I Loved You First

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Alexandria (Alex) Carmichael guards two secrets close to her heart. One—she’s in love with her best friend, Seth. Two—he’s gay. More

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Published: July 29, 2011
Words: 41,540
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465826169
About Reena Jacobs

Reena Jacobs is just your typical writer who loves to see her words in print. As an avid reader, she’s known to hoard books and begs her husband regularly for “just one more purchase.” Her home life is filled with days chasing her preschooler and nights harassing her husband. Between it all, she squeezes in time for writing and growling at the dog.

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Reviews

Review by: Barbara Walker on Aug. 11, 2012 : star star star star
Alex and Seth have been best friends since childhood, when she rescued him from bullies. Now they’re older and in college and Alex’s feelings for Seth have changed. She’s gone from loving him to being in love and would even settle for being a part of his active rotation of dates, but they’re all a front and she knows it. He’s gay and there’s no way he’ll love her the way she wants, as much as she wishes for it.

Seth is one of those pretty golden boys who girls flock to and other guys can have whole conversations with just by way of fist bumps and jock talk over beer. Alex has been floating in his orbit, content to be the one he tells his secrets to, even if it means she’s also relegated to the role of his tagalong, designated driver and wallflower. Seth has developed a crush on a football player and it’s dangerous – coming out would be the end of the world for him, so he grabs yet another vapid cheerleader to date, leading Alex to start pushing the bounds of their friendship.

I Loved You First is a pretty timeless story at its heart: girl loves boy, boy doesn’t return her feelings, girl sets out to find herself. Jacobs does a fine job adding in contemporary themes, although I’m worried about the exclusion of some things (more on that later).

It’s never shown why Alex is so dependent on Seth, how it happened, if he encouraged it or what. She’s generally deferential to him, and I had mixed feelings about whether I should hold it against him or not. Seth’s crush for the football player is revealed at a fraternity party and after he’s beaten up, his relationship with Alex changes drastically. He really starts treating her awfully, hot and cold, but by then, I pitied him (this is also the “more on that later”).

Alex was frustrating, irritating, confusing and I wanted to give her a hug most of the time, at least when I didn’t want to elbow her in the side. Her narrative voice repeated things that bothered me sometimes and I’m not sure if it was meant to tell me that it was something she obsessed about or what. She thought frequently about heights (hers and other people’s) and the size and food consumption of the football player that she revenge-dated. I liked that she was self-aware of how much she was living in Seth’s shadow even as she kept stepping back in it and that she’d force herself to move out again even if it was doing something not particularly bright. Even when Seth didn’t want her as his friend, she stood by him, even when it could have hurt her own reputation and lost her new friends which she was brave enough to go make on her own. On the other hand, I think she let him down big time with what she didn’t do for him. Which leads me to the “more on that later.”

For the obvious reasons when a professional hears someone stating that they’re going to commit suicide, they’re bound to do something. Alex is no professional, Seth obviously didn’t want anything done and I don’t want to spoil things – that’s not what I’m trying to do. But I didn’t like the message that what could have been a very serious suicide attempt was averted and Seth’s best friend did nothing. Risking my very best friendship, I would have done something. Forced him to call a professional, stood over him while he called a hotline, hauled his ass down to the campus health center in the morning to get him to talk to someone, called his parents if it came down to it. I’d love my friend enough to risk losing it all to save him. That, combined with Seth’s ultimate decision at the end just felt a little safe to me. The story was good and the characters were strong enough to take the hard road and maybe a rougher ending, I thought.

Who knew, me not demanding a hearts and flowers ending!?

None of the characters in the story were painted in black and white, not even the homophobic football players who were meant to be pitied. In the end, I was sad for many of the characters: the bigoted bullies, Seth for having had to live in shame and fear when it wasn’t necessary and Alex for having lost too much of herself in him for too long. There was also happiness – Alex had a wonderful new friend and saw that there was an Alex beyond Seth. It seemed a little melancholic though because of the way it got there.

I couldn’t stop reading once I started, having to follow all of these flawed, compelling people on their journey.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kimberly (Sliced Open Reviews) on Aug. 08, 2012 : star star star star
Ok I loved the synop for this book, for me it’s all about the relationship that is totally unrealistic that drew me in. Beyond that I really didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with how much beyond just that aspect of the book that totally kept me reading. This is a true must read for our generation. It’s a powerful story of love and overcoming. More importantly it’s a story of hate and angst. Hate. Hate is such a strong thing and there were parts of this book (that I will not spoil) that made my stomach turn. I actually had to stop reading at one point. It is not overly graphic, but I have a special place in my hate bucket for intolerance and there are some displays of that within the pages of this book. Intolerance is shown in so many different ways in this day in age and it’s nice to read something that shows both sides of that. The side of being the bigger person and the small feeble people who openly hate.

Things I liked? Again, loved the whole plot foundation, if there is anything that hands down this book did for me was swept me away within the story. I was not always overly connected to the characters but the story and message rang much to loud to get caught up in that. As I continued through the book actually came to be connected with some of the characters that I had written off and that states a lot for the power of the writing. One thing that left be a bit open on was the end. While I feel it (and even more after reading the Afterwards) and get why it ended where it did, I still felt that maybe there is still some more left to Alex’s story. But, this is also where we as readers have to remember that while every one’s story continues we cannot always keep spying!

I also have to give mention to Reena’s Afterwards. I’m always reading the THANKS and Afterwords sections within books (and if you don’t you are missing some great insight into the author, story development and witty humor). Reena did an excellent job within the Afterwards of giving an evaluation as to where in her heart this story developed from and it really helped me to further connect to her the Author as well as the story.

Overall – again, in my opinion this is a true must read for our generation and I would recommend this quick emotion-filled read to any of my followers!

Review by SlicedOpenReviews(dot)com
Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Victoria H. Smith on June 28, 2012 : star star star star
I enjoyed this one and read it very quickly. The writing is stellar and the story is moving. It's interesting to see a girl love someone in a way she could never be loved. My heart went out to her and found myself intrigued by her journey for independence the entire way.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: iri on June 26, 2012 : star star star star
I admit that I was a bit reticent at first to try this book because the topic isn’t my cup of tea, I was unsure. Now I can say that I don’t regret reading this story. Reena Jacobs wrote moving picture of the troubles adolescent can go through. It’s remarkably well done. I could sympathise with Alex and I loved how she is mentally growing at the end of the book. She has learned that she must first and foremost love herself and that you must always be true to your feeling if you don’t want to hurt someone else or/and end hurting too.

It a story about acceptance, friendship and true-shelf that could be really helpful to some young ones that are feeling alone or too different one that reminded me something I’ve read a long time ago and that says that loving someone if to offer him/her the best gift: us but if we really love him/her and want the gift to be real we must first love ourselves because giving something we don’t like isn’t a real present.

Alex didn’t know at first what she was really doing to his friend and what their relation was making her loose; She knew what he was doing wrong but she didn’t see she wasn’t helping either. I think that in the end the book they are better friend to each other than ever because they finally learn what that means.

Really a good novel.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Leanne Bell on Nov. 02, 2011 : star star star star
First of all I'd like to say a big thanks to Reena for asking me to review her book and also for asking me to take part in her up-coming blog tour, it's always amazing to be asked to take part in these events.
I have to say, I loved this book and although it's a novella and quite short it tackles a very important issue and with sensitivity, care and has just as much impact as a full length novel would have.

Alex has just started college along with her best friend Seth who she has known since they were at school together. Things are pretty much going OK apart from two things. Number one, Alex is in love with Seth and number two, Seth is gay and only Alex knows about it. As all is revealed Alex faces some tough times and choices as she risks losing both her best friend and the person she loves.

To an outsider reading this review it may appear a bit odd that a straight girl is in love with a guy she knows is gay. But for anyone who's ever been in love you'll know how irrational love can actually be and regardless of the circumstances, you can't help who you fall in love with and in what circumstances.
I can't write an in-depth review without posting spoilers accidentally but what I can tell you is that this is a wonderful story of self-discovery, honesty and learning to love yourself.

I have to admit, I did not envy either Alex or Seth, especially towards the half-way point of the story when they both faced some truly difficult times. Alex is in every way the sidekick to Seth's stronger character and it was wonderful to see things change as the story progressed and as Seth also changed and adapted (I have to admit I was furious with both him and Alex on several occasions because of some of the things that happened). As someone who has and had both Gay and Bi friends, I found some of the characters attitudes to being gay absolutely horrifying, some people are so judgemental it's unbelievable and we see some extreme reactions in this novel with some extreme consequences.

Other characters play a major part in this novel, in both good and bad ways including Dink, who I still haven't made my mind up about, and Trinity, who is just simply awesome in every way. I think if I were to have any of these characters as a friend, it would be Trinity. Even Cheyenne who, to put it mildly, is not my favourite person plays a part in things being different towards the end and the scene with her and Trinity had me doubled up laughing.

As I've previously said, this is a short novella but it's impactful. I'd recommend this book for Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Curious and everyone else in the world really. Reena tackles some difficult issues in this novel and although this is not a heavy read, it will make you think.
In short, this is a stunning book with lessons to be learned in both loving yourself, loving others, being true to yourself and breaking free and with an ending I'm sure most readers will love.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kavyen on Oct. 16, 2011 : star star star star
Alex and Seth have been friends since childhood. Alex knows no other way of living life other than being with Seth. He is not just her best friend but also the love of her life. But unfortunately, he has a secret that only Alex is aware off and it is this secret that will stop them from being together as a couple.


Alex's unrequited love for Seth (specially because of all that he puts her through) and Seth's attempts to keep his secret in the closet are both heartbreaking. Seth plays with people's emotions by dating women and then dumping them. In the beginning it was obvious that he was my least favorite character because of the inconsiderate ways he treated Alex and others. But as the story progresses my sympathies were with him for the rebuke he faces based on his sexual preferences.

The story is told from the point of view of Alex, but the author still manages to capture every person's emotions diligently. With cheerleaders, sportsmen, parties, campus life, friendship, love and everything else that you would expect from a college life; this book brings a lot of realism. The secondary characters were a saving grace, I loved Trinity's maturity and felt that she was the best influence on Alex. I wished Trinity and Dink were introduced much earlier.

Rated a 4 on 5 for taking such a delicate topic such as LGBT relationships and showcasing the social problems associated with it in a light manner.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kavyen on Oct. 16, 2011 : star star star star
Alex and Seth have been friends since childhood. Alex knows no other way of living life other than being with Seth. He is not just her best friend but also the love of her life. But unfortunately, he has a secret that only Alex is aware off and it is this secret that will stop them from being together as a couple.

Alex's unrequited love for Seth (specially because of all that he puts her through) and Seth's attempts to keep his secret in the closet are both heartbreaking. Seth plays with people's emotions by dating women and then dumping them. In the beginning it was obvious that he was my least favorite character because of the inconsiderate ways he treated Alex and others. But as the story progresses my sympathies were with him for the rebuke he faces based on his sexual preferences.

The story is told from the point of view of Alex, but the author still manages to capture every person's emotions diligently. With cheerleaders, sportsmen, parties, campus life, friendship, love and everything else that you would expect from a college life; this book brings a lot of realism. The secondary characters were a saving grace, I loved Trinity's maturity and felt that she was the best influence on Alex. I wished Trinity and Dink were introduced much earlier.

Rated a 4 on 5 for taking such a delicate topic such as LGBT relationships and showcasing the social problems associated with it in a light manner.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Donna McBroom-Theriot on Sep. 28, 2011 : star star star star star
I Loved You First was a beautiful book about unconditional friendship between a boy and girl, although Seth seemed to be a little more self-centered than Alex. He was the drama queen of the relationship. The book aptly depicted how some friendships keep you confined in a very small place, never allowing “you” to be “you”.
Seth was, plain and simple – a drama queen. He came across as self-centered person caught up in his masquerade, seeming not to notice that he was suffocating the one person who cared the most for him.
Alex, devoted in every way to her BFF, Seth, did not mind being Seth’s sidekick until college. After a football/frat boy begins paying attention to her and telling her that she is noticed. She cannot appreciate the attention because she is love with Seth, her gay friend. Alex begins to want the individualism she has denied herself through the years. She begins to explore dating and realizes that she enjoys the male attention.
Alex also befriends a girl from one of her classes. Seth has consumed her world and this is all new to her – as many young adults figure out once they begin college.
College is a time of discovery, a transition time from childhood into adulthood. It is a time where we discover who we are; a time when new friendships are forged and we begin to blossom into the adults we are meant to become. The book was a good depiction of college life and the growing pains and changes that we go through. It was a good story and I think many people will enjoy the book.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: aobibliophile on Sep. 09, 2011 : star star star star
We have been friends together In sunshine and in shade. - Caroline Sheridan Norton



Alexandria Carmichael and her BFF Seth have known each other since first grade. Alex, though, has fallen in love with Seth over the years and secretly pines for him. it would have been less complicated or perhaps simpler for her to deal with her feelings if Seth were not gay but he is.
author Reena Jacobs has written a beautiful and bittersweet young adult coming-of-age story that deals with friendship, love, bigotry and self-discovery. set in a college campus, it introduces the reader to football jocks, campus queens and slices of academic and dormitory life. the characters are well fleshed out and the language is fresh and contemporary. situations and emotions echo humor and pathos which readers can relate to regardless of sexual preference, race and even religious affiliation.
Alex's unrequited love and Seth's attempts to "stay in the closet" bring drama and conflict which caught my attention from the story's beginning to its unexpected conclusion.
overall, this is a wonderful book about people falling in love and finding themselves a place in the world where they could grow, be happy and simply be free.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Sandra on Aug. 28, 2011 : star star star
Alexandria and Seth have been friends since they were kids and now they're off to their first year of college together. It should be a happy time for both of them but there's a problem - Seth is gay and trying to stay in the closest, and Alex is hopelessly in love with him. I Loved You First is the story of how Alex deals with that.

I don't understand unrequited love at all, probably because I never experienced it. If I liked a guy growing up and he didn't like me back, I got over it and moved on pretty quick. What I especially don't understand is Alex's unrequited love for Seth. She thought that he was awesome, but why couldn't friendship be enough for her? It's not like he was going to have a serious relationship with another woman. That bothered me about this novella, but I admit that maybe I just don't understand because I haven't been there.

What was even more annoying was Seth himself. I can't tell you why without going into some spoilers about the ending, but he was whiny in general.

I will give the author this - I Loved You First was an extremely well written self-published novella. The characters were all developed equally, the plot flowed evenly, and there were no spelling or grammar errors. It wasn't a fast paced page-turner, but I kept clicking those pages to find out what would happen next, would Alex ever get over it?

The author's representation of college has been called stereotypical, but I thought it was pretty accurate (aside from the dormrooms.) Trying to find new friends at college can be hard; there is always that desire to get off campus; and college frat parties are obnoxious sometimes, especially when the brothers are so dense. It happens!

The afterword by the author caught me off guard. I thought she had done a great job in the novella showing that people need to have tolerance and understanding and her afterword came off as superfluous and, unfortunately, preachy. If you read the book, skip the afterword.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Shandy Jo on Aug. 27, 2011 : star star star
his seemed like an interesting concept for a book. It was definitely something I hadn't seen before. Basically Seth and Alex (Alexandria) have been best buds since first grade. Alex loves Seth but Seth is gay and only loves Alex as a friend, maybe little sister.
In the beginning of this book I didn't like either character, I found them both whiny and total drama queens. Alex is so wrapped up in being friends with Seth that it's he everything. Seth is so wrapped up in his facade and poor me routine to notice anything else. I really didn't like him as a character, and didn't feel he redeemed himself either. Perhaps I'm not being sympathetic enough but they way he treated Alex some one who was by his side defending him, it just pissed me off. Alex on the other hand grew on me as the story progressed, when I saw she was actually starting to grow and mature as the book went on I came to like her a lot more.
I enjoyed the sections with the secondary characters as well, they offered some much needed smiles in the book breaking the tension. I was actually routing for Dink, hoping him and Alex could get a happy for now ending. But the ending I did get was satisfying and didn't leave you hanging which added points.
I felt the story was decent yet I'm not sure it's for everybody. I feel it's a good story about a young women coming into her own. Yet felt other parts weren't as well done as they could have been. Over all I guess I'd have to say judge for yourself, as I think the perception of this book will change with the people who read it.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Shirley Deeds on Aug. 15, 2011 : star star star star star
I first found out about I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs from a fellow book blogger - aobibliosphere
aobibliosphere
The description enticed me and after reading the first chapter I was totally hooked.
The story centers around two college freshmen who have been best friends since elementary school, Alex and Seth. Alex is the only person in the world who knows Seth has a secret. Seth is gay and doesn't want anyone to know. Alex has no problem keeping the secret, the only problem is he's not only her best friend, she's also in love with him.
You can see the problems facing these two characters. That's the premise that drew me to this book. I had no idea how far the book would draw me in once I started. Once I began, I couldn't stop. I started reading and finished in one evening. Not sure exactly how long it is page wise because I read it on my Kindle, but the length doesn't matter. The depth of feeling you get from these characters is what's important. And boy is there depth.
I have read books that have made me tear up a little, but there were parts of this story that made me actually cry. Granted, it was late and I was tired, but I think if I would have read this book in the middle of the afternoon my reaction would have been the same.
This book deals with prejudice, family, friendship, loyalty and love and holds nothing back. Reena does a wonderful job of bringing all these emotions to the forefront. The story is told from Alex's point of view, but you have no problem at all sensing the emotions of the other characters as well. The aspect of gay prejudice is handled wonderfully, but it goes even deeper than that. It is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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