Grace “Gigi” Cramer recounts the ups and downs of her life in this memoir about gratitude and paying it forward.
As the only daughter of the first woman to graduate Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Gigi Cramer admittedly owes her tenacity to her “brilliant mother,” Grace Hughes Guin. Guin was abandoned by her father, but her indelible work ethic garnered the attention of Georgios Papanikolaou—known for developing the Pap Smear for early detection of uterine and cervical cancers—which catapulted her medical career.
Here, Cramer shares how her mother’s example and tough love helped her through her own trials: being abandoned by her husband just minutes after delivering her son, a subsequent battle with breast cancer, a near-fatal car wreck that kept her hospitalized for 10 months and left her with an opioid addiction, and more.
Fortunately, Cramer beautifully balances the intense negative moments of her life with the joyful, such as her marriage to Ed, a retired commander in the U.S. Navy and the many trips they took. She weaves humor and lively anecdotes throughout, including recounting the time her date took her on his yacht with his friends. Suddenly, they realized they were being pursued by the Coast Guard, at which point her date and his male friends began tossing hidden weapons overboard. “Surprise!” she writes. “They were part of the Italian Mafia.”
Studying abroad in France and working as an interior designer in New York City afforded her other interesting moments, from playing chopsticks with Arthur Rubenstein and having lunch with Salvador Dali to designing a new apartment for John Lennon and Yoko Ono and dinner with Dr. Seuss.
Cramer’s writing flows easily and is quick-paced, despite frequent formatting issues that run her words together on the page. While her narrative lacks the artful craft of more accomplished memoirs, her message of gratitude and perseverance shines through in this memoir meant to “pay it forward by giving back.”
Also available as an ebook.