First & Then

272p. ebook available. Holt. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627792356.
Gr 8 Up—Devon Tennyson has always attended Friday night football games to watch Cas, her best friend and object of her affection. The only other thing Devon takes seriously is her love of Jane Austen's novels. She understands the world through Austen and happily aspires to Jane's biting wit. Devon's happy to avoid thinking about the future, but then her cousin Foster moves in. He's an oddball freshman and despite being a senior, Devon has to endure him in her gym class, in addition to having him in her home. The only other senior in the class is the school's Darcy-like All-American football star, Ezra Lynley. When a fluke reveals Foster's talent as a kicker, Devon finds herself spending more time than she'd like with both boys. The dynamic between Devon and Ezra isn't quite as prickly as Lizzie and Darcy's, but they have the requisite spats and misunderstandings that all opposites-attract couples must have. The frequent references to Austen may not resonate with some teens, but they will please budding Janeites, who will also find the familiar plot beats satisfying. As in the classics, Mills's debut gives equal attention to the heroine's familial and romantic relationships. However, Devon's growth isn't only relative to the males in her life; her development is related to but ultimately independent of Ezra, Foster, and Cas.
VERDICT Readers looking for an innocent romance with a relatable protagonist will enjoy this Austen-inspired work.

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