An unflinchingly honest, wickedly funny, and heartfelt debut about a down-on-his-luck gay man working out how he fits into the world, making up for lost time, and opening himself up to life’s possibilities
Danny Scudd is absolutely fine. He always dreamed of escaping the small-town life of his parents’ fish-and-chip shop, moving to London, and becoming a journalist. And, after five years in the city, his career isn’t exactly awful, and his relationship with pretentious Tobbs isn’t exactly unfulfilling. Certainly his limited-edition Dolly Parton vinyls and many (maybe too many) house plants are hitting the spot. But his world is flipped upside down when a visit to the local clinic reveals that Tobbs might not have been exactly faithful. In fact, Tobbs claims they were never operating under the “heteronormative paradigm” of monogamy to begin with. Oh, and Danny’s flatmates are unceremoniously evicting him because they want to start a family. It’s all going quite well.
Newly single and with nowhere to live, Danny is forced to move in with his best friend, Jacob, a flamboyant nonbinary artist whom he’s known since childhood, and their eccentric group of friends living in an East London “commune.” What follows is a colorful voyage of discovery through modern queer life, dating, work, and lots of therapy–all places Danny has always been too afraid to fully explore. Upon realizing just how little he knows about himself and his sexuality, he careens from one questionable decision (and man) to another, relying on his inscrutable new therapist and housemates to help him face the demons he’s spent his entire life trying to repress. Is he really fine, after all?
At first, I thought this story was going to be a quirky book full of wild and zany characters. While there certainly was that aspect to it, it also ended up being a fascinating journey of self-discovery and healing for a young man named Danny Scudd. This book could have been easily titled “The unraveling of Danny Scudd” because that’s what has to happen before our main character can pull himself together: he must totally fall apart.
Through his unraveling, Danny has to deal with internalized homophobia and learn how to live his life without hiding in the background. Up until now, he seemed to prefer being “invisible” and wasn’t one to engage in any confrontation, letting others trample all over him in the process. So in this way, parts of the story were a tad cringey. But though Danny’s journey is undoubtedly bumpy and a bit dark in places, the author portrays it in a heartfelt and humorous way that makes Danny ultimately likable and relatable. Danny’s story is layered with complexities of identity, loss, mental illness, rage, and toxic relationships that were expertly articulated in the voice of our narrator.
Throughout the pages of the book, I enjoyed seeing Danny confront his issues and slowly come to accept his identity and accept his true self. Though he does have a tough time of it — and even transforms into a major jerk at one point — his friends stand by him and guide him back to himself. Speaking of friends, the secondary characters were phenomenal, with my favorite being the larger-than-life Jacob. The clever, witty banter between the characters caused me to cackle out loud on more than one occasion, and they all added an essential element to the narrative.
All in all, I loved this complete whirlwind of a novel. It was a strange, wonderfully weird, immersive book that explores some dark themes but in a unique and fun way. Thus, it’s messy and dark but without ever falling over the edge. First Time for Everything is a poignant portrait of a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance that really resonated with me, and I’m glad this story caught my attention.
This book is scheduled to be released on May 10, 2022 but is available now for Preorder.