First & Thenby Published 13 Oct 2015
|First & Then.pdf|
|Publisher||Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)|
Listening time 7 hours 5 minutes
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
"First & Then" Reviews
This is about football. I DID NOT KNOW THIS BEFORE I STARTED. The blurb barely hints at football being a Big Thing and the cover...dudes, that cover does not say football. It says arty soliloquies and midnight cupcake snacks. Needless to say: I don't sport. So this wasn't the perfectest book for me. Buuuut it WAS STILL GOOD in many respects so I'm going to break it into a list. Because lists are awesome.
THINGS I LIKED
• The characters were really, really well written. They were so dimensional and complex! And while I wasn't a huge fan of the narrator, Devon, I really loved all the side-characters. And there are an enormous host of them. But somehow, in just a few words, the author wrote them all exquisitely and interestingly!? So GO for having zero character cliches in this book.
• The romance was adorably complex and interesting. It's not overly romantic, because Devon isn't actually sure WHO she likes. Her best friend is Cas, but Cas likes this other girl, and Devon is interested in Ezra but he's about as welcoming as a brick wall so -- complexness ensues. I enjoyed it because it wasn't intense and passionate, but it was feelsy and I WAS ROOTING FOR MY OTP SO BAD.
• Devon has this cousin, Foster, who has moved in with them because of Complex Family Issues, and he was a real sweetie. Kind of dorky? Kind of in need of protection? Kind of more capable than everyone gave him credit for?!
• The writing was a delicious creation of sensibleness and details. I like that! Most books I read seem to head for the whimsical or hilarious zone -- this was neither. So huzzah for refreshing.
• And while Devon wasn't a huge bookworm and the only books she reads appears to be Jane Austen...SHE IS STILL A BOOK FAN SO I LIKE THAT.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE MUCH AT ALL (MY BAD):
• Devon is...a...boy's name...EXCEPT DEVON HERE IS A GIRL. Do you know how awkward it is to read several pages before working this out? I was getting excited because I thought it was about a BOY who read JANE AUSTEN and I was like "Woah, go dude!" So no. #awkward
• It's about football. Did I mention that?!?! It's severely footballish in the first 100-pages, but after that it merges into highschool and parties. The parties aren't "wild-let's-get-everything-drunk-and-scream-at-each-other" because Devon is NOT that kind of person. But still...I don't care about sports or parties and college applications miff me because that's not how it goes in Australia. SO YEAH. The actual story line just...was lost to me in a mountain of meh.
• Plus, while I admired Devon for being serious, slightly sarcastic, and not outgoing -- she was kind of boring to read about. She had no goals. That's kinda the point of the book. She doesn't know what she's studying, or what she wants in life. She has no hobbies. DUDE, HOW DO YOU EVEN LIVE?!?! (I am an emphatic hobby-person, clearly.) So I found her kind of 90% unrelatable because she just sort of flitted around without putting much effort into things.
• There is a Big Mystery behind why Foster came to live with Devon's family. It isn't explained. What is this?! I WANT ANSWERS.
• The plot and storyline are really very, veeeery slow. It's like 2:30pm as I finish this and I wish to nap. It's like a comfortable story and it's well written, like I said, but it ain't getting the heart pumping at all.
• Devon's relationship with [spoilers removed]
I'm half and half about this book, honestly! I LIKE. But I wasn't in love and I had a fair few snoozy moments. Although there was a particular description of french onion dip and chips that had me pausing and considering if I could fold myself into teh book and partake to wake me up. AND PLUS: these characters were adorable and amazing and I loved Foster and Ezra an enormous amount. It was a sweet story and I enjoyed it! But I'm not sure it was really "my thing".
I simply can’t measure the love I have for this book… well I guess I can, with these 5 stars I’m giving it, but I just don’t feel like it accurately represents just HOW much I actually loved this story. I couldn’t stop reading and ended up staying up way too late just to finish.
Can I tell you all a secret? I have never read a single Jane Austen book. Ever.
Okay, stop with the astonished looks. I will tell you this. I am not much for the classics. I told myself I was going to read more of them… I just haven’t.
I promise I will read them… or one… or something.
BUT the reason I’m saying that is because this book summary sells it as Pride & Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights.
Did you guys know I’m a bit of a sucker for sports related stories? First & Then kind of revolves around football… I mean it’s definitely a part of the story but it’s not the whole story.
Devon Tennyson is kind of drifting through her senior year of high school, she’s spent ages crushing over her best friend Cas, and once an only child, her house and life is now being overrun by her younger long-lost cousin’s presence.
I think what I loved most in this story were the relationships and the way they were explored. Devon and Foster are kind of forced into a type of brother/sister relationship which you can tell from the beginning that she kind of resents. Foster, for his part, seems nice and even a bit sweet, even though he’s a bit closed off about his emotions and feelings, but his life has been anything but nice and sweet. Despite his history I loved his protectiveness towards Devon and I really enjoyed their dynamic together.
Devon herself is totally my kind of girl. She’s funny and snarky and there were times that I found myself literally laughing out loud while reading parts of this book.
“Yeah. Lindsay. You know.”
Oh I knew. A cute nickname was the first mile marker on Gag Highway…
High school parties are breeding grounds for idiotic people with too much drama and not enough sense.
Of course there is a boy… or two. I mentioned Cas, Devon’s best friend earlier, and I honestly really loved their ease together and their friendship. I thought I really liked him… but then something happens at the end that really just crushed me. I’m not telling you what it is, you’ll figure it out when you read it, but let’s just say his swoon factor dropped exponentially.
The second boy is Ezra… Devon has Ezra pegged as a huge asshole when she realizes that they are the only seniors in a freshman gym class together and he treats her like crap. Oh… Ezra is an all American football player… best on the team and going to the college of his choosing. But he’s not the guy everyone has him pegged as and I really, really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship. My only complaint… more kissing please! LOL
Overall a wonderfully told story of love and friendship, family and loss, and finding the things that drive you. And yes… it’s my understanding that fans of Austen will recognize the references while reading… even if I didn’t.
Put this one on your TBR list now… pre-order it and then wait patiently by your mailbox because you NEED to read this one as soon as you possibly can!
I DID IT! I READ 7 BOOKS IN ONE WEEK! I HAVE WON BOOKTUBE-A-THON 2017!! *screams *falls into a heap on the floor
This book was cute... not my favorite contemporary but it was cute and I liked the second half quite a lot... It wasn't anything completely special though... but it was cute!!
I'm sad I didn't enjoy this to its maximum potential, because I adore the person who wrote it. Emma is so hilarious and genuine and articulate in her youtube videos, and I've been watching her since middle school. Her book, however, I'm not a huge fan of. She's a talented writer because she's SO incredibly smart, but this book had no drive. There was no real plot to it, and it almost felt as if the wrong person was telling the story. It focuses heavily on a character that's not the main character, and reading about him from an outside perspective was boring. I found myself struggling to get through this (around page 100 I considered a DNF but pushed through). This book is filled with football terminology, football games, football players, football parties, etc. and I was extremely bored by that, as well. I see the potential in Emma's writing and characters, since some bits and pieces did come together to make a quite touching story, but this is one of those contemporaries that are just light and happy and angsty and I'm not a huge fan of them anymore, so I was just waiting for something more interesting to happen, but it never did.
I hear her newest one coming out later this year is really good, and so since I love her, I'm going to give that one a try as well! But this one wasn't my cup of tea.
"When you love something, you can’t be happy all the time, can you? Like, that’s why you love it. It makes you feel all kinds of things, not just happy. It can hurt, it can make you fucking mad, but…it makes you feel something, you know?”
While both underwhelming and absolutely perfect, this was exactly what I needed. I say this because I am having the hardest time lately, between work, home life, and my little fur babies, writing reviews. It’s starting to bother me that I am losing my reviewing time-I find the moments when I write a review so cathartic, and to lose that has been devastating. My time on GR has even dwindled. But I’m not one to stop because it’s simply difficult. So here I am, making time to write a review for a book that not only kept me sane with its understated simplicity, but with it’s all around alluring characters and smooth, albeit not what I expected at all, story-line.
We reached my car, which was a shameful distance from the curb and sticking into the street at a really awkward angle. I couldn’t parallel park to save my life.
I can’t say I fell head over heels for this like I had imagined or hoped I would, but there was just something so charming hidden deep within these pages. I find, many times, that my favorite stories are those that I feel like I could have lived-IE, realistic fiction. It’s not enough to write a cheesy story that plays on the clichés of high school. I like to feel as though I’m trapped in the pages along with all the other characters. And while this one wasn’t perfect, it certainly made me smile, laugh, and extremely happy.
"It’s weird. Sometimes it feels like we’re still the ones in the pictures, and everything that happened after happened to other people. And then sometimes we’re the other people, and the strangers are in the frames.”
Perhaps one of my favorite things about this novel, besides the quiet, brooding male-lead, was the references to Jane Eyre. I’ve never personally read anything by Jane Eyre, but I found it a quirky defining character trait for our MC. 'If I were Jane, I’d say something like’, ‘If this were a Jane Eyre novel, I’d carry myself’ etc etc. It was cute and funny, and I found that it kept me engaged, for whatever reason. And keep in mind, I didn’t say those lines even closely to how she says them, but I wanted to kind of give you an idea of what she was like.
"I really think you should, you know, give that, uh…soup…a chance.”
“You know. That soup we were talking about. I think you should give it a shot. It’s a really…good recipe. Highly dependable. And obviously delicious." Her eyes widened. “Not that I would know. Not that I’ve tasted the soup.”
“This is not a flawless metaphor.”
Devon was a girl who is very intelligent, but had no idea where to go with her life or what to do with it. As I sit here and type this, I realize that I kind of resonated with that. I never cared. That’s not to say I was lazy or had an identity crisis or anything, but I certainly never thought much into the future. I wanted to live in the then and now, and thinking about college and what I was going to do with my life scared the shit out of me. But back to Devon. She had a really funny inner-monologue that had me laughing out loud numerous times, and her quips about people were spot on (in my opinion). But then all of a sudden there were two new people in her life, and for once, she was completely wrong about them.
Ezra snorted and then grimaced, and it was quiet for a moment. “So, uh, did you write the ‘inaccessibly handsome’ part?”
“No, I definitely didn’t.” I realized how that sounded and then felt compelled to go on. My shoes suddenly became incredibly interesting. “But, I mean…it’s true.”
“You think I’m handsome?”
Ezra is an all-star running back with a future as bright as the blazing sun. He could go to any college he wants and he runs the field with the grace of an already established professional athlete. His quirk? He’s quiet, broody, and not good with words. I found this to be totally adorable. Devon would try to talk to him and he’d just stare or have so little to say…only to lead to an uncomfortable silence and a stilted, stuttered answer. He tried his best, he really did…He just did not have the gift of gab. And his vulnerability is just so so perfect-UGH! You’ll see. Just..sigh. Devon takes his silence for indifference, but he actually has so much to say. And most importantly…he wants to say it all to her.
He smiled a little as he looked back down at the paper. “What about the ‘inaccessible’ part? Kinda makes me sound like a badly zoned restroom.”
“It’s true, though. A few details here and there aren’t bad. You’re not exactly forthcoming.”
“I told you. I’m not great at talking.”
“You’re talking now.”
He shrugged. “You’re easy to talk to.”
Something fluttered around in my stomach at that. A lone butterfly, agitating me for some reason.
And then there was Foster. He was an unexpected favorite on my part, and Devon didn’t really know what to make of him at times. At first she finds that he is her annoying cousin that got pushed in on them and is an annoying tagalong, but when Ezra takes a kinship and liking to him, putting him under his wing, Devon realizes there’s more to him than meets the eye. His quirk? I’m not sure….but he was an amazing and completely thoughtful character that I wanted to reach into the pages and hug repeatedly.
"Are you drunk?” a voice said.
So it was only temporary peace.
I whipped around and ripped the shower curtain back. There sat Foster, fully clothed, in the empty bathtub.
“What the hell are you doing in here?”
There was a rubber duck balanced delicately on his head. It didn’t move as he spoke. “Just sitting.”
This was one of those moments. Those Foster moments. Early-morning smoothies and the like. I squeezed my eyes shut hard.
This story was sweet, simple, and utterly heart-warming. And while I can’t say it jumped to my absolute favorites, it will certainly be one that I look back on and smile about, fondly wanting to re-read all the adorable quotes that gave me subtle feels from beginning to end. Now, the end will either make you extremely happy and smile really big, or it will leave you feeling robbed and wanting more. I was luckily in the prior category, but it could go either way for any one person. I hope people will give this adorable story a chance. I waited a long time for it, and it was certainly exactly what I needed.
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So...this book wasn't what I expected. It wasn't in your face and it wasn't full of emotional drama or lots of cheesy falling in love moments and conversations. It was simpler than that. It was about a girl who doesn't know what she wants. A girl who goes through the motions. A girl who is in love with her best friend. A girl who doesn't need anything more in her life. Not until Foster...and not until Ezra.
Girl meets boy.
Boy is quiet and backwards.
Boy is star football player.
They fall in love.
Slowly....and then all at once. ;)
I loved this book, but I did want more. Though, it was exactly what I needed for my current mood and glacial pace at posting reviews. I can't wait to write a review about this one. Ezra was adorably backwards.
Review to come.