Year of Yes

Year of Yes Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Pages: 311
Released: January 05, 2015
Nonfiction | Memoir | Self Help


There are several expectations one has when they start a new book. Book cover, title, synopsis, and author all play in a part in reader expectations. I’ll admit I didn’t read the synopsis to Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. I saw the book had decent cover, a catchy title, great reviews, and it’s written by the popular and successful television writer and creator Shonda Rhimes. On expectation meter mine were somewhere in the middle since I thought Year of Yes was a motivational book. I realized the end of the forward Hello: I’m Old and I Like to Lie (A Disclaimer of Sorts) my expectations should have been higher. There is a reason Rhimes owns Thursday night network television. The second thing that hit me was the Year of Yes was an autobiographic exploration into a life changing year of Shonda Rhimes life. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise the back jacket it’s an autobiography which is not quite right. Saying the Year of Yes is equal parts humorous autobiography and motivational work of art would be selling it short. It’s more like sitting down with a girlfriend you haven’t seen in a long time and her telling you her adventures. You two are having a grand time as she talking, laughing and joking and all the while she is dropping gems of advice and motivation that is easily digested. And when her tale ends you want more.

To say I enjoyed reading Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person would be an understatement.

Was the comment I post on Twitter ranting that the books I love are always the hardest to review.

You can stop right there and read no further, the above tweet sums up this review. But I will try to describe what to expect out of the Year of Yes when you buy and/or borrow it and read it.

Year of Yes is an autobiographical account of what happens after Shonda Rhimes sister, Delorse, mentions Shonda never says yes to anything while they are cooking Thanksgiving dinner and Shonda is telling her about an event she had been invited to attend. It wasn’t until she was
told that she was sitting with the president and the First Lady in the box at the Kennedy Center Honors Shonda realized if asked she would’ve said no. Shonda texted a friend and issued a challenge to herself at the same time.

Am going to say yes to anything and everything that scares me. For a whole year. Or until I get scared to death and you have to bury me. Ugh.Shonda Rhimes - Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

We learn how one year changed Shonda, already successful, life and so much more. Year of Yes, is sprinkled with tidbits about her childhood, her relationship with her family, her friends, her colleagues, her employees, and her love for writing. There is even a chapter dedicated to the nanny who helps her take care of her three children titled Yes to Surrendering the Mommy War (or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything). Rhimes tells all this while avoiding the dreaded information dumps that sometimes plagues autobiographies. Everything is told when the reader needs to know it, there are no surprises, no flipping back and forth to remember small details.

The motivational portion comes in learning what happens to Rhimes faces her fears. She takes her readers through the ups and downs with her. The feelings of nervousness and the moments of triumphs. How she analyzes the way her new journey is affecting her relationship with her daughters and her relationship with herself lets the reader now everything was fine and dandy. There is advice peppered in her analysis and it’s barely noticeable. Her comedic ability and well crafted sentence cover it up nicely.

Perhaps you think that it is important to your child’s personal growth to bake goods in your house. More power to you, my sister. I will defend your right to bake your brownies, I will march for your right to home-bake whatever you damn well want to home-bake. But I will take off my earrings and ask someone to hold my purse for the verbal beatdown we will need to engage in if you try to tell me that I must define my motherhood in the same terms as yours.Shonda Rhimes - Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Which shouldn’t be a surprise since Shonda Rhimes is a writer of television dramas and movies. The ability to hook viewers so they will want to continue watching is part of the job, her talent for it is she reason she owns television on Thursday nights. She is an expert. And if I didn’t have this thing about writing in books I would’ve highlighted something every single page of Year of Yes. She even includes three speeches she gave, I read them all forgetting they were speech. This is how smoothly she writes, speeches she gave in front of audiences felt like she was talking to me. Shonda Rhimes would make a killing as a motivational speaker.

The fact she does all this with humor hooked me and had me coming back for more. I would read with a smile on my face. Time seemed to fly by faster than normal. I didn’t expect from Shonda Rhimes was humor. I haven’t seen Grey’s Anatomy in years and never watched an episode of How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal but even I am familiar with TGIT (Thank Good It’s Thursday) and her most popular character names. But those shows are dramas and I always pictured writers for those shows to be very serious, not lacking in humor, but very serious. If I hadn’t known Shonda Rhimes and been familiar with her work and only knew she wrote for television I would’ve guessed comedy and humor were specialty, that she wrote television sitcoms. That is how funny she and being able to convey it through her shows her writing talent. There were times I had to stop myself from laughing at loud because I was in public and I didn’t want people to think I was crazy.

At work, I am a badass warrior. I’m competitive. I work hard. Hell, I’m a badass competitive warrior at croquet with my kids. I got competitive knitting once. KNITTING. Which is why I am not allowed to knit around other people. Sharp objects, a bloodlust for victory, balls of wool… it’s not a good mix.Shonda Rhimes - Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

So, yeah I loved it and think you should buy it for your collection and read it and tell your friends.


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