I haven’t written a book review since school. How do these things work?
Okay, I love Amy Poehler. I am a huge fan of Parks and Recreation (I watched all 6 seasons in one go and I’m so excited to watch the final season in real time!) Leslie Knope is my hero, I seriously couldn’t ask for female character in a sitcom that makes me more happy and excited about life than Leslie Knope. To be honest, I haven’t seen her do improv because I’m British and we don’t get Saturday Night Live but I’ve repeatedly watched Amy and Tina Fey’s two Golden Globe opening monologues. Hilarious!
I read Yes Please as a fan of Amy Poehler so I can’t say what it would be like reading it if you didn’t know who she was or what she’s done. It’s a memoir of her life so if you don’t care about her I don’t really know how much you can care about her book. I gobbled up her book. I started reading on Christmas Day and finished on New Years Day whilst still seeing family and friends and getting drunk pretty much every night. Shush, it was the holiday season.
Whilst I was knee deep in Poehler I was loving every minute of reading her book. It was funny, smart, thought-provoking and inspiring. But once I finished and I stepped away from it I realised that I only laughed out loud twice (and only a snigger or a giggle), she said lots of obvious things which in context made her seem like your beautiful, wise best friend but when you actually think about it, it’s not that special. For example, “you have to be where you are to get where you need to go” and “the only thing we can depend on in life is that everything changes”. I understand why people love this shit but for me personally, it makes me want to puke. But, to quote Amy, “good for her! Not for me.” She’s still inspiring though, I would be lying if I told you that my resolution to do improvisation had nothing to do with reading Yes Please. But her amazing talent can either make you feel inspired or incredibly insecure. Or both. I hope it makes you feel inspired.
The structure of Yes Please confused me. It’s split into three parts and all of the chapters are about something different – a time in her life, a person or a thought. It’s not in chronological order which I actually find quite refreshing but I felt there was nothing holding the book together except the first chapter of each part being an edition of how she fell in love with improv (Boston, Chicago and New York). That was cool. But with none of chapters connecting I kept on thinking, what’s your point Amy? What are you trying to say?
I feel mean now. There were loads of things about Yes Please that I loved! The chapter about treating your career like a bad boyfriend was excellent. Whether or not you like Amy Poehler or you’re going to read this book, read this chapter. Seriously, it’s brilliant. I’ll probably reread it every time I have a career crisis. It was so different to any career advice I’ve ever received. I loved all the additions of photos, haikus, scripts, essays and notes from her parents, friends and co-workers. It has a scrapbook vibe without the feeling that you’ve been ripped off because it turns out it was a picture book. It’s not a picture book. There are words. (Great book review, Hannah, ‘there are words’). I was reading on the tube when I reached the end of a chapter and it was also my stop (perfect timing!) and I just glanced at the title of the next chapter and I read this:
“Let’s Build A Park”
I couldn’t stop smiling and then I got angry that I had to spend a whole evening with my friends getting drunk and not reading. (Sorry Liam, Happy Birthday – I had a great time!) This chapter warmed my heart. It had margin footnotes added in by writer of Parks and Recreation, Mike Schur which was a brilliant touch. I just wish there had been more than one chapter about the show but I have discovered since reading Amy Poehler’s memoir that in fact more stuff has happened in her life than Parks – who knew!?
I still love Amy Poehler and ultimately what my favourite thing about Yes Please is that I felt connected to her and I could relate to her despite the fact that she’s a 40-something divorcee with two children. I am a 20-something single pringle with zero offspring. But facts like that shouldn’t separate people.
Have you read Yes Please or are you planning on reading it? Are you an Amy Poehler fan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.