I flew through this book. Literally. I started and finished it on the plane down to Florida for the beginning of my spring break. And of course, I had to reread it as soon as I finished. And then I reread some more this morning. I just can’t get enough of Emma Mills’ writing style and characters.
““We have a secret.”
“What is it?” To my surprise, the question escaped my own lips.
“If I told you, then it wouldn’t be a secret.””
First and Then is Emma Mills’ debut novel, and I think she nailed it. Emma Mills is a popular YouTuber, personally I don’t watch her channel, but some people I do follow do and they recommend this book. I was not lying earlier, I really did fall in love with the characters and plot of this story. It’s now one of my favorite contemporary romances.
”And his pain was my pain, and it hurt, bit it also felt good in a strange way, knowing that we could share in it together.”
Devon Tennyson is the protagonist of this story. She goes from being an only child to having to deal with her cousin, Foster, living with her. At first, she feels resentment towards the small fourteen-year-old misfit, but as time goes on, she must learn to accept him. The amount of character development this short book contains is astonishing, I was quite impressed. As I said before, many, if not all, of the characters in this story are quite relatable. Devon was very was to feel a connection to.
“My thumbs suddenly became very interesting. All opposable and whatnot.”
She has been pining after her best friend, Cas, for as long as she can remember, but he doesn’t seem to feel the same way back. That’s a relatable situation. I think everyone has that someone that they liked for so long, and had no idea whether or not that person liked them back.
Devon’s reactions and thoughts were so realistic and compelling. A good protagonist is one of the key components to a great book. Devon was a good protagonist.
“I could never really understand. But I could strive for empathy. I could at least do that.”
Foster is Devon’s little cousin, moving all the way across the country to live with them. That’s a difficult situation, he’s away from everything he knows, and he has to move in with a family that he saw once very four years or so. Add the fact that Devon isn’t exactly welcoming to him, and my reaction to something like that would be to retreat inside and be the most anti-social teenager that town had ever seen. Obviously, Foster and I have different reactions to things. Instead of retreating or acting resentful, Foster is friendly and cheerful, if not a little overly friendly. See, Foster is not exactly the type that understands boundaries very well, as seen in only the first few pages. At first, I found him slightly annoying, but as the book continued on, just like Devon, I began to love the little guy. (Funny that I’m calling him little, ‘cause I’m the same age as him.)
Cas is Devon’s best friend. She’s been in love with him for a long time. He doesn’t seem to reciprocate the feelings, but Devon still hopes that one day he might- “You Belong With Me” Style. He’s a friendly and charismatic guy. I’d probably love a guy like Cas, if I knew one.
““On an emotional scale of one to ten- one being catatonic and ten being full-on daytime soap opera- Ezra usually hovered somewhere around three.””
And then there’s Ezra Miller. He’s the football star, but he’s not the cliche kind (you know, the cliche, cocky, player kind that I’ve been known to possibly fall in love with.). No, Ezra is the quite, brooding type. It doesn’t help that half his team hates him, instead of loves him. Ezra is a quite the complicated guy to figure out. He’s awkward (I really appreciated that) and isn’t very good at expressing feelings. All the same, I found him cute and like all the characters in this book, fell in love with him.
My favorite side character would have to be Jordan Hunter, Ezra’s best friend. Everyone loves Jordan. He’s the kind of guy you smile around even if you feel like bursting into tears. I really loved his relationship with Devon, and it was evident that he was a really good friend to Ezra. If there’s ever a spin off on this book, I want it to be about Jordan Hunter. (Or maybe Foster and Marabelle)
““I, uh, wanted to see if you had the notes for German today.”
“I take Spanish.”
“Ah,” Jordan bobbed his head and then said,”Well, that’s all. See you later.”” In context, this is one of the most hilarious quotes in the book.
In fact, a lot of this book had me laughing, and the parts that didn’t had me on the edge of my seat or biting my lip in anticipation or happiness. I’m giving this book an 8/10 stars. It was so cute and enjoyable, yet very relatable. This is the perfect definition of cute contemporary (99 Days, take some notes). The ending was satisfying, but if Emma Mills wanted to write a sequel, you would hear no argument from me.
Here’s the synopsis:
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.
It’s said to be a mix between Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights. Hm. Maybe I should start Friday Night Lights, after all, there’s something so attractive about football players.
I really would once more say how much I loved the amount of character development and realism in this story. It’s one of the many factors that made this book a great one.
Anyway, in conclusion, I absolutely fell in love with the characters and story of this lovely book. I highly recommend this to all you contemporary romance lovers- it’s an extremely well written and thought out story. I look forward to reading more from Emma Mills.
(Oh, by the way, any boy who reads a book for me, might be the boy I get married to)
“Dev, you have to know by now… you were the secret.” *SCREAMS* That was one of the most beautiful and satisfying lines of the book. One of the things I really loved about this book was how the romance built up on itself slowly, so it was something that the reader could grow used to and love. Ezra Miller- he read a book for Devon, this shows that he really knows how to woo a girl.
To any boys reading this, the way to my heart is through literature. Not joking.
GUYS. Guys. We have to discuss my all time favorite scene. Of course, it was Devon saving Ezra in the pool. I have to had read that sequence over fifteen times by now and I only finished the book yesterday afternoon!
These characters are so beautiful and real. I just want to get across how much I loved this book. Thank you to Emma Mills for writing such a fantastic novel. I’m sure this will be one of my go to pick me up novels. :)
Thanks for reading, I think we all know what’s going to be posting next (hint: A Lady Midnight Review)