A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that First & Then is a high school romance that takes the popular tack of setting Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in the present. Debut author Emma Mills is also the vlogger Elmify, and she cohosts the YouTube channel How to Adult; kids who read the bio on the flap may want to check her out. There's lots of strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," "d--k," and variations of each. Teens drink alcohol at parties and there's some drunken behavior, though main character Devon usually chooses soda. Past teen deaths from drunk driving are mentioned. Sexy stuff is light, with teens talking about romance and whether to have sex and a few kisses briefly described.
What's the story?
FIRST & THEN introduces high school senior Devon, who's been secretly in love with her best friend Cas since forever and is always hoping that someday Cas will see her in the same light. When Foster, her freshman cousin, comes to live with Devon's family, he quickly befriends Ezra, the aloof, arrogant, all-American captain of the football team. Now it seems her irritating cousin and Ezra are everywhere Devon turns. So in the midst of deciding about college, trying to pad her extracurriculars, and endlessly rereading Jane Austen, how does Devon end up agreeing to go to homecoming with Ezra instead of Cas? As she learns to see things from others' points of view, she also learns to see herself more clearly. But can she figure out what she really wants?
Is it any good?
Debut author Emma Mills creates an engaging update to Pride and Prejudice that teen romance fans will enjoy. There's little suspense about the outcome for those familiar with Jane Austen's original, but Devon is a relatable character whose authentic voice keeps the pages turning. Although it lacks Austen's emotional depth, it's a solid, lively entry in the romance genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why we love to read romances. Do you like escapist ones or more realistic ones such as First & Then?
Have you read Pride and Prejudice or seen any of the TV or movie adaptations? What similarities and differences do you notice in the story or the characters? If you haven't read any Jane Austen yet, would you like to now? What intrigues you about it?
Do you agree with Ezra about deserving to win because you're better? Are there times when the team or player who's not the best should win? Have you ever let someone win who wasn't as good as you? Why, or why not?
- Author: Emma Mills
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: October 13, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.