Ever wondered what it would be like to go back to being a teenager - but with the advantage of knowing everything you know now? In 'Do You Remember the First Time?', 32-year-old Flora gets the ultimate second chance. As her best friend Tashy cuts into her wedding cake, Flora, disenchanted with her safe but dull life (boring job, sensible boyfriend) makes a wish to be 16 again and the next day she wakes up to find that she's traded work for school, wrinkles for spots and a predictable future for the chance to do it all again but differently. However, life as a 16-year-old is not without its complications, which leaves Flora with a lot of soul-searching to do and important decisions to make.
Jenny Colgan has created a truly captivating scenario that is both heart-warming and hilarious with a wonderful central character. Flora's sheer delight and terror at being sixteen again is easy to identify with and the conflict of whether or not she should try to get back to being her older self is understandable. Although it's just as tough being sixteen the second time around, Flora does find herself in the position of being able to follow a totally different path and that would be hard to give up.
Although the plot might sound familiar - it's very close to the films 'Big' and '13 Going On 30', but in reverse - Colgan does it give it a different spin. For some unknown reason, only Flora and her parents have become younger and it's still 2004, so she hasn't gone back in time. Only Tashy, boyfriend Ollie and first love Clelland remember the elder Flora and recognise her sixteen-year-old self as being out of place so cue lots of laughs as she tries to cope with an existence she knows nothing about. Although we never find out how and why Flora's wish is granted, this leap of logic is worth taking.
With loads of cultural references, including a starring role for pop star Darius, and some real emotion, 'Do You Remember the First Time?' is a memorable read and a chick-lit book with heart, humour and originality. The only criticism is that you can't help but wish it didn't have such a predictable ending. However, we can't have everything and this is a modern day fairytale after all for the 16-year-old in all of us.