I Loved You First
Reena Jacobs; Paperback, 212 pages
Published July 29th 2011 by Reena Jacobs
Source: ARC from the author
My best friend was more than just a best friend to me. Three words summed it up: I heart him. I’d never tell him though. I wasn’t stupid. Besides, what he’d told no one, but me, was a little something I wished I could forget… or ignore. He was gay. I guess gay wouldn’t be bad if I wasn’t so in love with him. Now it was just cruel.
Stereotypes run amok in this college love story: Parties, alcohol, hookups, and breakups. Alexandria Carmichael may find it a bit much as she deals with the unreturned love from the boy who completes her. When all is revealed, not only does she risk losing her best friend forever, but also herself. Without her childhood companion for support, Alexandria takes a journey of self-discovery but fears what she’ll find at the end.– Goodreads blurb
Ok, wow!! On all accounts, wow. I dunno where to begin with my fangirlism! xDDD
First things first, I applaud the brave plot the author developed, and I will say I especially applaud her end notes of the novel (at least the way I read them in the ARC), and I cannot speak highly enough of her thoughts and considerations on the topic of the relationship between some Christians and the LGBT community. I subscribe the her points of view and fervently support them. Now, on to the novel itself.
I was totally hooked from the first few words of this read, and I was hooked the whole way through. Which is not to say I was 100% in accord with the choices of the characters, for instance, but I got their reasons for doing this and that, it all felt really believable and at times enlightening even. Another aspect that I really loved was the diversity of the characters, both in outer and inner form.
Alex was a sweetheart in that original, quirky way that I always love. I felt like she was kiddish in her shyness and in her devotion to Seth, and the BFF/crush syndrome as I call it is something I’ve personally seen happen basically each and every time I had a guy BFF, so it was really interesting to see it from the other side of the fence, so to speak. Of course, here the syndrome is an especially heart-wrenching situation because Seth is clearly never going to be likely boyfriend material for Alex, so it’s certainly a hopeless situation that Alex somehow seems keen to bury herself in. Her crush borders on obsession, in my opinion, it’s surely in the rather strange sector of the field. But again, I’ve seen this happen live, this obsessive focus on one sole person as if truly there is nothing else out there in the whole wide world – and from what I’ve seen it never brings anything but suffering, aggravation and drama.
But I loved the fact that, unlike the person I know of, Alex broke out of her own vicious circle and grew up, matured, and finally found the resources to focus on herself and her own wellbeing by her own actions and not delegating that to someone else.
My heart went out to Seth, thought he acted like a prick on a few occasions, blowing up in Alex’s face just because she was there (that’s how it seemed to me). A few times I got this sense that he was mainly capitalizing on her obsession and not being close to her as a friend; these unhealthy connections are generally alimented from both sides, in my experience, and such was the case here. Though aware of Alex’s true feelings, he kept her close by and didn’t mind using her as a bit of a front to get close to that sorry excuse of a guy he had a crush on. Did I blame him an awful lot? Well, he was going through a huge inner conflict, so his lashing outs didn’t come as a surprise to me. What did come as a surprise to me was Alex’s reactions to those lashing outs, I found myself wishing she’d develop more of a backbone sooner, faster.
I’ll say I felt disappointed by Seth’s reaction, to flee, but it was obvious he wasn’t coping with all the tension, inside him and surrounding him. So in the end I felt his choice was a good one, a more productive one. After finding his peace inside himself he’d be able to emerge from his shelter as a strong and complete, hopefully mature person.
His exit from the scene would also force Alex to remake herself into a whole person capable of standing up by herself and for herself, it seemed to me had he not made that decision she would have clung to him endlessly. Growing pains, all over.
Being a fan of angsty and dramatic stories, this is right up my alley. The writing is really good, fresh, it keeps you engaged 100% throughout and the characters were really well built and memorable through both their qualities and their faults – yet another aspect of their realism.
So all in all, I say you should definitely give this a try, it’s a realistic, interesting, courageous YA novel about growing pains, diversity and coping with it all. A beautiful read.