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 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 own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
Mercedes Ayres is in the business of taking boys' virginity, "helping" them get through their first times having sex so that their girlfriends can enjoy the benefits. She keeps these encounters secret from everyone in her life, maintaining the appearance of a quiet chemistry whiz at school. What started off as something supposedly empowering quickly devolves into a destructive habit Mercedes can't seem to break. As the list of boys Mercedes has slept with tops 10 and keeps going, her certainty in the value of what she's doing is shaken, and word gets out at school that Mercedes is easy something that takes quite a bit longer to happen than seems likely. Debut author Flynn raises worthwhile questions about teenage sexuality and perceived promiscuity, but while Mercedes's many sexual encounters aren't described in gratuitous detail, the story veers into sensationalism halfway in and never quite recovers. The novel eventually gets around to exploring the events that have shaped Mercedes's attitude toward sex, but more often it seems to be reveling in the drama of it all. Ages 14 up.