Recommended in John Green's Book Giving Guide for the Holidays 2015
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 novel, a contemporary YA romance about lovefor the unexpected boy, for a new brother, and for yourself. First & Then comes from Emma Mills, the YouTube vlogger and co-creator of the popular "life skills" channel, "How to Adult" which currently has over 160,000 subscribers.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Emma Mills is a debut author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She is also co-creator and co-host of the "life skills" channel How to Adult.
Read an Excerpt
First & Then
By Emma Mills
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2015 Emma Mills
All rights reserved.
My college essay was titled "School Lunches, TS High, and Me," and it was every bit as terrible as you'd expect.
I stared at a poster on the wall behind Mrs. Wentworth's desk while she read. It was this National Geographic–looking photo of a pride of lions on a veldt. One was out front, looking particularly majestic. Golden sun dappled its mane, and whereas the background lions were looking here and there, this one's dark eyes gazed right at me. Underneath the picture, the word ACHIEVEMENT was printed in big serif letters.
Clearly, this was supposed to inspire something in me. I wasn't quite sure what. Run faster. Kill more gazelles. Be better than those riffraff lions hanging at the periphery.
Mrs. Wentworth cleared her throat eventually, and all she said was, "School lunches." It posed the question "why?" without formally asking it.
"The prompt said to write a page from the story of my life. You eat an awful lot of school lunches in your lifetime, don't you?"
"And this cafeteria food was somehow ... meaningful to you?"
"There were some deeply moving mashed potatoes — I'm not going to lie."
There was something strange happening around her lips, a weird sort of twitching motion. I think a frown and a smile were locked in mortal combat. "Devon, I really need you to take this seriously."
She meant take it seriously like go home and write an essay about a dead relative, or a sick bird I had nursed back to health when I was little, or a mission trip to build houses in Guadalajara. I just couldn't find it in my heart to do that. I'd never been to Mexico.
But then she surprised me. "Don't get me wrong," she said. "It's not the topic. It's the execution. You could've run with this. It could've been witty and inventive and really captivating. But it reads like you wrote it during a commercial break."
I took offense to that. I wrote it during at least four commercial breaks.
"How much thought did you really give this?"
It wasn't like I hadn't given any thought to it. I had even gone as far as composing an essay in my head, written in the style of Jane Austen. Jane was my favorite author, hands down, and I knew that my true life's story would be told in her style.
Jane didn't shy away from the truth about people. I felt like I knew her from reading her books, like I knew the kind of person she had been, and it was someone I liked a great deal. Someone who saw people for who they really were, someone who was capable of calling bullshit in the most elegant way imaginable. Jane would tell it like it was.
Unfortunately, how it was for me wouldn't make the best sort of college essay. Miss Devon Tennyson requests admission to your university, despite the fact that she is stunningly average.
I couldn't say any of this to Mrs. Wentworth. I didn't expect her to understand it, how I took comfort in seeing things through Jane's lens sometimes. She couldn't possibly comprehend the satisfaction I drew from imagining myself as Miss Devon Tennyson and unextraordinary, as opposed to regular Devon Tennyson and just plain boring.
When I didn't speak, Mrs. Wentworth set my essay aside. "Devon, this is crunch time. You've got a lot of work to do this semester if you want to get your applications competitive. Your GPA isn't bad, but your extracurriculars are definitely lacking. Are you at least aware of this?"
One brief tryst as girls' cross-country team manager. One failed run for Homecoming Court. One nonspeaking role in the drama department's annual desecration of Beauty and the Beast. I was definitely aware of it.
I would've pointed out that I had joined Mrs. Wentworth's own club — the Road-to-College Club — but it was hardly optional, and as of now, I was the only member. So I just nodded and tried to look solemn.
"You've still got time. It's only August, but before you know it, deadlines are going to start creeping up. You've expressed some interest in Reeding. Let's pursue it. But we need to explore all our options. If there are any other schools you've got in mind, let's visit them."
"Visit?" For a brief second, I imagined myself on the road with Mrs. Wentworth, arguing over complimentary shower caps in some cheesy motel room.
"You can't make informed decisions without knowing what you're getting into," said Mrs. Wentworth. "You wouldn't buy a dress without trying it on first, would you?"
I choked back Maybe if I bought it online and just shook my head. It wasn't the idea of college visits I was apprehensive about. It was the concept of Road-to-College Club in general. I think this will be good for you, my mom had said, holding up a flyer sent home in the mail and officially making Road-to-College Club akin to broccoli and sunscreen. Maybe it would be good for me. But that didn't mean I had to like it.
"Are there any particular majors you're interested in?"
"Not really." Saying advanced breakfast with a minor in cable television would surely bring about some epic battle that Mrs. Wentworth's smile was doomed to lose.
"Well, you've got some things to think about. This week I want you to look for extracurricular activities. Join a club. Start your own. It's not too late to get yourself out there and get involved."
Ugh. She sounded like a brochure. I suppressed an eye roll and opted for a noncommittal head bob.
It was quiet for a moment. I thought she was going to dismiss me, but when I looked up, Mrs. Wentworth was examining me through narrowed eyes.
Her first name was Isobel. She wasn't very old in the grand scheme of things, but by high school standards, she seemed it. She wore patterned sweaters and long, shapeless floral skirts. Still, Mrs. Wentworth's eyes were very beautiful. Her lashes were thick and dark, and the color of her eyes was just as vibrant, just as green as it must've been when she was my age. I liked to think that she was incredibly popular in those days. All the guys would follow her around and offer to drive her home and tell her that she looked like the girls in the magazines. And she would laugh and flip her dark curls and have no idea that there would be a time in her life when she would be Mrs. Wentworth, and care what some obnoxious girl wrote to get into Reeding University.
"Devon," she said, and somehow it felt like the voice speaking was a little more Isobel and a little less Mrs. Wentworth. "Do you want to go to college?"
No one had ever asked me that. College was the natural order of things. According to my parents, between birth and death, there had to be college.
"I don't know what else I would do," I said.
"Join the army," was her simple reply.
I made a face. "I hate being yelled at."
"The Peace Corps, then."
A choking noise erupted from my throat, something like a cat being strangled. "I hate being selfless."
"All right." The twitching around Mrs. Wentworth's lips started up again. "Get a job."
"Just start working? Just like that?"
"Lots of people do it. Some very successful people never went to college."
"Yeah. Look at Hollywood."
"There's one. Go to Hollywood. Become a star."
"But I can't act. I've never even talked in a play."
"So join drama club."
"Oh yeah, chorus member number twelve will be my ticket to stardom."
"First, you have to like doing that kind of stuff, which I don't, and second, you have to be good at it, which I'm not."
"So what are you good at?"
"I don't know. Nothing, really."
"Now, how can you say that?"
I couldn't express it right, not without Jane's help. Those turns of phrases she used that gave elegance to even the unpleasant things. She would say I was wanting in singularity. Staunchly average. Spectacularly ... insufficient, in situations like this. In the face of all-caps ACHIEVEMENT. Because what if you didn't have it in you? What if, deep down, you were just one of those background lions?
"Everyone's good at something," Mrs. Wentworth said after observing me for a moment. "You'll find your niche. And you know a good place to find it?"
"See, you're a good guesser. There's something already."
I smiled a little.
"I think you're a perfect candidate for college. Don't think I'm trying to dissuade you here. I just want to know why you want to continue your education."
"My parents," I said. She could've just asked that straight out of the blocks.
"To get away from them?"
"To keep them from murdering me."
A particularly fierce twitch seized her lips. "I want you to get involved," she said, sticking the essay back into my file. It was the only thing in there, save the crumpled postcard from Reeding University I showed her at our first meeting. "And give the personal statement another try. Heck, write the whole life's story while you're at it."
I made another face.
"All right, all right, I won't get ahead of myself. Have a good day, Devon."
"You, too," I said, and left the office.
* * *
I walked down to the football field after our session and thought about what Mrs. Wentworth had said. Mostly I thought about the essay — a page from the story of my life. I imagined writing about myself in the Peace Corps: a philanthropic Devon, traversing jungles and deserts, filled to the brim with the opportunity to self-sacrifice for the good of others. That's the kind of shit those college people wanted — some spectacular tale of unflinching originality, sandwiched between your grade point average and your ACT scores. How many volunteer hours have you performed, and tell us exactly when your stunning triumph over adversity occurred.
I felt like I had never done anything. I had never suffered. I had never triumphed. I was a middle-class kid from the burbs who had managed to be rather unspectacular for the last seventeen years. A triumph over mediocrity — that was what I needed.
"Did college club get out early?"
Wherever I was, Foster had a way of finding me.
Until this past summer, he had been the kind of cousin you see only every fourth Christmas or so. His family lived in California, we were in Florida, and that had been perfectly fine, a perfectly acceptable dose of Foster. But things had changed, and the new dosage of Foster in my life was pretty hard to tolerate at times.
He threw his bag to the ground and plunked down next to me on the bleachers.
"Did moron club get out early?" I said.
He looked at me for a moment. Then he said, "I see what you did there. I said 'college' for your club, and you said 'moron' for my club. Clever."
I looked out at the field, partially to avoid having to reply to that, and partially because practice was just starting and this was my favorite part. All the players would circle up on the field to do calisthenics. I liked the jumping jacks best, the way they'd chant each count aloud together. It was hard to see faces when everyone had their equipment on, but I could spot Cas Kincaid from anywhere. His jumping jacks were always half-assed.
Foster didn't like Cas, but I didn't like Foster. I probably should've felt bad for him, but Foster had this inability to do or say anything remotely human. Sometimes I thought the earth could rip open and swallow our house up whole and he would just stand there on the sidewalk changing tracks on his iPod.
"What'd you learn in college club?"
"Stop calling it college club."
Like "Road-to-College Club" was so much cooler.
"Stop calling it moron club," Foster countered.
Ironically enough, if any club was "college club," it was his. At freshman orientation, Foster signed up for the Future Science Revolutionaries of America Club. It was a biweekly meeting of those genius kids who like to build robots and memorize the digits of pi. Most of them could probably get into more colleges as freshmen than I could as a senior.
The chanting stopped as the guys moved on to a new exercise. Foster followed my gaze to the field and, more particularly, to Cas.
"Don't you feel dumb always following him around?"
I didn't answer, but I wasn't really listening.
"Don't you feel dumb hanging around and waiting for him?" he repeated as he bounced up and down a little in his seat, a rubber band perpetually wound too tight.
"Why would I feel dumb?"
"Because he doesn't hang around and wait for you. Don't you want a boyfriend who waits for you?"
"He's not my boyfriend. We're friends."
"So how come you close the door to your room whenever he comes over?"
"So you won't come in."
"You don't have sex in there?"
"No!" I looked over at Foster. I was fairly confident he was the scrawniest, most immature fourteen-year-old in all of Florida, quite possibly in the entire world. "No. No one's having sex anywhere."
"I'm sure there are people having sex right now. All the way around the world. I'm sure there are millions of people having sex right now. It's nighttime in Europe. People have more sex at night, don't they?"
"Stop talking about sex, Foster."
"Why? Does it make you uncomfortable? Does Cas make you uncomfortable? I could punch him, you know. I know how to punch."
"No punching. No talking. Let's just be quiet, okay? Let's play Zip Lip."
"Okay." Foster liked to think he was best at this game. I was old enough to know that my mom only invented it to keep me quiet when I was little. He should've been old enough to realize that, too.
"But wait. Is your dad picking us up? Because I'm not driving with Cas. He smells."
A pause. "I see what you did there."
I sighed. "Zip your lips, Foster."
"Do yours first."
I drew my fingers across my lips. Foster did his, and there was temporary peace.
The peace lasted through the drive home, even after I greeted my dad, effectively losing Zip Lip.
"How was school?" My mom asked that evening, with one hand resting on her hip and the other stirring a wooden spoon in a pot of pasta sauce. Foster was tucked away in front of the television, and my dad was in his office. The house was quiet, aside from the gentle bursting of bubbles in the sauce and the dull hum of Foster's TV.
"It was fine." I took to setting the table, because I knew she was going to ask me to do it anyway.
"How was Foster?"
I hated questions like that. What can you possibly say? It made him sound like a weather system. Foster was cloudy with an 80 percent chance of precipitation.
"He seemed fine," I said as I grabbed some napkins out of the cupboard. I still wasn't quite used to getting four instead of three.
"Do you ..." She was trying so hard to sound casual. "Do you think he's fitting in well?"
"It's only the third day."
"But do you think he's making friends?"
"I don't know." That was a lie. "I haven't seen much of him." That was a lie, too. I knew he couldn't have been making friends, or else he wouldn't be trying to hang around me so much.
"What about gym class?"
Physical education wasn't a freshman requirement until my sophomore year, so after having put it off for so long, I was dutifully bound to two semesters as the only senior in a class of hormone-ridden freshmen. A class that happened to include my cousin Foster. I hated sports and I wasn't too fond of freshmen, so gym class was a blight on my otherwise seamless senior schedule.
"We've only had one class," I said.
"And Mr. Sellers told us about dressing out and lectured about the sports schedule and that was it." Mom opened her mouth to speak, but I went on. "As far as I know, nobody's shoving him into lockers or calling him names or treating him any different than any other freshman."
This seemed to satisfy her, but I knew it could only be temporary, so I threw some silverware on the table and hurried up to my room before she could ask any more questions.
I got Cas on the phone that night before bed. It was one of my favorite things — curling up under the covers with the phone pressed to my ear, knowing I could drift off to sleep as soon as I hit End.
"A number four," I heard Cas's muffled voice say on the other end of the line, "with a Pepsi and no — hey, Dev, remind me to tell you about practice — and no pickles on the burger and extra ketchup."
Cas was nearly unable to devote his entire attention to a single conversation at any given time. But it was difficult to ever reproach him for it; he just thrived on constant engagement — interested in everything and everybody. When you really needed him as a friend, he'd rein it in.
"What happened at practice?"
"Coach reamed Marburry because" — to the drive-through window, "Thanks, man, could I get a couple napkins?" and back to me — "because he nearly killed himself trying to take Ezra down."
"Why would he do something like that?"
"Because he's a fucking idiot," Cas said thickly, because now he was eating and talking and driving all at one time. "No, but seriously, he's pissed he got moved to safety and Ezra's still starting running back." There was just the slightest hint of darkness to his voice, something that I heard only because I had known him so long. "And, you know, because of the Bowl."
Excerpted from First & Then by Emma Mills. Copyright © 2015 Emma Mills. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Only child Devon Tennyson has had her world changed. Her cousin Foster has come to live with she and her parents and now she has the little brother she never wanted. Her safe world has turned upside down and changes are on the horizon, her safe crush on her best friend Cas is pushed to the back burner by first, her cousin Foster, and second by all star quarterback Ezra. Being teamed with both of them in her P.E. class starts a chain of events that changes her world. I have read one other Emma Mills story, Foolish Hearts. Whereas that novel was different than this one, there was one similarity that I enjoyed seeing adapted again. Both of the female main characters were plodding along and their young worlds got shook up. In First & Then the catalyst is her cousin Foster. His childhood circumstances were heartbreaking and whereas Devon was empathetic, it took Ezra befriending Foster for her to see the big picture and open her heart to enfold Foster into her life. Devon’s love for Jane Austen is mentioned quite a few times in this novel and you can’t help but make Pride & Prejudice comparisons. Especially between Ezra and Darcy. Her view of Ezra as a snobby standoffish jock was similar to Elizabeth’s of Darcy. As with Pride and Prejudice, when Devon’s crush Cas is actually falling for another girl, it is Ezra who quietly steps in to make her feel good about herself. Albeit in a quiet, non communicative way. I really couldn’t wait until they got past all of the miscommunications and red herrings that were thrown into their path. A sign of a good story and the reader being invested in the relationships for sure! If you enjoy YA contemporary’s with a hint of romance this novel is the perfect fit for you. Devon is a great leading heroine, but beware, Foster steals the show in this one. He is adorkably cute.
I loved all these characters and the incredible detail Emma Mills includes. But by far my favorite part was watching not only the main character but all the characters grow and change. First and Then is relatable and will make you laugh out loud.
4.5/5 Although this isn't taking the title of my favorite Emma Mills book, I did still really like it. There were definitely a few things that I wasn't a fan of, such as Devon calling the some of the freshman girls in her gym class prostitots; while she was called out for judging people before she knew them once, I wish that was touched on a little bit more. Other than that, I was able to really enjoy the book, and am kind of sad I don't have any new Emma Mills books to read, because I want more.
2.5 stars I appreciate all the love that Devon had for Jane Austen and I liked it had a Pride and Prejudice feel to it BUT it came off as such a mediocre story to me. Devon was so judgy, never letting anyone get a word in, unappealing at times, and she got only slightly better towards the end. Ezra came off as a turn of the century Mr. Darcy which fit him. The two characters that I really liked was Foster and Jordan. I would have loved if it was just them. Then why did I read it all? Good question. It wasn’t bad and it was very easy to get through it all. I guess I just wanted to see how things went for Devon and Ezra. I did like how things ended so that was a plus. Overall, it just wasn’t my thing but it could be someone else's.
Review also found on Books N' Calm It was was an okay book. It’s the kind of book that read it if you want but it’s not one I’d recommend and shout about. I felt like there could be more to the book. The book starts out talking about Devon and her struggle with college apps but slowly it turns into more about her falling for a guy. It is a romance novel but I feel like the whole college app struggle could have been more prominent/there. It’s there for like the first five chapters but after that it’s not really brought up again. She does things to make her resume look better which are brought up. But the actual apps and college letters aren’t brought up. The book could have got in so much deeper and further in my opinion. Even with just the romance. Devon and the guy she falls for get together in like a page. There’s so much more that could have been there. And Devon didn’t really express her feelings which also could have so much more. First & Then is a casual kind of read. It’s light and good book to read to take a break from more serious/long books. Sports, or to say more specifically football, are a very big part of this book which I think may have had something to do with my lack of interest/high rating in this book. I’m not a big sports fan and I found those parts boring. There’s not much diversity in the book but it’s kind of expected for this particular book as it’s set in a small town. But at the same time I still believe that there would at least be one poc family. The book cover is really pretty though and it definitely caught my attention.
3 stars Posted on: Brandi Breathes Books Blog Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy) for free. 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 First and Then because I liked the premise of Devon, watching and crushing from the sidelines, and happy until life throws unexpected people into her life. From the start I liked her friendship with Cas. They go well together, and support each other. But the other characters like her cousin Foster, and even another girl are really some strange sorts. They seem young, or naive, or something. Maybe I am just not remembering the degrees of social awkwardness in this form. But they all served to show us something about Devon, and help her to learn things about herself through the interactions with them. She is a pretty ordinary character and I liked that. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do with her life and she was easy to relate to. She is smart though, and has a quick wit, and that def added some humor. She likes Jane Austen a lot, and she does this thing where she tries to imagine how she would write about the things Devon is going through in her life, and its a neat touch. As I got to know the characters though their idiosyncrasies made more sense. I learned much more about foster and how much he really cares about Devon and the rest of the family. He is considerate and thoughtful, he makes a lot of jokes which is what at first made me think he was immature. The romance was interesting and took awhile to develop. I was all for them especially after he began to open up and share more about himself. I liked her growth and that she realized that she wanted more for her life, that college was worth it, and even though she didn't have concrete answers, things were on a different track. The ending wrapped things up well, and it gave me closure and hope for the characters and what their future might look like. Bottom Line: Well written and paced with enjoyable characters.
Wonderful read.perfect for any Jane austen lover
Full review on Molly's Book Nook ( www.mollysbooknook.com ) Mills really knew her audience. While the plot is kind of predictable, it does throw a few curveballs your way to keep you engaged. The characters are all entertaining and have their own unique personalities. The love interest was a bit of a disappointment for me, but that is personal preference (refer to my statement about Jordan). There were many times that I laughed and a few heart-wrenching moments. Overall, this is an easy and cute novel to read when you’re just in one of those moods. I devoured this in just a couple of hours!
I got this book as Uppercase Box subscription pick of the month, and I just couldn't be happier with the selection. This book is described as Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights and honestly it is everything I hoped for and more. I've tried to read Pride and Prejudice but Old English is so hard for me to read that I had a hell of a time, but (and I am going to say this with a straight face) the movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is one of my favorites. So going in to this book I had high hopes for it. This story follows Devon, a young girl who is in love with Jane Austen, whose cousin, Foster, comes to live with them after his mother can't take care of him. I related so much to Devon. She was spunky and funny and in love with her best friend. I just connected to this character. I thought she was very interesting to read about. She wasn't always the nicest but I think that's such a great thing that she wasn't. I was horribly judgmental when I was in High School and looking back now if I could go back and change I would. But it's who I thought I should be and seeing parts of me in Devon was extremely insightful. The love she felt for Foster was also something I related to. He was family and although he was annoying at times, seeing the relationship and the bond that grew as the story went along was one of my favorite parts of this book. Now when I read books that have a ton of miscommunication or misunderstanding it drives me insane. I hate reading books like that because all it takes is for the characters to turn to each other and say what's on their minds. Emma though just handled it amazingly. Every miscommunication or misunderstanding added to the story. I mean I was clearly thinking come on all ready just kiss! I do have one negative and that's that Ezra and Devon don't get a whole lot of kissing time together and I just wish that they did. That being said I was still happy with the scene! One of the things I want to mention, that I really really didn't see coming but loved that it happened, was between a character Lindsey and Devon. I won't give to much away because I don't want to spoil it for you guys, but let me just say that I was waiting for Lindsey to become the mean girl or to hurt Devon or to do something that would tear Devon and Ezra apart, like I said Emma handled the miscommunication's quite well, and the fact that she didn't was just amazing. I am so glad she didn't take them down that path or make Lindsey in to some petty character. It's one of the reasons I absolutely loved this book. There was no mean characters, which I know that is not always the case in High School, but I am so over the girls being evil or the best friend turning on each other over a guy. It just made no sense to me and I am so glad that it wasn't the case in this book. Even though Lindsey and Devon aren't best friends. I just thought I would point that out. Now Foster, Devon's cousin, was another amazing character! He was just the kind of character you want to take care of. The little weirdo brother you have that you want to protect. He was always just saying whatever popped in his head and he didn't bother beating around the bush. He was blunt but it was part of his character that I just loved him for it. I don't think we got enough of Foster in this book, and I would seriously read a story about just him, with maybe some moments of Ezra and Devon thrown in. Just saying! I said earlier, but I am going to repeat, the bo
At first glance, I was extremely interested in reading this book. The references to Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights, though intriguing, didn't really affect me too much as I've never read/watched either one. (I know, totally unacceptable!) So as far as that comparison goes, I cannot comment on the similarities. I did, however, think back to The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock and thought it had a lot of similarities to that movie. A less than popular kid who finds he has a hidden talent for football. I always love a story with the underdog coming around full force! Devon is happy spending her Friday nights sitting on the bleachers watching her best friend, Cas, who she also has a major secret crush on, play football. When her cousin ends up living with her due to unforeseen issues in his own family, Devon is forced to accept the fact that Foster is now going to be in her life... and thus very much in her presence, at school AND at home. His quirky personality, nerdiness, and lack of verbal filter causes quite a lot of embarrassing moments for Devon. What they didn't realize was Foster's hidden talent for football. He's an incredible kicker, and as soon as the football catches a glimpse of his kicking abilities, he's immediately wanted on the team. This means Devon will also be spending more time with the team... and with the new, incredibly talented, football player, Ezra. "Why are you such good friends with him?" I asked, watching Ezra scramble for the key chains. He shrugged. "Why are you such good friends with Cassidy over there?"... "Why are any of us friends with the people we're friends with?" Jordan went on. "They've got qualities we like - maybe some we see in ourselves. Maybe some we want to see in ourselves." This story has SO MUCH going for it. A wonderfully strong family component, the friendships are topnotch, the crises and drama-filled events these characters experience are extremely realistic and relateable (and not just added to the story for the sake of adding some drama), the story is smooth and flows effortlessly, and there isn't a single moment during the story where an eye-roll, sigh, or groan of "ugh!" is necessary. It's simply a story you will enjoy from beginning to end. Sounds perfect, right? It is! First & Then is the perfect book for me to recommend to EVERYONE! Let me stress this point... there is NO love triangle, NO insta-love, NO cheating... and the list goes on and on! I don't there's anything in this story that would completely turn people off. It's one of the few YA contemporaries that I truly think almost anyone would enjoy. It will leave you feeling giddy and all kinds of mushy inside. And who doesn't love that kind of story?! (Thanks to Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) for the review copy!)