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It’s been a couple weeks now since I finished Firsts, and honestly, I’m still struggling to put my feelings into words. So, like usual, I’ll start with the basics.

Mercedes is known in her high school for helping virgin boys through their first time, with the end goal of giving their girlfriends a better experience. Mercedes is happy with, and even feels empowered by what she’s doing, until it spirals out of control as more and more boys approach her, including the boyfriend of her extremely religious best friend.

First and foremost, I feel like this is a very important book for teenagers to read, because it deals very frankly with sexuality, slut-shaming, double standards, and consequences. This book is obviously very heavy on the sex, given the subject matter, but it is absolutely not a sexy book. It doesn’t celebrate or shame what Mercedes does, but rather lets the reader decide how to feel about it.

Mercedes is a very complex character. She’s not defined by her sexuality. She’s intelligent, and one of the best students in her chemistry class. She’s an atheist, but her best friend is ultra-religious. This is a non-issue throughout the book. She has a strained relationship with both parents; her mother would rather be her friend, and her father walked away when she was eight years old. She is not perfect, but she is realistic.

Firsts is an excellent debut novel, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s not uncomfortable with the topic. And maybe even for people who are.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆