A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some Jane Austen titles and themes from her work; a few plot points and characters from Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility mentioned.
Don't make yourself different for someone else. You can't change yourself or others to try to force love to happen, and would you want to be with someone you had to make love you? You love something or someone because it makes you feel all kinds of things, both positive and negative; loving doesn't mean being happy all the time.
Positive Role Models
Devon, 17, is a bit aimless but does well academically and socially. As she matures she learns empathy for others, and finds something worth striving for; taking the easy route isn't good enough anymore. Cousin Foster, a freshman, is odd but dealing with past tragedy. He's fairly easygoing but insightful and gets right to the point. Love interests Ezra and Cas are good models for sportsmanship, loyalty, and support.
Violence & Scariness
Blood from nosebleeds mentioned a couple of times. A player is tackled and knocked unconscious at a football game.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens talk about having sex. Kissing briefly described once or twice. A minor teen character is pregnant. Past making out mentioned. Feminine hygiene products and condoms in a store mentioned.
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Frequent: "ass," "asshole," "bitch," "bulls--t," "crappy," "damn," "d--k," "d--khead," "f--k" and variations, "hell," "holy s--t," "s--t" and variations, "piss." Uses "PT" to stand for "prostitots" in reference to younger female students who are into makeup and fashion.
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Products & Purchases
Fast food, tech, car, TV, movie, mall, and video game products mentioned usually to establish mood or character, a few seem gratuitous. Author is vlogger Elmify and cohost of YouTube channel How to Adult; kids who read the flap may check out these outlets.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen drinking at parties taken for granted, and some drunken behavior is narrated. Narrator usually chooses soda, possibly because she's driving. Mention of two past incidents of teens dying in drunk-driving accidents. Faint smell of weed mentioned. Speculation of a distant relative possibly addicted to drugs. A teen smokes at a school event, seemingly out in the open. Glowing tip of a cigarette used in simile.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.