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Stand Out Contemporary | Book Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

It’s a gush fest today about First & Then!

Book Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

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first & then emma mills book review

Title & Author: First & Then by Emma Mills

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: October 13, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Macmillan

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, 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 for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.”

Pride & Prejudice Meets Friday Night Lights

The heading of the review (above) is the best description First & Then could have. Not only do I LOVE both of those things, but it perfectly describes the content and feel of this story.

For a book about sports (who knew this would become a favorite of mine), this story is very deep and tugged all the strings of my heart.

Devon is the type of girl you would actually know in high school. She’s sarcastic and funny and although she knows the popular crowd, she’s not really one of them. Her humor is very dry – just like our beloved Lizzy Bennett – and her observations interesting.

In her everyday life, Devon occasionally wonders what Jane Austen would do or say about the things Devon experiences. Those moments were the best, especially as an Austen fan myself. Devon was always spot on. (What Would Jane Do needs to be a thing, right?)

Although there is certainly a slow burn romance I was a thousand percent in favor of, First & Then’s true strength was in its portrayal of family and hardships. Devon is adjusting to her cousin Foster coming to live with them, and his life and how he interacts with Devon’s family is incredibly moving throughout the book.

First & Then dealt with relatable issues that ran deep, but between Devon’s humor and the romance, the book didn’t feel heavy or depressing. It’s light and beautiful and a truly stand-out contemporary read.

Speaking of romance, I’ll just say three more words about it: teen Mr. Darcy. If that doesn’t catch your attention, I don’t know what will.


There was not one moment of this book I didn’t enjoy. I absorbed and cherished every bit, and I cannot recommend this novel enough. First & Then is an exemplary YA contemporary book of the year.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • AnneBennett

    You had me at Pride and Prejudice. Guess I’ll have to check this book out.

  • Zainab

    Oh my gosh – I honestly loved this book – could you please, please, please compile a list of books similar to this because so far, I haven’t found one that i haven’t read before. Please do – it would really be appreciated. Thank you