Title: Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded & Overexposed European Grand Tour
Author: Rachel Shukert
Acquired: From the publisher for review.
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.
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!