When Calli’s mother insists she takes a riding class with twelve-year-old boys, the seventeen-year-old isn’t happy, until she meets the instructor. A former Olympic equestrian athlete from Ireland, Justine steals Calli’s breath. And when she’s looking for a place to stay and Calli’s parents offer her brother’s room, all sorts of dreams come true. Until life interferes and the young women get separated for many years.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. The narration was pretty good, even with the foreign accents. I’m always rather tough on French accents and Lucy Emerson’s was okay, but do the French really not know about dirty martinis? I had never before heard of vodka with olives. Then again, I don’t drink cocktails… And is going to the Louvre such a big event when you’re staying in Versailles? I mean, yes, the Louvre is wonderful, but why does it sound like Calli wouldn’t have found her way there without Justine? Didn’t anyone tell her about the RER?
I know these remarks aren’t very important and they probably wouldn’t have stuck with me if I had been carried away by the story. I felt the book stayed on the surface of things for more than half of it. I never really connected with the characters and didn’t find them very likeable. At first, I was surprised by both young women’s immaturity (Justine is twenty-one at the beginning, so not a teenager anymore, a young woman with a job, far from home). I quite liked the chemistry between them, and that’s something that stayed until the end. Far from being a sweet romance about two young women and their first love, this novel is really about Calli’s journey to get over this very powerful first love.
Most reviews are very positive so it’s probably just that this book isn’t for me. The First Love is a debut novel, and as such, it’s promising.