~ Audiobook Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person ~

Published November 10, 2015

Author: Shonda Rhimes

Narrator: Shonda Rhimes

Audiobook Length: 7 hours 4 minutes

The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying Yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

While I have not watched any Shonda Rhimes’ shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder), I must admire how she balanced multiple extremely popular series. The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person appealed to me as I like the idea of an introvert navigating being in the spotlight. There are photos included in the printed addition, which are a nice touch; however, I prefer the audiobook as the author not only narrates it herself, but the actual audio from the commencement speech is used.

Shonda narrates her story as if she is telling it to a friend. The manner is very casual with many moments of repetition and rambling. I have many friends that tell stories this way and while it is not my style, it is just her storytelling manner. I do think this novel would have greatly benefiting from another round or two of editing as it reads like a manuscript where every thought is on the page rather than kept concise to the point the book was trying to make. While each chapter was consistent with the author’s style, there were some pieces that did not fit the central theme as much. For those parts, I did begin to wonder why they were included aside from just being interesting stories. I do wish that that she went into more depth with how each of these moments went with her year of yes as they seemed to stay near the surface. There is a lot more potential, but I loved the concept and the ease of listening to the stories.

One part that stuck out to me was Shonda discussing her weight gain and how she came to the realization she was not happy in her own body. She discusses looking at herself in a mirror and not recognizing herself which came across as relatable as she personally did not like it but did not judge others who might have been. This led to her in a first-class seat where the installed belt would not fit, so she had to decide to either speak up for an extender or take the steps to lose weight to fit in the future. This is where she lost me entirely as I was under the impression this was about building self confidence and acceptance with a mix of becoming more outspoken. Instead, in this moment she chose to not ask for an extender (as an aside she could have ordered one without ever speaking to someone, which fits a typical introvert’s preference) and she went with the idea that losing weight was her only option. I fully understood and support her decision for weight loss if that is what she wanted, but the execution of her telling this story as part of her self-empowerment journey just did not land for me.

Overall, I think Shonda is an inspiration as she works incredibly hard for everything she has. While she has privilege, she acknowledges it. She may be a single mom with resources that many others cannot access, but she still has moments of struggle like anyone else. I love the idea behind saying yes to everything as it may help open new doors. I do still question why some of the story makes it seems that being an introvert is bad, but I do not think this was the intention. Instead, I think, again, this book would have benefited from more editing so the message would come through clearer. I may be in the minority with these thoughts as many other readers may think differently, however, I still think this novel was worth the read.

3 thoughts on “~ Audiobook Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person ~

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