5 Hearts

First by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Pay it forward is a positive concept when it comes to having the desire to help others. So why not take a bad experience and strive to help those around you; and in return they will bring positive experience to others.  

What could be the problem with this way of thinking and acting? Would there be a flaw in the concept of “paying it forward?” Well the answer to that is YES, there can be.

First by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, introduces us to how one person can help teach a life concept in a positive and illuminating light. These students become more confident in their abilities and knowledge, while in return they ‘pay it forward’ by demonstrating their new expertise with those they care for. This teaching cycle is to allow those that are ‘first-timers’ to truly enjoy and gain found memories of the lesson. While that was part of the plan. 


Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up

I received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review.

Personal Thoughts 

 Mercedes Ayres has everything compartmentalized and laid out in a foreseeable plan.

  1. Get into MIT to get FAR away from her Crazy Mother.
  2. Stay on top of her grades and class work.
  3. Tutor other classmates in Chemistry
  4. Keep a Low Profile at school
  5. Attend prayer group a few mornings a week with her best friend Angela.
  6. Have Wednesday Lunch ‘date’ with Zach. Which is code for Lunch Sex. 
  7. And help out the virgin-male-population of her High School, so they will treat their girlfriends the right way, when they have sex for the first time together.

Everything has its category and no one will know the wiser what goes on behind Mercedes bedroom doors. Well, all plans have a possibility of falling apart. Mercedes swears she is going to stop helping the virgin-male-teens after number 5. Then 10, she swears is the last. Nope, she will stop at 12. Well this is a constant internal conversation and struggle. She feels strong with the control over these boys.

As long as the guys all keep their mouths shut and she keeps up her Nerdy-Churchy façade, she will be all in the clear. Mercedes never expected her best friend, Angela’s boyfriend, would try to get in on the deviriginized scheme.   

Mercede’s only has two people in her life that are constants, Angela and Zach. Even with the new girl, Faye befriending her, she still struggles with trust. Trusting people means you have to give them a little bit of control over yourself. 

Her theory is: those who control are the ones that “call[…] the shots, and the one in control sets the pace. Most important of all, the one in control doesn’t get hurt.”  That is why she keeps every one at a distance. No one can hurt her. Because of a painful experience at the age of 13, she no longer trust or believes people care about her.They are only looking out for themselves. She is used to people abandoning her. Her father left when she was young; her mother isn’t around even though they live in the same house; and, the guy she slept with the first time just walked right out of her life without saying a word. She wasn’t going to allow others to do that to her. She rather does the walking away so she can ‘control the pace.’ That is why she has dedicated herself to school. Mercedes goal, to attend M.I.T is her ticket out of California.  

Spoilers Ahead 

I totally get the concept of needing control. Once it is something you learn to obtain, it becomes difficult to let it go. With all the crap that has happened to Mercedes I can understand why her coping mechanism is having sex.  She felt powerful over the boys she was instructing. She picked, who, when, where, time, and how long. Then she made them leave. She recorded everything, but it all back fired in her face. Angela’s boyfriend, tried to blackmail Mercedes into sleeping with him. When she doesn’t and tells Angela, he tells the whole school, via video and pictures.

I felt really bad for Mercedes, she shouldn’t have had to go through all the torture and bullying because of choices those boys made. They asked her, she only sought one out. The whole situation just SUCKED.

When we also discover that Mercedes was raped and had to have an abortion because of a guy, she thought she loved you come to understand the pain and what brought her to this point.

At the end of the book, when she comes to terms with everything that had happened she says: “Here’s the thing. I can’t make up the speed limit any more than I can take back time. I can’t fix what has already happened to me, and I certainly can’t fix what happened because of me. But what I can do is drive beside the somebody who is beside me now. I could drive away in a few months life I planned and start fresh. Or I could stay here and love people I’m with the life I have with them.”

Overall, it is a great coming of age book. We learn about sex – the do’s and don’ts. We also learn about friendship, trust, independent strength and humility. Great job. 

Parental Info

Acitive Swearing, Active Sex, underage drinking, sex-tape, heavy bullying,
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