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Devon Tennyson’s life is anything but extraordinary, but everything begins to change when her cousin Foster comes to stay with her family for the year. Not only does she have to share her home and parents with her socially awkward cousin, but she also has gotten stuck in Freshman P.E., which is worse than a death sentence to Devon. Now picking up the pieces to her slowly crumbling life, Devon must navigate her relationship with Foster, as well as deal with his obnoxious senior mentor, Ezra, who seems too good to be true. With plenty of humor, heart-breaking moments, and drama, Emma Mills has created a story of overcoming the past and the resilience it takes to move on.

First & Then is a novel that teens are sure to enjoy. From page one, Devon and Foster are sure to capture the hearts of readers and to make them simultaneously laugh and cry as the two discover themselves and see the good in one another.

While the main characters seem to be cliche and undeveloped at some points, teens are sure to relate to the struggles of self-discovery and first love that each character goes through over the course of the novel. This story spectacularly displays the journey of discovering love and who one truly is in a tangible and interesting way; the lessons and messages in the novel are simply unforgettable.

While I did enjoy the novel as a whole, there were some elements that were less enjoyable. During my reading experience, I found the plot to move extremely slow, and the character development was not visible until nearly the end of the novel. The second half of the novel was very interesting and moved much quicker; it almost felt like I had started to read a completely different book. That said, First & Then is very enjoyable, but it has a very slow beginning. 

From a tragic tale of familial love to the fallout of parental neglect, First & Then is an unforgettable book. Fans of Gayle Forman’s Just One Day and John Green’s Paper Towns are sure to find this novel to be both captivating and touching. This tale is one that readers of all ages are sure to be raving about and applauding. Pick up your copy of Emma Mills’ debut novel, First & Then, and follow Foster, Ezra, and Devon as they forget the past, try to survive the horrors of high school, and experience the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time.


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