First & Then by Emma Mills | Teen Ink

First & Then by Emma Mills

August 13, 2015
By AWriterOfWords DIAMOND, Hamburg, New Jersey
AWriterOfWords DIAMOND, Hamburg, New Jersey
59 articles 13 photos 9 comments

What makes your life story unique? That’s the question that Devon Tennyson is puzzling with when trying to figure out what to write her college essay on. Her whole life has been ordinary, but the universe is about to change that. Unexpectedly, her cousin Foster comes to live with her and suddenly she’s no longer just a face in the crowd as she becomes close with the star quarterback, Ezra. But how will the new change make her stand out from a college admissions perspective?


First & Then by Emma Mills is an ordinary book. I mean that in the best manner possible because there are no abstract superpowers or fantasy but it is completely realistic. The writing is captivating and draws the reader in making each page flip faster than the one before it. Despite revolving around high school, it’s a unique perspective and not cliché.


One aspect that the book discusses frequently is Jane Austen. You do not have to be a fan of Jane Austen but hearing how captivating the books are to Devon, you may find yourself wanting to read the Classics and enjoying yourself! Even if you have never read a Jane Austen book, it is easily explained within the novel and there is no outside information needed.


I wish that the novel came full-circle. In the beginning, it discusses the importance of a college essay about yourself which sets the pace for Devon to explore other options to become a more desirable college applicant. I think a more powerful ending would discuss what topic she chose based on the experiences she has throughout the novel. Although the ending was satisfying I wish it addressed the original problem in the novel.


I think First & Then by Emma Mills is a quick and cute story that is great for any teenager. It has aspects that are realistic for any teenager- college admissions, friendships, Homecoming. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, but I definitely recommend giving it a try! You may find yourself being able to finish it in just one sitting because of how intriguing it is!


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