“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?”
Devon wouldn’t change a thing about her life. She’s happy enough watching the game on Friday nights, silently crushing on her best friend and stubbornly ignoring life after highschool. But when her social outlier cousin becomes a football prodigy, and becomes friends with the highschool football star Ezra, her life is about to be turned upside down.
It might be clear by now that I’m a big fan of Emma Mill’s books (read my reviews for This Adventure Ends and Foolish Hearts) and I loved this book just as much as the others. As this was her debut novel, I was a little afraid it might not be as good as her two later books, but man, it was and I loved it.
As I’ve said before, Emma Mill’s books strongest parts are the characters. They always feels so alive and so real. I especially liked the idea of Devon’s cousin, who has a difficult home, coming to live with them and that Devon now has to deal with living with a new sort of brother. It creates an interesting dynamic between the characters, especially as Devon learns to look past her cousin’s geeky behavior and attempts to really understand him. But all the other characters, even the minor ones, are really three dimensional and interesting and life-like.
But what stays with me most of all is the humor in the book. The jokes are so good and really my type of humor. Also can I say that Emma Mills is officially the best at openings scenes! She really, really is, and knows how to hook a reader from the very first page.
I also love how the romance isn’t overplayed like in most romantic YA books. In fact, it’s pretty underplayed, and only really comes in in the last chapters. The book is mostly about friendship and family, and how those relationships develop and how important they are.
If you like fast-moving, exciting plots, this is not the book for you. There’s not much plot but the story is a very character driven narrative, so it fits. It’s about these characters developing as people, figuring out what they want, what they priorities are. Not everything needs weird and unexpecting twists.
First & Then is a very cute, lovely, heartwarming, funny story about friendship and family, and figuring out what you want in life, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves contemporary YA, especially if they’re a bit sick of the large doses of romance in that genre.