book of all the boys that came in her bedroom), and when the crap hits the fan, it REALLY hits the fan. Suddenly, she has to deal with the fall out of her well-intentioned (but poorly planned) volunteer work. And that is where the story really shines. When Mercedes has to essentially pay reparations for the damage she's caused, she knows she's in trouble. She's public enemy number one, the cause for relationships falling apart, and the cause of her own life's implosion. And suddenly, she learns what she should have known all along--there were people she could rely on, people who wouldn't judge her for what happened to her and what she did after. People who love her and don't want to see her fall. It's a beautiful story, all the more so because it follows an imperfect protagonist who makes the wrong decisions. I am stunned that this (debut) author was able to create such a real, viable character dealing with self-inflicted but tough issues. I'm happy I chose to read this, and I wholeheartedl