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
This book reminded me a bit of THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger – both books take a frank, unvarnished look at teenage sexuality, both feature likeable protagonists who struggle with real intimacy, and both are populated by winning characters that suck you right into the story.
Mercedes is a flawed, relatable girl whose unconventional response to her own sexual trauma is to devote herself to making the first time better for other girls – by training their boyfriends in secret. Her own relationships spin wildly out of her control – with Zach, the one guy she really cares about but can’t bear to get close to; with Angela, the naïve best friend who has no idea about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities; with Faye, the new girl who challenges Mercedes’ ideas about herself; with her mother, who long ago stopped trying to be any kind of maternal figure. And Mercedes tries to exert control through her secret sexual life. Of course, in the age of social media and rampant slut shaming, her lessons can never stay secret, but when it all falls apart, Mercedes finally learns the most important lesson of all – that she has people in her life who love her, and that she is worthy of that love.
FIRSTS is available now.