Title: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person
Author: Shonda Rhimes
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
In this untraditional memoir, Shonda Rhimes discusses her amazing success, shattering the glass ceiling for women of color on TV, and how she realized that, despite “having at all,” she still wasn’t happy. That led Rhimes to her “year of yes,” where she was determined to say yes to the things that scared her most and to figure out how to live her best life.
When it comes to celebrity memoirs, it’s not juicy tell-alls that attract me. Instead, it’s the melding of memoir and advice, of seeing how these people who are supposed to have it all try to live the best lives they can. That’s why Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes intrigued me so much. Diversity is a thing I talk about every day, until I’m blue in the face it feels like, and here’s a woman who is actively making a difference in that regard on our television screens every Thursday night. I wanted to hear about what she had to say, about what scares her, and about what she wanted out of her own life.
And this woman. Oh, this woman. I felt as if Rhimes was speaking directly to me while I was reading Year of Yes. Let’s start with the premise of the book: In December 2014, Rhimes had everything, but she still wasn’t happy. She’s an introvert at heart, and had found a way to hide behind her work. She decided that, for one year, she would say yes to the things that scared her most—namely being the center of attention and agreeing to have the spotlight on her—and she found it changed her in so many ways. Having gone through my own “year of yes,” where I forced myself to say yes to things I’d normally decline because I like being at home by myself, this resonated with me so much.
Rhimes also talks a lot about being a woman who has it all in Year of Yes and is honest about her self-doubt and how she gets thing done. Bottom line—she has a lot of help. Help from family, yes, but also paid help. She’s not shy about it and doesn’t pretend like she’s able to do everything effortlessly. It’s hard work that’s gotten her to where she is, and it’s great to see Rhimes talk honestly about these issues and about motherhood.
Rhimes also frankly discusses diversity in Year of Yes. She doesn’t bother to discuss why it’s necessary in television—that much should be abundantly clear. What she does talk about is frustrations and difficulties when it comes to representing all black women, of the fear of failure and how if Scandal had failed, it would be difficult to get another show with a black female lead on TV for years to come. It’s frank, it’s refreshing, it’s honest.
And honest is the best word to describe this book. Rhimes doesn’t beat around the bush, she doesn’t mince words; she has things to say, and she discusses them so well in this memoir. This is by no means a tell-all or a gossipy look into Rhimes’ life. What it is is a provocative self-reflective book that will make you think as much about yourself as it does Rhimes’ own life. It’s amazing how relatable Rhimes is, but any introvert book lover who’s interested in self-improvement should absolutely pick this up.