First & Then – Emma Mills


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.


My heart! I loved this book. It was the kind where I couldn’t stop reading, but also desperately wanted to stow it away to savour it before it ended (seeing as I’m writing this review at nearly 5 am, I didn’t do a very good job of stowing it away).

I don’t know anything about football or Jane Austen (I know, terrible right?), yet somehow this book was entirely relatable. The truths were just so profound! And Devon bore an uncanny resemblance to my best friend. Seriously, they are the same person! Easy to talk to, witty, a little awkward, sometimes judgmental, but still endearing and magnetic (this is an observable fact). I also know a Lindsay, a Jordan, Cas for sure, and I’ve got a handful of Rachels… and then I realized that these characters were DESIGNED to be relatable, and I truly appreciated Emma Mills’s writing. These are people we know and stories we understand, because even the bizarre ones prove a point close to home.

I loved a lot of the adult figures in this book as well. There’s nothing quite like the LOVE expressed through sheer worry from Devon’s parents. There’s something great about teachers like Mrs. Wentworth (even though that name gives me horrid flashbacks to a corporate case of the same name), who come to support you and help you realize what you need. There’s something to be said about how gratifying and impactful MENTORSHIP is, from both ends.

Every part of this book had a reason of being there (raison d’être in the most superficial way?). I appreciated seeing past sections come back in meaningful ways. Not sure if I read into this too much, but discussing the illusion of opulence in The Great Gatsby, only to have it manifest in real life (seriously, there was even a “dying in the pool” scene) was a beautiful and brilliant thing.

It’s books like these that make you feel a heightened sense of appreciation for life and the world we live in. Not because the book is anything sad or tragic, but instead because it is wonderful and bright.

Related Reading

  • Catching Jordan – Miranda Kenneally
  • Last Year’s Mistake – Gina Ciocca
  • Bright Before Sunrise – Tiffany Schmidt
  • I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

Rating: 5/5


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