First & Then

first-then-emma-mills-e1443225180204First Lines: My college essay was title “School Lunches, TS High, and Me,” and it was every bit as terrible as you’d expect.

I was so excited to find this at the library.  (Then again, I’m typically excited just to GET to the library.)  I feel like I never get to read new releases, but I was determined to read this.

If Devon had to describe herself in one word, it would be Average.  Nothing really makes her stand out from the crowd.  She doesn’t have any definite plans for life after high school, she loves Friday nights and football, and she crushes on her best friend Cas.  See?  Average.  But all of that changes when her cousin Foster comes to live with her family.  Foster, an unrepentant social outcast with a surprising talent for football, is going to make Devon stand out whether she likes it or not.  And she does not like it, especially when standing out gains her the attention of Ezra, the star football running back who is suddenly showing up constantly in Devon’s life.

I wasn’t 100% sold on this book when I started it because I was afraid it was going to be too love-triangley.  I mean, Devon likes Cas, but it seems like Devon also likes this Ezra.  So maybe not your typical love triangle, but a love triangle nonetheless.

Actually, it works really well.  It’s really relatable.  Devon is in love with her best friend, who doesn’t feel the same way back.  (Devon’s constant sarcasm is definitely another selling point for me.)  And Foster’s also relatable as this boy whose life has turned to utter crap and yet he still manages to retain this optimistic outlook on life.

The plot was also interesting.  The love angle takes up surprisingly little of the story.  A lot of it is Devon trying to break out of mediocrity.  For example, she does want to go to college–but she doesn’t know how to make herself stand out.  She’s got average grades, no extracurriculars whatsoever, and hasn’t done anything extraordinary with her life.  And this was a surprising direction for the story, especially when you factor in Ezra who is Extraordinary with a capital-E.  So I was pleasantly surprised by that.

There is a lot of profanity in this book.  I mean, there was one tirade with an impressive number of f-bombs, but there’s a lot of general profanity.  (Oh gosh, I just had a How I Met Your Mother moment…*salutes* General Profanity.)  Anywho, it’s kind of Devon’s character.  So if that bothers you, maybe you think about steering away from this one.

On an enjoyment scale, this book scores high.  It’s a lot of fluff, but it’s cute.  And there’s a lot about comparing boys/love now to boys/love in the days of Jane Austen.  So that adds another layer to the cuteness.  But if you really start to look at the finer points of the story, like minor characters that crop up out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly, it starts to break down a little.  Still, I enjoyed reading it.

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