“My social media would let you know I was a working comedian with hobbies, love, a close family, and crucial opinions on trending topics,” writer Sara Schaefer confides in her effective memoir, Grand. “But inside, there was this impossibly tight knot, hissing at me, suffocating me, sucking the joy out of almost everything I did.”
Schaefer is a successful comic who has labored for Jimmy Fallon and hosted a talk display on MTV with fellow comedian Nikki Glaser. In Grand, she toggles among her formative years in Midlothian, Virginia, and a 40th-birthday Grand Canyon rafting ride with her younger sister.
For maximum of her early years, Schaefer and her three siblings lived a privileged existence as the kids of a legal professional and a stay-at-home mom. Her dad and mom both drove Porsches. Her mom’s closet become “a jungle of textures: beads, suede, fur, silk.” Their Christmases featured mountains of presents. But after Schaefer and her siblings learned that their dad had misappropriated his clients’ funds, their family’s opulent way of life become replaced by low-paying jobs as they rebuilt their lives and repaid their debts.
The rafting journey is a way for Schaefer to face her fears, both literally (she is afraid of water) and spiritually (she hasn’t fully grieved the dying of her mom a decade earlier). Schaefer and her sister travel thru Class VIII rapids and discover ways to take a look at their campsite for scorpions before bedtime. All the while, Schaefer’s writing is radiant, whether she’s describing the surprise of the Grand Canyon or her early years as a stand-up comic in New York City. She tells her tale with a generosity that never lapses into sentimentality.
“The sound of the speeding river canceled out all the other sounds,” she writes of her first night sleeping in the canyon. “I thanked the universe for this moment, made peace with my demons, and finally became one with nature. I fell right into a deep, soul-restoring sleep. Just kidding—I tossed and grew to become and cussed for 6 hours straight.” The melding of humor and ache makes Grand a sparkling and engaging read. It is a wise, humorous acknowledgment that we are not usually in control—and that boom is most in all likelihood to happen while we permit go.