Book Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Book Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills

Published by Pan Macmillan on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 267
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

Click here to buy the book from AmazonBooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
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 and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

First & Then is a story about Devon Tennyson – an only child about to start her senior year of high school and no plan at all for the future. She’s content having unrequited love for her best friend and coasting though school being remarkably unremarkable. But then her cousin Foster comes to live with her family becoming the little brother Devon never had. Her relationship with best friend Cas changes in a way Devon isn’t prepared for. And to top it off the obnoxiously arrogant yet unbelievably skilled jock Ezra becomes a complication Devon doesn’t need when he takes Foster under his wing.

This is one of those contemporary stories which capture the moment perfectly. Devon is at a bit of a crossroads in life and doesn’t realize it. She’s happy being average and not expecting too much – both when it comes to school and her love life. When Foster crashes into her life uninvited, Devon finds herself rethinking many things. Her future college plans, her relationship with Cas and the uncomfortable way Ezra makes her feel start to mess with Devon’s plan of not really having a plan.

This book is poignant in an unexpected way. First & Then is book about love but it is not a love story. That’s not to say there isn’t romance but it is not the focus of Devon’s story. Learning to cope with having a brother figure unexpectedly come into her life is not something Devon ever thought she would have to deal with. Foster is intense and seemingly vulnerable. Having him in her life makes Devon reassess herself. And then there’s Ezra, talented footballer who is everything Devon isn’t. He is focused to the point of single mindedness. Everything in his life is dedicated to the future he has planned for himself. He makes Devon think about things differently and work out what she really wants in life.

Argh…. Have you ever tried to write a review and realize that nothing is coming out the way you want it to?

I want to say I loved this book. It was one of those books which had my heart hurting at times because of how much it made me feel. For a lot of this book I felt like I was right there with Devon because once upon a time I WAS Devon. I had no idea about college except that was what I was supposed to do next. Which college and studying what really didn’t matter right then. And the almost pathetic way she follows alongside Cas? Oh yes – that was me too. Being a boy’s best girl friend isn’t easy when the feelings are unrequited. And I think that’s why I’m having so much trouble reviewing this book.

I loved how familiar it was. How I knew what she was feeling. How much it makes me feel better about not being the only one who feels so clueless about life sometimes.

But also because Devon isn’t me. She has her own life and problems yet for aforementioned reasons – she’s perfectly relatable. I loved reading this book. I loved the love Devon found – for Foster, for the boy she was meant to be with, but most of all for the love she found for herself.

First & Then has a lot for anyone who enjoys contemporary coming of age stories. It’s funny and unpredictable at times with relatable characters and interesting viewpoints. It explores changing relationships and coming to terms with life and the complexities of growing up. Mills’ writing is strong and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next. I may have never heard of her before or her youtube channel (How to Adult) but I’m so glad First &Then found its way onto my to-read pile.


First & Then in five words: Honest, humorous, heartfelt and entertaining.



  1. Ohh, how I loved this book as well Kate! It was adorably cute but had so much heart and depth as well. I think we’ve all been a Devon at one point in our lives, that uncertainty of what to do when we finish school, that feeling of being lost and trying to claw your way back. I loved how her relationship with Foster blossomed as well, it was so lovely and I’m glad they got there in the end because I had my doubts. I’m thrilled you loved this too Kate and wonderful review! Totally stoked to see you back blogging as well <3 <3

    • Yay another fan! I think I would have been devastated if they hadn’t gotten there in the end. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic – and that doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. I’m all about people getting together in the end be it in a friend capacity or something more. Sad, complex, more realistic endings just break my heart. I’m glad to be back! Thanks Kelly <33

  2. Great review – so glad you liked it! I finally got a copy of this through a book trade, and I’m so excited to read it! I’ve seen so many reviews for it and it seems like some people either love it or they don’t – but after reading your review I’m pretty sure I’m going to be obsessed with it!

    Also, I know exactly how you feel when you want to review a book and the right words won’t come out…I had that feeling when reviewing The Museum of Heartbreak the other day!

    • I’ve not read The Museum of Heartbreak. I’ll have to check it out.
      I have that problem more often than not. It’s like I know what I want to say but I’m nowhere near articulate enough to get it across. That said, I think I’m a bit more !!! and excited in my head. If I got all that down I think people would probably think I’m a bit too enthusiastic.
      I hope when you read First and Then you enjoy it as much as I did. I can see why people would be so polarised towards it. From my perspective, it just managed to capture that moment in my life perfectly despite not being the slightest bit applicable to me. Happy reading, Kelly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.