First & Then
Henry Holt & Co.
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With college application deadlines fast-approaching, Devon is under pressure to be her most extraordinary self. The problem? How would Jane Austen say this? She’s remarkably uninteresting. Devon has never minded the sidelines. Especially when her best friend Cas and secret love takes the football field. When her socially awkward cousin Foster moves in with Devon’s family, his presence changes everything, bringing the local unapproachable football star, Ezra, into Devon’s path. Like, almost constantly. Ezra’s new closeness seems to stir some jealous feelings in Cas, and at first Devon thinks this might be the moment in which he discovers his deep love for her. But as she gets to know Ezra better, she starts to wonder if it really is Cas she wants.
I have to be honest. If you had asked me if I’d like to read a book equal parts football and Jane Austen, I would have looked at you as if you’d just asked whether I’d like ice cream on my nachos. Um, what? No. Just no.
I think this really worked. It had a lot more profanity than I was expecting and felt was necessary, but I did enjoy the way Devon kept this inner monologue of Jane Austen describing her modern life. I liked that it celebrated Austen without making the story a straight-up retelling of a familiar tale or something like that. I also enjoyed Foster’s rambling monologues and totally inappropriate questions. I laughed out loud at some moments.
As far as the plot goes, there were definitely some unexpected twists and turns. I liked that, in keeping with true Austen tradition, this isn’t a story with explicit sex. Devon’s on a quest for love, and while she recognizes that sex is out there, she’s not eager for it for its own sake.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used frequently.
One of Devon’s high school friends is pregnant. There’s not much discussion about who she’s been involved with or anything like that. Devon laments her lack of sexual experience. As a senior in high school, she’s never even been kissed, and she hasn’t dated since eighth grade. There are a couple of scenes in which kids are described as making out or kissing. Devon knows that some of her friends are sexually active, but they don’t talk about it explicitly.
Devon’s cousin joins the football team, and she witnesses some practices and games. One player is tackled and suffers a concussion. He is rushed to the hospital. One boy shoves another boy’s head under water repeatedly in a swimming pool. It’s clearly a threat and not a joke.
Devon attends parties where teens are drinking alcohol. She doesn’t enjoy the parties and often doesn’t stay late. Her cousin and another friend each throw parties without any alcohol which are still well-attended, though some guests show up drunk already or plan to leave for other parties in order to get drunk.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.