Summary: A First Time for Everything
A First Time for Everything is Dan Santat’s new graphic memoir about his school trip to Europe at the end of middle school. Middle school Dan is shy and socially awkward. He spends most of his time helping his mom, who has Lupus, and gets made fun of a bit by some girls in his grade. Thankfully, his parents are determined that he sees the world, and they support his Europe trip. As they visit Germany, France, Switzerland, and England, Dan is swept up in many, many firsts, making for a life-changing trip.
This was a super fun graphic novel! It felt like I was taking a trip around Europe too. It’s also set in the 80s, which was fun to experience in a book.
Dan is about 13 in the story, and it’s that perfect age when everything feels new and bright, and exciting. The kids room with local families, are left to their own devices in big cities like Paris, and get to meet kids from other schools too. Dan discovers Fanta (apparently it was a European thing in the 80s? — I didn’t know that) and tries every flavor possible while he’s there.
There’s also a touch of romance in this story as Dan meets his first love (and has his first kiss!). It’s all very sweet because apparently, he’s still in touch with his friends from this trip and I loved reading about the small tweaks he made and seeing photos of everyone in his Author’s Note. This is just one better experienced than read about in a review, so go read it!
Overall: A First Time for Everything
A First Time for Everything is a stellar, relatable graphic novel about growing up, wading through the awkward tween years, and finding one’s voice. Set on an end-of-middle-school Europe trip, this book is a great fit for kids in upper elementary, middle school, and younger high schoolers. If you like to travel via books, this is an unmissable graphic novel.