James Patterson and Emily Raymond
Little, Brown and Company, 2013
Audience: Older Teens
An extraordinary portrait of true love that will move anyone who has a first love story of their own. Axi Moore is a "good girl": She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn't tell anyone how all she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson--who she also happens to be madly in love with.
When Axi spontaneously invites Robinson to come with her on an impulsive cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life. But the adventure quickly turns from carefree to out of control after the teens find themselves on the run from the police. And when Robinson suddenly collapses, Axi has to face the truth that this trip might be his last.
Ugh, First Love was terrible. Honestly, I never would have chosen to read it in the first place. However, it was chosen for book club, and the leader of the book club left, so I needed to fill in for her. To me, it seemed like someone told James Patterson, “Write something for people who liked The Fault in Our Stars,” and the result was a watered-down ripoff of John Green’s book. Both books have travel, cancer and a young couple. However, the trip in First Love was super unrealistic. I was waiting for Axi to reveal that it was all a story that she was writing for Robinson, or a dream, or something. (For the record, this trip involves many illegal activities, including but not limited to truancy, stealing vehicles, hitchhiking and assaulting an officer.) Halfway through the trip, Robinson becomes deathly ill, so the characters change their plans and head to Robinson’s home town. (He was living in Axi’s town for treatment, and he convinced his parents to LEAVE HIM THERE. When he was incredibly ILL WITH CANCER. I don’t believe that would happen for a second.) I thought this would be a tearjerker (I cried through basically all of The Fault in Our Stars, but it was so ridiculous that I just skimmed the rest of the book and did not shed one tear.)
Overall, it should be good for discussion, because the less a group likes a book, the better the discussion usually is. Some people might like First Love, but it definitely was not my cup of tea.