Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive jock, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them--first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
With wit, heart, and humor to spare, First & Then is a contemporary novel about falling in love--with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
I wanted to read this book because it was described as "Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights". While I am not a football fan, I am a fan of Jane Austen's novels as is the protagonist Devon. She often thinks of how the characters would behave in her situation or what they would say. Throughout the novel she is reading Jane Austen books. Although First & Then isn't a retelling of any of Jane Austen's novels, it pays homage to them in spirit.
Devon is a senior in high school and facing the decision of what school she wants to go to but she hasn't put much effort into the process. Instead she's been busy enjoying high school life and spending time with her best friend Cas. Then Devon's family takes in her cousin Foster when his mother abandons him. She is initially resentful of this and thinks of Foster as a nerd she wants to distance herself from. That's kind of hard to do when they are in the same P.E. class. Football star Ezra Lynley is also in her P.E. class and he doesn't make the best impression on Devon though Foster thinks the world of him. When Foster shows promise as a kicker, he is asked to try out for the JV football team and Ezra agrees to help him to Devon's surprise. Devon is a fun protagonist though her attitude towards Foster isn't that great at first. She loves literature, particularly Jane Austen which made me like her more. I felt sorry for her a little too as Cas seemed to be her whole world and he didn't return her feelings for him. Thankfully even though she didn't go looking for friendship, she does make some other friends. She also grows to care about Foster and she starts to see him as her little brother. Her relationship with Ezra improves too as she gets to know him though his secretive nature is certainly challenging. Football is an important part of the novel but to my relief it didn't get too technical. Ezra, Cas and Foster all play on the team. Devon even starts covering the football games as an assistant to the sports photographer (she gets to hold the camera bag). I actually enjoyed reading about the team and how Foster and Ezra bonded over football. Poor Foster has had a rough life so it was nice to see him make a new friend and find someone to look up to. The romance between Ezra and Devon reminded me of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice a little bit (as it is supposed to) but I was glad that it wasn't a retelling. Especially with Cas. He could have been a jerk but he was a nice guy (albeit with flaws). The romance was also not in-your-face. The novel allows for more personal growth of the characters and friendships and family relationships as well. Overall I thought this was a fantastic book that I think would appeal to readers who like contemporary fiction by authors like Sarah Dessen, Jessi Kirby, Jenny Han and Emery Lord. I definitely plan to keep an eye out for the author's next book. Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley