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Review: Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert

Review: Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert post image

Title: Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded & Overexposed European Grand Tour
Author: Rachel Shukert
Genre/Format: Memoir
Year: 2010
Acquired: From the publisher for review.
Rating: ★★★½☆

One Sentence Summary: After getting a nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play touring Europe, Shukert sneaks off grid to find herself in Europe.

One Sentence Review: If you can handle the crude humor, Shukert’s memoir is a fun and innovative addition to the whole “coming of age” genre.

Why I Read It: Erica at The Olive Reader mentioned she loved the book, and since I like memoirs I wanted to give it a try.

Long Review: Rachel Shukert’s second memoir Everything Is Going to Be Great is not a story for the faint of heart or easily offended. After a fluke with her passport in Vienna, recently graduated and totally confused Shukert finds herself with a free pass to roam around Europe and try and figure out what she wants to do with her life.

Over the next several months, Shukert finds herself in, “a dental emergency that almost ends in a threesome to a run-in with sausage-loving neo-Nazis, to an affair with a middle-aged Austrian man” and a whole lot more (quote from the back of the book). There’s an entire section describing various – I hope fictional – Swiss sex acts. Like I said, not for the faint of heart.

I’m not usually a fan of crude or intentionally tasteless anything, but in this case I think the humor works because Shukert keeps most of it turned on herself. Certainly, she does poke fun at the people she is interacting with, but most of the most critical observations are about herself and which she’s completely aware of. As Shukert describes it, “This book is, however, a work of sometimes tasteless ‘comedy,’ for which it apologizes in advance” (151).

The other thing I liked most about this book was the format. Instead of being a straight memoir, Shukert writes it more like travel advice guide, interspersing her story with sections like, “’Excuse Please, How Much?’: What to Do When Someone Mistakes You for a Prostitute” or “Another Century in Paradise: Phil Collins and the Dutch.” I thought these parts were a cool way to play with the memoir format and push the envelope a little bit, similar to the way the humor pushes the envelope too.

This isn’t a memoir for everyone, but it is a memoir that I think a lot of people would enjoy. Of you like travel memoirs with more than a touch of dark humor, this one might be for you.

Other Reviews: Devourer of Books | The Girl from the Ghetto | Leeswammes’ Blog |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeanne October 5, 2010, 6:57 am

    Hmm, sounds like something my daughter and her friends would find amusing. What an interesting high school graduation gift it would make!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:19 pm

      Jeanne: I bet teens or people younger than me would find a lot of it hilarious and crazy. Maybe a little mature for some kids, but not all.

  • Care October 5, 2010, 7:19 am

    I don’t think this one is right for me at this time of my life. Which only refers to the huge stack of books that I really really really WANT to read right now.

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:18 pm

      Care: I imagine it’s a hit or miss book,a nd if the timing isn’t right it’d probably be a miss. No worries!

  • Colleen (Books in the City) October 5, 2010, 7:47 am

    I just finished this and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it – I would never have such wild adventures on a trip to Europe but I enjoyed reading her smart witty re-telling of her trip!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:18 pm

      Colleen: Me either! I went to Europe a couple of times, but my trips were so, so tame. It was funt o read about someone more adventurous than me.

  • Amy October 5, 2010, 8:07 am

    The travel information bits sound good… but I’m not a huge fan of memoirs or finding yourself sooo… I’ll give this one a pass 🙂

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:17 pm

      Amy: Yeah, I’d give it a pass then. Finding yourself sorts of memoirs are hit and miss for me — the travel information parts were a big reason why this one worked rather than didn’t work.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) October 5, 2010, 9:20 am

    I do love memoirs and can handle crude ones if they’re done right. This sounds interesting!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:16 pm

      Kathy: It is! I hope you get to try it.

  • Alyce October 5, 2010, 10:20 am

    I loved travel memoirs, but this one was too crude for me. I just couldn’t really get into her humor so I didn’t finish it.

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:16 pm

      Alyce: I think a reader would know within the first couple of pages whether this was a book for them or not. I was ok with the humor, but absolutely can see why it wouldn’t work for a lot of people.

  • Belle October 5, 2010, 3:17 pm

    This one sounds interesting – I really like the format you described, with the quirky little travel tip sections. I’m adding this to my wish list!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:15 pm

      Belle: The format was one of my favorite parts, and a bit part of why I wouldn’t think of the book as “just another travel memoir.” It adds some uniqueness to the story, plus shows that Shukert is pretty self-aware as a person and a writer – a quality I appreciate.

  • Ash October 5, 2010, 5:43 pm

    I haven’t read this but I totally agree with you about the placement of humor. I think in nonfiction it is very easy to make fun of others, but that doesn’t mean you should. I find I trust writers more when they turn those comments back on themselves.

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:14 pm

      Ash: Absolutely. I have a hard time with books that make fun of others. I’m much more of a fan of self-deprecating humor, and this book is full of it.

  • S. Krishna October 6, 2010, 7:56 am

    I have this one for review, and while I’m not quite sure about it, I will definitely be reading it soon if only to read some of the crazy stories!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 5:12 pm

      S. Krishna: It’s a book I wasn’t totally sure about either, but the stories are so absurd it’s almost ridiculous. It made me both happy and sad I’ve not had an experience like this one. Hope you like it!

  • nicole langan October 6, 2010, 10:53 am

    Thanks! for sharing, might not be for me.

  • Marie October 6, 2010, 4:39 pm

    Sounds hilarious. I need to check that out!

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 4:54 pm

      Marie: Lots of parts were quite funny, which is good!

  • Suzanne October 6, 2010, 7:10 pm

    I figure I must be an old grump, because I found Shukert to be rather immature and I didn’t find her alcohol-infused travelogue funny at all. Which is sad, because I wanted to like this book.

    I have an award for you at my blog: http://bibliosue.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-won-award.html

    • Kim October 7, 2010, 4:54 pm

      Suzanne: No, I don’t think it’s being grumpy. I think if I were older I might feel the same way. Rachel at the beginning of the book has a lot of growing up to do, which isn’t necessarily fun to read about.