Maya Smart reviews Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes

Hello, it’s Maya, and I’m back with another five-star read. The year’s half over, but I still would like to spend today talking about Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of Yes.”

This is a fantastic book that’s not really just about saying yes to everything that comes your way. It’s really a book about pushing through discomfort to do some of the things that are really worthwhile for your personal and professional development.

The kinds of yeses Shonda is giving are unlike anything most of us are experiencing. She’s saying yes to [appearing on] Jimmy Kimmel, yes to giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth in front of 10,000 people. Those aren’t the sorts of yeses most of us can say, but I still think there’s a benefit to reading her story, and learning to push past the things that scare us, whatever they may be.

The first thing I really loved about this book was just that it’s really tight, funny, and fast-paced. Shonda is the queen of one-liners. There’s a part where she’s talking about thinking through her anxiety around an event, and instead of saying she’s thinking about it, she says she’s drinking about it. Just again, just this really tight, sharp writing. Of course, we would expect no less from the woman who’s given us Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice, and Scandal, and so many other wonderful, tightly-written shows.

images matter, that the people we see on television and in movies have an actual impact on the way we live our lives

For those of you who are Grey’s Anatomy fans, this book does not give you an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the creation of the show, but it does have some really poignant descriptions of Shonda’s relationship with the character Christina Yang, and the actress Sandra Oh, who plays her. I think that that’s something that Grey’s Anatomy fans will really enjoy.

Another thing to really love about this book is just Shonda’s transparency, her authenticity, her willingness to share moments of vulnerability and insecurity. She lets us see her in an elevator power-posing before a big presentation. She talks about the internal mommy score-card that’s constantly running in her mind that makes her feel as though she’s not a good enough mom when she’s really killing it professionally.

The fourth thing I really loved about this book is its boldness in insisting that images matter, that the people we see on television and in movies have an actual impact on the way we live our lives.

The fifth thing I really love about this book is just the moral of the story, as she’s presented it, which in her words is, “Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you’re supposed to be.”

Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy Year of Yes as much as I did.


Maya Payne Smart is a lover of caffeine, books, and justice. A wife, mom and community advocate, she splits her “me time” between speed reading and slow writing. She specializes in covering dynamic women who lift as they climb.

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