Published by St. Martin’s Press, January 5th 2016, 320 pages, £7.59
Quick description: Contemporary YA, sexual awakening, teens with issues.
Plot: 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.
3 and a half stars.
This book started off making me feel a little queasy. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the plot and hesitated when I requested an ARC. I think I found it difficult understanding why a young woman (younger than me) would want to put herself in such a- not so much a vulnerable state- but an unlovable and most importantly, an unpleasurable position. I mean, Mercedes is voluntarily offering her body up and receiving no sexual gratification- or is she? Here comes the glitch as we enter some murky waters. To seek out virgin boyfriends and help them become better lovers is not the same an having an active and meaningless sex life. No one can be that charitable? Then I began to worry what I would feel like if I was the ‘girlfriend’ without a clue. But then I felt like I should embrace reading about all levels of female sexuality (I have strange hobbies).
After you get past the strange set-up Mercedes has going, the book becomes quite enjoyable and addictive. There are a lot of thrilling moments, like if she ever is going to get caught and what happens when her BFF’s BF is getting clued up. We see a lot of horrid flash backs and the disconnected relationship she has with her parents to realise that her issues are running deep. This sounds cliched, but the author has made the revelations quite subtle. Despite knowing its not quite right and vowing to stop- something is driving Mercedes (intended thanks) to agree to another de-flowering night. Is sex a way for her to build up power and independence? Or is it an addictive distraction? Maybe its both. Maybe she doesn’t quite know. But its worth joining her and her classmates on this ‘figuring-stuff-out’ stage.
On the whole, Mercedes is a likeable character. She has a very sensitive nature, despite her harsh reality. What I did notice is that, boys are not represented that well, they seem almost evil. Then again some of the girls seemed quite stupid. If you had a vague interest in Easy A then you would like this. This gets right to the heart of double-standards and all that mumbo-jumbo that young girls always have to deal with. It also addresses the pressure young men face- to have control, to be knowledgeable, to be a man. And if these firm gender types are loosened, then the recipients are dubbed as not normal and basically sub-human, if that’s what a slut or a wimp is. So yes, this book will get your attention, get your adrenaline going, will make your blood simmer for a while.
Thanks to SMP for my review copy xx