Yes Please: Take It or Leave It

Nothing pumps me up like reading a great book! The excitement leading up to a long-awaited book release is like waiting for Christmas. I read Tina Fey’s book Bossypants earlier this year. It was hilarious and a quick entertaining read. I craved Amy Poehler’s book after that. I waited impatiently for it to be released. I loved Parks and Rec, Wet Hot American Summer, and Weekend Update. She was great in Inside Out, and I love many things she has been involved in (even without knowing she was involved in them) such as Broad City. To sum it up: I love AP!

I bought the book and then reality set in. Just 40% of the way through Yes Please (thanks Kindle!) I was struggling to get through another chapter. Because I was bored. Because it wasn’t funny. Because I didn’t relate to anything she was writing about. But I kept at it. 40% still struggling. 60% OMG AM I DONE YET??!! 75% OK, a bit of interest finally sets in. Things are moving along in a good way! 80% She has some good insights and I feel more like I may get what I want. 90% Wait, she’s wrapping up?! But, I have not received what I want out of this book!

So I have to ask myself, what did I expect/want out of this book?

  1. I want to know about Amy’s sex/love life. Especially with her husband. Why did they get divorced? Juicy details please! Other conquests, exploits, dalliances? Amy does write a little bit about her sex life, and makes clear allusions to intimate moments. However, these were mostly to unnamed people. There is not much about Will Arnett.
  2. I want to know about before she got famous! Is she still the same person? Has fame changed her? Amy does share about her childhood here and there. From her book, she seems like a normal down to earth person.
  3. I want to know more about her amazing friendship with Tina Fey! I definitely did not get enough of this in the book.
  4. I want to learn what kind of a person Amy is. This was pretty much answered. She is fairly normal. But, from what she implies her book, basically stumbled into her fabulous life. I think she needs to give herself a bit more credit. Hard work, connections, talent all most likely played a role.  
  5. I want to feel like I know Amy. I want to feel like we could be friends, and then maybe start a love triangle with Tina Fey. In the end, I do feel like we could be friends. Excluding the age gap, I think we have a lot in common and would at the very least tolerate each other.
  6. I want funnies! Make me laugh with anecdotes and hilarious mishaps! Amy definitely uses humor in her book. A lot of it is gritty and real. She has had quite a few funny incidents that she shares with her readers.

What I liked about Yes Please:

Candid, unprofessional, and unphotoshopped pictures are sprinkled throughout the book. We are given a glimpse into the real life of AP. I like these photos because they are real pictures of real people.

She includes some interactive points. “Look up this clip, watch this movie/show, view these photos.” Not actual links, which would be nice in an electronic version, but worthwhile to look up.

The writing style clearly shows AP’s personality. Or, at least the personality I imagine her to have. Basically, Leslie Knope writes a memoir.

I thoroughly enjoyed the guest writing by Seth Meyers. Does he have a book? I would read his book.

What I didn’t care for:

Jumping all over her timeline. The book is not at all chronological. I’m not saying all books have to be, but it would make sense in a memoir type book. However, it works to make the reader feel like Amy Poehler is having a conversation with them. Full of tangents, and “oh! let me tell you about this first!” moments.

We know Amy Poehler is famous, right? And we must therefore assume  that she knows some famous people. Ok, but does she need to drop so many names? I know this guy and I met that girl, blah blah blah. And he was just so funny! And she’s even prettier in person! Parts of this book are like reading the book Numbers in the Old Testament of the Bible. You know the one? So and so begat so and so. It is basically just a list of names. Fun game by the way! Try to see how far you can read through Numbers. The point is, my eyes were glazing over when she would write about prominent people. It’s no fun to read about unless there is a good story involved or if they are actually an important part of her life. That’s not to say I don’t want to hear about some of the famous people she knows. Tina Fey, yes! Nick Offerman, yes! Seth Meyers, definitely! But that is a manageable number of people to read about when you are reading about a person who has written about their life.

The main complaint I have is not feeling invested in the book until later on. Normally, I am captivated by everything AP does. This book is not as wonderful as I had hoped.

Amy Poehler’s writing style is funny and easy to read. That should not be a surprise to anyone. Additionally, she comes across as very personable and intimate in her writing. This style makes her seem like a normal, down-to-earth person while still being inspirational.

Early on in the book we get insights into her early career. Then we veer off to talk about her pregnancy in a TMI way. At this point I feel like readers may not feel connected or invested enough to want to hear about her kids and pregnancy. First, can we lead up to that with romance and sex stuff? Embarrassing stories about friends- funny stories even?

Midbook, we get some heartfelt stories about happenings in her life. A years-spanning regret and resolution tale which warms the heart. She tells the story and clearly learns from her mistakes. She learns to take responsibility for her work.

There are sharing moments from the author that readers can relate to. They are almost exactly like my own experiences: dried prom corsages on vanities, indiscretions of youth, being poor and young and dreaming.

She spends a bit of the book on her inability to sleep like normal people. I feel many people have sleep issues and her lifelong struggle with it connects her more to the public. She sprinkles sleep references throughout her book. Losing sleep as a mom, and because of her demanding job. She includes several other instances of admitting to faults and trying get them fixed and then giving up or quitting. This makes her seem more real and more relate-able. It’s nice to know even famous people still don’t have it all together.

Amy Poehler fully admits to being a privileged white girl. She goes as far as saying “I had to create my own drama.” She is mostly referring to her upbringing, but it seems to me from the information presented that Amy Poehler’s life has been pretty easy. No horrifying losses or struggles. Perhaps it is the way she writes or doesn’t write about her struggles. She mentions having postpartum depression after having her children, and she got divorced, and lost a grandparent. But it does not seem like a big deal to her. It seems like she took it in stride and easily dealt with it. Perhaps she is just uncomfortable talking about it in a book. Perhaps it has something to do with being a public figure and putting forward a strong woman persona.

Who might like to read this book? Fans of SNL who want to hear little behind the scenes tidbits, and see photos of stuff there. Enthusiasts of Parks & Rec. Girl-power advocates. People on planes. People on the toilet who need a few minutes. It’s pretty easy to pick up where you left off reading. Although, it can be a tad disorienting with all the jumping around the timeline.

People who want to read about their idols should beware: sometimes they don’t live up to our expectations and that can be majorly disappointing. However, I think that if Amy Poehler ever finds some free time and a true motivation to write a great book about herself, she will totally nail it. This book is not it though. She writes herself that this book was hard to write and that it was not a priority. She literally has guest writers to fill in some of the pages! Which I personally think is a great writing device, because you get to see someone else’s point of view on an event or relationship. However, it kinda shows that maybe she didn’t really try all that hard on this book. All in all, I still suggest you read Yes Please because you can find a few nuggets of comedy gold inside, and you may find that even our role models are normal people just like you.

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