Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert
Published: Harper Perennial (2010), 336pg
Genres: GLBTQ, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel
When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukert—with a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no money—finally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to “find herself” on a grand tour of Europe. Traveling from Vienna to Zurich to Amsterdam, Rachel bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"—whatever that may be.Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Except it’s not so much a “grand tour” as a “meander through some parts of Europe until you run into Amsterdam and then stay there for a few years.”
Amsterdam takes up most of the book, and even then it’s mostly about Rachel’s friends and her romantic mistakes. Not a whole heck of a lot of traveling!
Reading about Rachel’s life is uncomfortable in that way where you want to scream “NO STOP DOING THAT omg what’s wrong with you and your ability to make decisions” all the time, and yet it’s also kinda fun because you know she’ll turn out all right in the end. It’s like watching a trainwreck, only the train’s made of marshmallows and it’s crashing into a golden retriever or something.
It takes a particularly skilled writer to a) be so honest with themselves and about their lives that they’re unafraid to put the nasty parts of themselves out there for everyone to see and b) make it entertaining enough that people who don’t actually know them are interested in reading about them and their weird life.
It’s even HARDER to make it heartwarming! But she totally did it, and I very much enjoyed reading Everything Is Going to Be Great. In fact, the very last act of the book, where she met her current husband, made me feel SO gooey with warm-and-cuddly feelings. I was so happy for Rachel! I rooted for her and wanted her to finally have a good relationship with someone who loved her.
Do you like memoirs of people who lead trainwreck lives? I really only like them if they’re also funny (which this book is), and if I know they get their shit together before it’s too late.
Younger!Rachel was kind of a mess, but in what ends up being an endearing way. If you enjoy humorous memoirs about people who go off and do things like star in a play where they have to wear a rubber poo hat the whole time, then I definitely recommend picking up Everything Is Going to Be Great.
Read: August 6-8, 2014