Shonda Rhimes is a household name; her company, Shondaland, is responsible for hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy (my personal favorite), as well as Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. Rhimes is an incredible writer, one who has captivated huge audiences, and jokes (rightly) that she “owns Thursday nights.”
Rhimes is also very human; this work is very raw and emotional, despite the constant onslaught of jokes and the nature of her self-deprecating humor. Underneath it all, we see Rhimes as someone who had become complacent living a very boring, yet famous life.
Year of Yes is listed as both a memoir/autobiography and a self help book – Rhimes successfully encompassed both genres by writing honestly while using herself as an example. The joy that comes with saying Yes and growing is very apparent on the page; it’s a self-help book not because Rhimes provides a step-by-step method, but because she explains that chapter in her life so well that readers have the ability to take what she learned and run with it.
Rhimes also shows us the struggles of being a working mother. She lays into concepts that feminist women deal with, ie. marriage and child-rearing, and she does wonders with them. She also shows us how it feels to succeed even when the recognition and the honor don’t feel quite like you’d expected. Overall, Rhimes writes herself and she does it well.
Some interesting aspects of the book were the interpersonal interactions and losses that Rhimes experiences as a result of her challenge; losing people because of becoming a more whole and strong version of yourself is a pain that she has laid bare on the page, all the while maintaining that strength and grace. I identified with Rhimes in those moments, I remembered friends lost in periods of joy or strength or assertion, and I loved reading what Rhimes had to say about it.
Year of Yes is definitely a feminist read; Rhimes mentions feminism in many instances, as well as concepts like the necessity of diversity (though she hates the word) on tv. She writes on life from the perspective of a single mother and a successful businesswoman who has built an empire.
I give the book a 9/10.