Thursday, January 21, 2016

Blog Tour - Q&A & Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

 
Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Canadian Blog Tour for FIRSTS! Today I'll be sharing a little Q&A with Laurie and then my thoughts on the story. Many thanks to Raincoast Books for the opportunity to read the book early and for organizing this tour!
 
Firsts Blog Tour postcard

 
Q & A with Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
 
BCP: Did you always know how Firsts was going to end?
 
LEF: In one word—no! I’m a pantser, so when I started writing, I really didn’t know how the events were going to unfold or what was going to happen. But as I neared the end, I let my instincts take over and wrapped things up in a way that I hope does justice to the story.
 
BCP: What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
 
LEF: I hope readers take away that it’s easy to judge a person, but not to really know them. We all have secrets. We’ve all been through things, and it’s impossible to know everything about someone else—especially someone you just see in the halls at school or know through rumors. Mercedes only puts forward the version of herself she wants other people to see. She doesn’t trust anyone to know her real self or what has happened in her past. She reminds me how important it is to be kind to everyone, because you never know what someone is going through or has been through.

Thank you so much Laurie for answering my questions today and a huge congratulations on the publication of FIRSTS! Read on to find out what I thought of the book :)
 
 
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
January 5, 2016
320 pages


Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

 
Review

Upon hearing about Firsts, I was intrigued but hesitant. Sex is such a relevant topic in today's world I think it's great it's being talked about. My reservation though was that it might be too mature. Especially with first experiences. Would that work out in a YA novel? The answer is Yes.

Much praise go to Ms. Flynn for writing about these important matters: sex and slut-shaming in high school. I can't believe how serious it has become because these were never issues when I went to high school (a bajillion years ago I guess). My firm belief is that sex is nobody's business except the two people involved. Furthermore, no one should make another person feel bad about it. It cracked my heart to see Mercedes being judged and treated so horribly by her peers. These people had no right. They knew nothing about her and the hell she'd personally been through.

Mercy, short for Mercedes, was a difficult character for me to pin down my feelings for. She was so closed-off. I admired her for her well-intention and following through with it but I couldn't get behind all the poor choices she made. When things were getting out of control with the virgin boys, she didn't stop. She suspected something was wrong but instead of stopping, she kept making excuses for herself to keep going. It seemed like she was letting these guys take advantage of her and not caring about it. I felt like she was punishing herself (but also enjoying it) for the awful things that happened to her when she was younger. Which was just wrong because it was in no way her fault. Mercy's overconfidence also made me feel uneasy. "I stereotype...because people's personalities develop from a routine, too." (ARC, p. 59). It was a good try, unfortunately it didn't quite work out. The biggest jerk of all blindsides her and me.

Reality is harsh and Firsts doesn't let you forget that. When word about what she'd been doing got out, Mercy's life became a nightmare. I was really appalled by who and the method used to expose her secret. I was  trembling with hate and outrage. It's so unbelievable and disgusting arghh. I always knew sooner or later, her secret would come out but I was not expecting it in that way (being secretly filmed and released onto social media). In fact, I couldn't understand how Mercy thought she could keep it all under wraps. I hated that the virgin boys were such cowards and never spoke up for her. At the same time I also understood they were angry and afraid themselves. Ms. Flynn does an excellent job in bringing out that the best of intentions may not be perceived that way. At first, I really wanted Mercy to justify what she did but when I thought more about it, I'm glad she didn't. If I put myself in all those girlfriends' shoes, I'd probably think Mercy's absurd. I only wish some people got more in terms of punishment.

Even though Mercy had absent parents, she overcame the hate and insults with faithful friends by her side. Faye was peculiar at the beginning but there are no words for the sacrifice she made for Mercy. I love Angela for sticking to her beliefs. She's a strong one.  I absolutely cannot forget about Zach because he made the story for me. If it wasn't for his unrelenting love and support for Mercy (even after she kept pushing him away), I don't think I'd have been able to finish this story. He was the big bright spot.

I was pleased with how the story turned out. The character growth was superb. "But all those maybes aren't important, because I can't control them." (ARC, p. 320). This couldn't be truer. There will always be things out of our control. Attempting to control it will only drive yourself crazy so learn to let it go (at its own pace).
 
3.5 Cats
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinion are my own and not affected in any way. All quotes were taken from the copy I received.

 
Laurie Elizabeth FlynnAbout the Author:
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her debut, FIRSTS, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press in 2016.

Laurie went to school for Journalism, where the most important thing she learned was that she would rather write made-up stories than report the news. She also worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris.

Laurie now lives in London, Ontario with her husband Steve, who is very understanding when she would rather spend time with the people in her head. Laurie can mostly be found writing happily at her desk, with the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua on her lap. Laurie drinks way too much coffee, snorts when she laughs, and times herself when she does crossword puzzles.

Laurie is represented by the amazing Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Website  Goodreads

Follow the tour throughout the week (click to enlarge and see where the tour stops next)!

Firsts Blog Tour postcard

10 comments:

  1. Awesome review! I'm interested in reading this book. :) (And I love how your half a star is a littler cat. CUTE)

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    1. Thanks Ri <3 We need to discuss after you do!

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  2. Wonderful interview, thanks for sharing it. I love the the author didn't know how this was going to end until it did.

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    1. Same! I'm so happy I got the chance to ask her these question. Thank you :)

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  3. Wonderful review and interview! I've heard such positive things about this book but I'm not comfortable reading books that contain a lot of sex so I'll give this one a miss. :)

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  4. I seriously loved this book! At first it was a hard read since I really didn't like Mercy, but she grew on me and the story even more. Glad you liked it too!!

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    1. Yes! I'm glad I stuck through to the end :D

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  5. Oh, I love that book cover and the story sounds interesting too. I'm glad to know that you were able to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. You're so welcome! I hope you pick it up too :D

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