Both do a great job at exploring the difficult time of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. They both also explore difficult topics with a lighter touch – which didn’t quite work for me. They seemed more intent on squeezing their romance into the Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth/Darcy mold rather than addressing some of the weightier issues they brought up.
But here are my quick thoughts and you decide for yourself if they might work better for you…
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. ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC provided by publisher via BEA15
My thoughts: First & Then was a book I devoured in three hours. It was a light, fluffy read that brought back a lot of those awkward teenage feelings from high school. Devon is average – no great skills, or interests (other than reading and comparing her life to P&P) and that’s something I could really relate to. She’s juggling an unrequited crush on her best friend, a cousin who she feels protective over, even though he puts her firmly in the uncool camp because of his childlike enthusiasm, and decisions about her future.
There’s no big dramatic story arc and the side characters are never developed enough for you to feel overly invested in the outcome despite the heavier topics it skirts around- and Foster pretty much steals the show - but I liked First & Then despite the flaws.
In A Step Toward Falling, Cammie McGovern tells a poignant, compelling story of not judging people on appearances and knowing how to fix the things you've broken.
Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing - until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.
Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they're starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most? ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via BEA15
My thoughts: This was another good book that explored the responsibilities and decisions that mark the transition into adulthood. I also love how McGovern writes people with disabilities as fully fleshed out characters with hopes, dreams and sexuality. (As she also did in her debut novel, Say What You Will). If A Step Towards Falling was just about that it would have worked better for me.
Emily and Lucas are assigned to community service at a center for people with disabilities after witnessing and attack on a girl with developmental disabilities that they did nothing to stop. The story is told from both Emily (one of the witnesses) and Belinda (the girl who was attacked).
As much as I may have liked the individual storylines - like the romance, the volunteering - I had a problem with turning something as serious as rape, into a lighter story so that the leads could find romance! and put on a play! It’s not that any of that is wrong or even unrealistic but it was so weird to just gloss over something like that and then think a rousing rendition of Pride and Prejudice will be just the thing to put things right.