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.
I was attracted to this because of the openness of the sexual element. Mercy teaches virgins how to have sex properly so they don't disappoint their girlfriends, to avoid anyone else having such a crappy first time like hers. Yet I instantly had issues with how Mercy conducted herself - while she had somewhat noble intentions, the boys she were teaching were cheating on their girlfriends, she might not have actively sought them out but that's still cheating in my book!
The main point of this book was that Mercy had a very open and modern approach to sex - it was refreshing to have that bluntness criticising society's double standards. Because of course when the truth comes out, all people can see is a slut who slept with too many guys, not a girl who was trying to help guys learn.
I didn't really like Mercy. Not sure what it was - it definitely wasn't her attitude to sex, that was awesome, but she was so closed off and private. Yet I totally felt for her; she had an abysmal first relationship and doesn't want any other girl to go through the same thing. She also has an absentee mother who cares more about her appearance than her feelings and a dad who disappeared years ago - I mean really, it's not much wonder she has a wall around her heart!
To start with, she definitely had an unhealthy approach to sex but Mercy's issues are addressed; she comes to an understanding with her parents, forced to come to terms with her past and be honest with herself concerning her sexual partners. As Mercy learns to use sex as part of a healthy relationship, instead of its only part, the author uses the entire story trying to prove the point that it's ok for girls and guys to be honest about sex, and I liked and appreciated that.
Published 5th January 2016 by St Martin's Griffin. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.