First & Thenby Emma Mills
Published on October 13th 2015
by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Also by this author: This Adventure Ends
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.
Last year, I made a vow to read more of the books I’ve purchased over the years. Unfortunately, new books keep coming out and distracting me from my goal, but fortunately, Emma Mills’ novel, First & Then, can now boast that it has been read. It’s a cute contemporary inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice–with football.
Our narrator, Devon, doesn’t know what she wants from life. She’s content with blending in, making assumptions of people, and secretly liking her friend Cas. When her cousin Foster comes to live with her family for a while, she’s unofficially put in charge of looking out for him. Foster’s not exactly Devon’s idea of fun, so she’s not thrilled by his presence.
But there’s more to Foster than she gives him credit for. As she gets to know him, she realizes that he’s a good kid with a good heart. He introduces her to people and experiences she probably would never have experienced for herself, and that brushing people off quickly isn’t fair to the other person. There’s a slew of secondary characters whom Devon assumes she knows that continually surprise her with things she didn’t know about them. I loved that. Seeing Devon and Foster grow together, becoming a family, is the true focus of the novel.
Emma Mills expertly weaves different elements into her book. High school life and the town’s love of football were well thought out. While some of the football descriptions were past my knowledge of the sport, being part of the games while I was reading was so much fun. Devon’s unrequited love for Cas was so true: I know exactly how she felt (been there before), and when she realizes what it means for her and for Cas…oh, boy.
Then there’s Ezra. He’s a senior, excellent at football, who keeps his words close and his silence closer. He’s a football hero who’s immediately put on Devon’s brush-off list, until Foster’s involvement with football puts them closer together. Their interactions are so cute. They’re perfectly matched when it comes to battles of wit. They challenged each other intellectually and emotionally. By the end of the book, they had me going, “Awww.” My only gripe is that there are several Big Misunderstandings that rise up that could have easily been solved with one sentence of dialogue. Really, now. 🙂 And another gripe: more kissing required.
I really liked this story, and after seeing Bee’s sparkling review of Emma Mills’ second book, it sounds like she’s going to become one of my go-to authors. I’m definitely diving more often into my never-ending TBR pile for hidden gems.