Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review: I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs

I Loved You FirstTitle: I Loved You First
Author: Reena Jacobs
Format: Paperback
Pages: 212 pages

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"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."

My Review:

Alex and Seth have been best friends since primary school, when Alex saved Seth from being bullied. Ever since then, Alex has been Seth’s shadow and sidekick, fighting his battles for him and being his rock of support. All that while, Alex has silently yearned for Seth’s attention and love- as more than a friend. Unfortunately, Seth has confessed to Alex that he is gay. So, she sits silently by while he parades girl after girl before her to maintain his popular image and not let anyone know that he’s gay. Being a player on the university’s baseball team, and possessing extremely good looks, makes Seth quite a catch and very popular. He cannot risk losing face before his teammates and fellow students. So, Alex doesn’t say a word about it and doesn’t push him to come out of the closet. What she does try to make him do, is use her as his fake girlfriend so that it could serve them both- her by being able to be physically intimate with him (even if it’s just an act) and him by appearing to be straight. Of course, Alex doesn’t know for sure that Seth is entirely unaware of her attraction to him. That’s something I found a little frustrating- although Seth hinted that he knew of Alex’s feelings for him, they never just brought it out into the open and discussed it.

After Seth exposes his attraction to a jock friend at a campus party, he is beaten and rushed to hospital. After this unintended falling out of the closet, Seth is no longer himself and distances himself from Alex. Alex is left all alone without her best friend as he had formed the centre of her existence for as long as she can remember. However, she has an opportunity to broaden her horizons and make new friends when Dink arrives. Dink is the friend of Bruce, the jock Seth had a crush on and Dink had invited Alex to the party at his fraternity house. So when Seth needs to be rushed to the hospital, Dink steps in and takes charge, sitting through the ordeal with Alex. I thought Dink was so sweet and, although Alex tried to give him a chance by going out with him, I hated that she judged him by the way he ate and how big he was compared to her. All of that just seemed so petty next to his nicenesss. But I guess when you’re in love with someone else for most of your life, even sweeties like Dink aren’t good enough. Based on the descriptions of Dink in this book and the fact that he belonged to a fraternity, I imagined Dink looking a little like Beaver from the TV series, Greek.

Beaver from "Greek"

Another person who entered the picture and provided an opportunity for Alex to expand her social circle and get over Seth was Trinity, a friendly new girl on campus who instantly made Alex feel comfortable about an embarrassing experience in a previous lecture and soon became her pillar of strength. Trinity’ss character reminded me a little of Maya in Pretty Little Liars.

Maya from "Pretty Little Liars"

This book evoked a myriad of emotions for various reasons. My heart broke for Alex because she loved her childhood best friend who had grown up into quite a hunk. Unfortunately, she was left yearning for his attention as he used other girls to keep up the act and hide his secret. Of course, once the truth accidently slipped out, he was beaten for it and treated in a vastly different manner by people who had claimed to be his friends. Throughout it all, Alex remained his unfailing supporter but when he withdrew within himself and cut her off, she realised that she needed to stop living for him but start living for herself, by first starting to love herself. It was a simple, sweet message conveyed in this book and I’d definitely recommend that others pick it up in order to understand the social challenges faced by many of today’s youth who find themselves in similar situations.

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