Kaye’s memoir Fifteen First Times reads like a conversation over a glass of wine with a bunch of besties. As I was reading, I could imagine the groans, laughter, and tender moments many women share in common as they navigate their teens and young adulthood—first kiss, first love, first car, a broken heart, the angst of menstruation, the first hair coloring disaster, and the first death that woke us up to the impermanence of life. Fifteen firsts.
I couldn’t relate to all of Kaye’s experiences. I never had a thing about shoes, for example, and didn’t have the privilege of travel, but I could relate very well to the journey of self-discovery, to struggles with self-esteem, and to finding a home within ourselves.
What struck me the most about Kaye’s recollections is how humor and a bold, flamboyant approach to life helped her overcome challenges and become the confident woman she is today. She ends the memoir by highlighting the importance of laughter in her life and in her relationship with her late husband. It’s a touching thread that connects her memories and heartfelt conclusion to her book of firsts. An entertaining two-hour read, highly recommended to fans of memoirs. (Kindle Unlimited.)
Lisa Thomson‘s review
Jan 04, 2023
it was amazing
A lovely essay style memoir, by D.G. Kaye. She shares fifteen of her poignant first experiences. Each one as touching as the next. Kaye makes herself vulnerable in sharing these very personal stories, including losing loved ones. My favorite were her stories of her trip to Europe as a teen. If you grew up in the 70’s you will doubly enjoy this book. Highly recommend!
‘Fifteen first times’ by author D.G. Kaye is a light, heartwarming read that will leave you reminiscing your own fifteen first times, sweet events you may have forgotten along the way as life took over and bitter ones that hurt you so much, that you buried deep inside of you- basically, all the experiences that made you into the person you currently are.
About the book
The 92 page book is like I said, a quick, easy read. The honesty and simplicity with which D.G.Kaye shares her story is both refreshing and endearing. Whether it be her first kiss, her first love, her first time behind the steering wheel, her first driving accident, her first Christmas tree or her first experience with losing a friend, the author bares it all in a way that touches the right cord.
The author touches upon her emotionally difficult relationship with her mother, the crazy diets that led her to becoming a size 4 and looking anorexic, ending the diet and going to a size 16, being closer to her maternal aunt than her mother but knowing she could never share too much with her aunt as in her words, ‘her aunt’s first allegiance would always be towards her elder sister.’ It’s clear from the book that the author’s father was the one constant in her life who loved her unconditionally. She shares incidents that will make you smile, for instance, the first time she buys a Christmas tree unaware of how big it will turn when it thaws, the time she decides to change her hair color on her own, or the time she drives a car under her’s father’s supervision.
The author’s lack of awareness when the ‘Crimson tide,’ hit her for the first time (you have to read the book to understand what that means) resonated with me completely. In my case, my mom was too shy I suppose to talk about it. So, also, her feelings towards her paternal grandfather how she needed to guard her self-esteem to become confident.
I found the bit about getting the Christmas tree, decorating it and finally disposing it was both hilarious and informative as we’ve only ever kept imitation trees at home. I had no idea how much of a hassle a real tree is until I read the book. The author’s experiences on a six-week student trip to Europe, a gift given to her by her dad, on her eighteenth birthday, was entertaining. The trip involved a journey to London, Israel, France, Italy and Switzerland. About packing for the trip, she says, ‘Oh, sure they sent me a packing list beforehand, but shorts, bathing suits (plural) and sneakers were definitely not occupying my suitcase. So, I traveled and toured everywhere, from museums to galleries to ruins, in my four-inch high heels. I kid you not.’ This was another experience I could relate to as I strutted to the highest point of Europe in Germany in high-heeled wedges and needed my little girls, then 7 and 9, to help me up and down the slope.
Who is this book for?
There are a lot of takeaways in this book. Like they say, ‘Why make the mistake when you can learn the lesson from someone else’s?’ This book is just that- read it, learn from the author’s experiences and either make the same mistake with wisdom or avoid making it.
This book is for girls – sixteen and older. I’ve already asked my girls, who are 18 and 20 respectively, to read the book. The young ones will definitely gain from reading this book, knowing that they are not alone when it comes to having insecurities, heartaches, poor self-esteem during their growing-up years. Some experiences may vary depending on the culture you come from but by and large, reading the book makes you realize that irrespective of where one is born or the color of one’s skin, every girl goes through these feelings at some point in life or another.
The book is also for older women too as it will help them relive their youth by bringing back memories and leave them feeling proud of how far they’ve come.
Reviewed by Stevie Turner, January 6th
I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
In this short but candid book the author D.G Kaye shares fifteen of her first times with us; from her first diet to her first menstrual period, her first high heels, her first love, and her first cigarette to name but a few. We also find out what happened when she decided to dye her hair red for the first time.
Reading through the pages, I was astounded that the author had never had any education from her mother as regards menstruation, and had bravely soldiered through the first three periods wondering what on earth was happening to her body. It was also sad how others perceived her as overweight, causing her to undertake diet after diet to achieve the ever-elusive size 6. I cheered her on though, when finally she moved into her own apartment for the first time and began to grow away from her mother’s influence.
D.G Kaye’s extrovert personality shines through the pages and obviously aided her in making new friends and forging an active social life in her twenties, but it would also be the first time she came face-to-face with the death of one of her friends rather than the passing of older relatives.
The above life trials (and more) have imbued the author with a kind of innate wisdom. She has no regrets, but through trial and error she now has the knowledge to favour a lifetime of healthy eating rather than a crash diet. She knows of the joy and pain of loving, and how death can claim the young as well as the old. She realises how addictive cigarettes can be. She has lived through all the experiences she has written about, has learned from them, and has important knowledge to pass down to a younger generation. However… will they listen?
I give this recommended read 5 stars.
My review for the book December 21st 2022 by Sally Cronin
The author has a natural conversational style of writing that draws you in as if she is talking to you personally. Her memories prompt the reader’s own experiences at similar ages, and raises a smile or two at the similarities between girls of a certain age, however many thousands of miles they live apart.
This is particularly true in this collection of stories as Kaye shares episodes from her childhood such as playing in her mother’s stiletto shoes which would fuel a lifetime’s love of footwear, a first kiss, and taking that first puff of a parent’s discarded cigarette.
With the smiles comes the tears, as we identify the moments of loneliness and isolation as a girl becomes a woman without the support needed from a mother, a dysfunctional family life, and the loss of a much loved friend who shared the formative years between teens and late twenties.
At the end of the collection is a wonderful tribute to her late husband, who made her laugh every day and was the first and last love of her life.
D.G. Kaye writes with poignancy but also great humour, which makes these first times all the more delightful and memorable. The experiences are not just relevant to girls growing up, as many are relateable to boys and young men coping with the cultural and social expectations of the day, and finding their way in life and relationships. Take a walk down the memory lane of your own life in very good company. Highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 25, 2022
‘Fifteen First Times’ is a collection of interesting anecdotes from the teenage years of D.G.Kaye. From crazy diets that she tried to follow to the love of shoes and her first kiss, all find a mention in a witty style, as Bobby “planted a big wet kiss… and it was no regular kiss…yuck!” I smiled at the reaction of a nine year old girl who obviously knew nothing about it.
The candor of Kaye is admirable! She shares her stressful moments of becoming a woman in a brilliant manner, trying to figure out what could have caused “the mini bloodbath” between her legs but couldn’t dare to approach her mother, as she was far from “an average mamma” who never cared to explain that there was no need to feel embarrassed about this natural phenomenon.
Kaye’s resilience and independent spirit shines through her words. She grew up into a fine woman despite her dysfunctional family and heartbreaks. Her love for her father and their bonding exemplifies how a child learns to understand life. The book touches upon various emotions and ends with a loving tribute to her late husband. I finished reading it in one sitting and loved the way Kaye shared the stories of her growing up.
My Review: By Judith Barrow
Fifteen First Times is a collection of short but evocative memoirs by D G Kaye. I actually wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started to read. All I knew was that, having read various other books by this author, and having always admired her intimate writing style, I was in for a treat. I wasn’t disappointed.
Although brought up in a different country with a background that was poles apart from my own, I found myself nodding, reminiscing, and recognising so many of her firsts. Indeed I would go so far as to say, that many women would recognise something of themselves, something of their own experiences, in what these recollections bring to mind, wherever they have lived.
The poignancy of some of the stories brought tears, others a “laugh out loud” moment. But all are written with integrity and complete openness, something I always anticipate from D G Kaye. It’s like sharing and swopping tales from our youths. We have all had our “firsts” in our lives, and this compilation of memories is a treat that makes the reader sit back and reminisce – very satisfying.
So I would urge any reader to immerse themselves in this book… to enjoy and reflect on their own “firsts”. That’s what this author’s words brought out in me. Highly recommended.
As I say above, I have read other books by D G Kaye, and never been disappointed. The following are a couple from quite a while ago; around the first time I came across this author. As you will see, I’ve been impressed by her writing for many years. Do check them out…
D.L. Finn‘s review
Dec 16, 2022
it was amazing
“Fifteen First Times” is a group of personal stories told in a humorous yet perceptive manner. It felt like I was sitting with Ms. Kaye having a cup of tea while she shared some of her life stories. I found it easy to relate to a first kiss, first heartbreak, or first-time driving. It got me reflecting on many of my firsts and how I navigated life after. The author’s strength, fashion sense, and humor shined through the words, painting a picture of her moments. This is a book of youthful reflections and what we can learn from all our firsts. There was also a loving dedication to her departed husband that touched my soul. This is a beautiful collection of coming-of-age stories I can easily recommend.
Fifteen first times is a lovely memoir by D G Kaye. Reading it I recalled many of my first times too! In this short memoir, she mentions memories such as her diets, first kiss, colouring her hair, Christmas tree, first apartment, getting her driving licence, travel to Israel and Europe and much more. It is a personal, and relatable collection which I enjoyed.
I think it would be enjoyed by all and in particular bloggers, writers (a lot of the content is female centric such as the short section on first period!) This is a topic that needs to be spoke about openly! So hats off to D G Kaye for being so honest sharing her personal memories.
She also shares her sadness at loss of several family members, a dear friend Alba and her much loved husband.
So, at times humourous, sometimes poignant, a sneak peak into the author’s life.
A recommended read.
I always look forward to reading D.G. Kaye’s books because I know they will be authentic, witty, and compelling.
Throughout D.G. Kaye’s latest memoir, she draws her readers in by sharing her past experiences. A reader can easily relate to fifteen real talk stories that cover topics such as her obsession with shoes, her hilarious experience with her first Christmas tree, her disastrous experiment with changing from blonde to redhead, her first kiss, and many more firsts, at times bittersweet, including the death of a close friend.
In particular, I found her tribute to her beloved husband to be so very touching. She writes how no man could make her laugh. In the past laughter for her “could mask so many scars, aches, and insecurities….It was always me making someone else laugh…That was until I met my husband. Here was a man who made me laugh.”
During this Christmas season, if you’re feeling stressed like many of us are, I highly recommend this book. Relax and give yourself this gift for the holiday season. Your heart will likely smile as you reflect on some of your firsts and take a journey down your own memory lane.