I realize it’s been a month since my last post. I’ve been busy with work and family, but finally got the chance to read a novel. This one is written by Emma Mills, also known as Elmify on her YouTube channel.

First & Then is the story of Devon Tennyson, a senior in high school who has no plans for her future and prefers life in the status quo. But that changes when her younger cousin Foster comes to live with her family. A former only child, Devon finds herself learning important life lessons that come with having a new addition in her family, and it triggers her thoughts for her future, friends and how people’s livesĀ are shaped by certain events.

Devon reminded me a lot of myself in high school. She doesn’t seem to belong to one particular clique, interacting with the popular girls, sports players, smart students and so on. I never considered myself part of any one group, and knew a lot of people through extracurricular activities.

I liked the message that family is family, no matter what. Despite Foster biologically being Devon’s cousin, he still considers her his sister, and she thinks of him as her brother. Mills chose to focus on the relationship between cousins, a nice change from the common sibling-to-sibling, parent-to-child, or stepfamily dynamics seen in a lot of other books.

I look forward to reading Emma’s other books.