ARC Review – First Came Us by Rachel Cullen

Title: First Came Us

Author: Rachel Cullen

Date of Publication: 5 February 2020

Genre: Contemporary

Number of Pages: 316

First Came Us CoverSummary: From Goodreads: Jack and Ellie Miller have been happily married for eighteen years and lead a perfectly ordinary life with their three children in an idyllic Connecticut town. Jack is an economics professor at Yale and Ellie owns a thriving yoga studio. Although day-to-day life isn’t always carefree, they exist in a world where carpools, soccer games, and bedtimes are their biggest concerns.

However, all good things must come to an end. The Millers’ picture-perfect life gets turned upside down when Jack gets an unwelcome visit from a ghost from his past, their sixteen-year-old daughter Sydney decides to let down her hair and trade her backpack for a six-pack, and Ellie gets shocking news that requires immediate action.

Jack and Ellie can barely pull themselves away from these unexpected challenges long enough to notice that Sydney is careening downward in her own dangerous spiral; but they need to find a way to overcome their issues if they want to save their daughter and their marriage.”

Review: I received an advanced copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

First Came Us follows Ellie and Jack Miller and their teenage daughter Sydney. Ellie owns a yoga studio that’s finally starting to turn a profit, Jack is a renowned economics professor at Yale, and Sydney is a straight-A student. They live a relatively normal life until Ellie’s pregnancy test comes back positive, an 18-year-old girl shows up at Jack’s office claiming to be his daughter, and Sydney gets caught up in a secret relationship built on lies with a college boy.

One thing that I liked about this book was the different points of view. My favourite character and point of view was Ellie. I liked that the reader got to see the struggle behind having three children, running her own business, her personal problems, and trying to keep up the charade that everything is picture-perfect. For the most part, I liked Jack, but I did get frustrated with him at times for his lack of honesty and his cluelessness. I really wasn’t a huge fan of Sydney, but that’s because I find that recently I’ve had a difficult time relating to teenagers and their teenage problems.

One thing that annoyed me about this book is that there was so much dishonesty. I found myself wanting to yell at the characters a few times because they were lying, or they weren’t forthcoming with information. I understand that these lies helped fuel the plot and that without them, there wouldn’t be much of a story, but I still found it frustrating. Overall, this book was a reminder that honesty is the best policy and that it helps prevent a lot of major misunderstandings.

My favourite storyline in this book was the relationship between Ellie and Dorothy. Dorothy is an older woman who attends yoga classes at Ellie’s studio, and Ellie takes a special interest in her and her wellbeing. I thought that their relationship was special, and I loved how it helped lead to such a happy ending for the Miller family.

Another thing that annoyed me about this book is the amount of commentary about Ellie’s body. It felt like I was constantly reminded that Ellie was petite and skinny. I understand that part of it was because Ellie didn’t want anyone to know that she was pregnant and that Sydney had self-esteem issues, but I got annoyed with it quickly.

Overall, I liked First Came Us, but I didn’t love it. At times, it felt like it was a bit all over the place, and like there was too much going on. I liked the majority of the characters, and my issues with Sydney stem from a general lack of patience with teenagers. I liked that this book showed a family that wasn’t picture perfect and that was struggling to juggle everything that was going on. I recommend checking out this book if you’re looking for something quick with an ending that will make you smile.

Rating: 3.5 Stars!

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