Rachel Shukert spins the pain of growing up Jewish in America’s heartland into a hilarious feast of alienation.
In this collection of autobiographical tales, Rachel Shukert spins the pain of growing up Jewish in America’s heartland into a hilarious feast of alienation. In Omaha, NE, Shukert spends her childhood debating which acquaintances would hide her from the Nazis and covering her bedroom walls with posters of Jewish celebrities to ward off the Gestapo officers she imagines are creeping around in the drywall. As a high-school student, Shukert joins a Jewish social group whose main draw includes minimally supervised weekends, which the author and her fellow members use to hook up with one another. Bitten by the acting bug, she looks to the stage to truly find her niche, a dream that eventually leads her to leave Omaha to study drama in New York City. Here, Shukert finds herself an outcast yet again, this time as a Midwesterner navigating the big city. The second half of the book chronicles her struggles with anorexia, binge-drinking, and mindless jobs in a sluggish economy.
Through it all, Shukert manages to find the humor in her misfortunes, and it’s her colorful storytelling and ability to illustrate the tragic and absurd with heaps of comedy that make Have You No Shame so compelling. It’s impossible not to be riveted by Shukert’s personal quest and root for her as she tries to shamelessly figure it out.