Puppy love, first love, and unrequited love, all seem to be the central theme in I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs.
Alexandra (Alex) and Seth have been best friends since elementary school. They are now both freshmen in college. Alex's entire social life revolves around Seth and his needs. Although Seth has recently revealed to her that he is gay. She vacillates between understanding and accepting that her love will never be returned in a romantic fashion and thinking that she knows what is best for him . . . a relationship with her. She openly facilitates his "cover" as a straight guy by playing the third-wheel on dates. Alex is blind to all that is around her except Seth. It isn't until Seth's "straight" cover is blown and he openly flirts with a guy at a frat party that Alex even realizes that one of the frat brothers is interested in her.
Alex is not a likable character. Even accepting that I Loved You First is possibly a YA read, she comes across as extremely selfish and juvenile while trying to appear selfless in her devotion to Seth. When Seth becomes depressed about being unintentionally outed, Alex is more focused on her needs and thoughts than her BFF and so-called love interest. The level of immaturity of both Seth and Alex was hard to swallow at times. I Loved You First held great promise in that it discusses the difficulty some people feel and deal with while being different, whether that difference is based on ethnicity, religion or sexual preference. I wanted to like Seth because he knows he'll have to deal with the prejudices people have when confronted with homosexuality, especially in athletics. Perhaps I expected a little too much OR I'm simply out of touch with the variety of teenage personalities and behaviors, but I Loved You First didn't quite do it for me. Ms. Jacobs has provided a well-written story with fully developed characters but the level of immaturity was difficult for me to handle. Fortunately Alex and Seth do redeem themselves toward the end of the story, providing the reader with a promise of maturity and happier days ahead.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."