Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
By Shonda Rhimes
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Memoir

ISBN: 978-1476777092
Source: Bought
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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.


I started the Year of Yes and yes, I’m glad that I did. There are so many poignant moments in this memoir as we walk through a year in the life of someone who is successful by all means except in the way of facing her fears head on. That’s a very scary thing to do so reading her documentation of it makes us the fly on one of the most powerful people in Hollywood’s wall. The things you can learn from that. I do wish we got a bit more.

While she doesn’t cover every single YES from her year of yes – since it was an entire year (plus) and who has time to read about every single scary decision someone makes in a year – we do get a really good look at what it’s like in the midst of overcoming our greatest roadblock… ourselves. It took an entire year of constant vigilance and thinking before switching to the default and hard work for Shonda to really truly understand at its core what it meant to say yes to herself. To truly value not simply her goals but every facet of her very being, unapologetically I might add.

In all of this, I think this book is a great applause for herself in reaching this point and that is well deserved, an entirely different accomplishment from her career which we all know and are in awe of. I just wish we had gotten a little less applause and a little more depth into even more Yeses throughout her year.

You never know the power your words can hold on people. The words, the mumblings of Shonda’s sister shaped the rest of Shonda’s life. It may have even saved her life. In this memoir, we get to see Shonda break it down (in a general fashion) from saying yes to speaking out, to respecting her body and living a healthy lifestyle, to saying yes to not feeling any shame or guilt over motherhood, over marriage, over so many things…it’s really beautiful.

While certain passages could have been condensed so that we could get to see more of her year of yes and while sometimes I did think that the tone was a bit too Hollywood, I get the heart behind it all and that’s why I picked up the book in the first place. I love her words, I love the rhythm of her words, but behind all of that, I wanted to see her heart and I needed to know for sure that she gets me and doesn’t even know me and I got all of that.

As someone who greatly admires Shonda Rhimes, I was moved by her words and am even more inspired to say, “Yes” myself. To get down to the core of it all, be honest with myself, and say, “Yes” to making a positive change so that I can soar higher than I know that I already can. I couldn’t have read this at a better time in my life and even though I feel like we got the skin and the meat but not enough of the bones, I’ve closed this book with a more open heart and that’s all I really wanted in the first place. So I encourage anyone who is thinking about reading this book to get a copy and do so and start saying, “Yes” to yourself today.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes is available now.