Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
“In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.”
First off, I love Amy Poehler. Queen of SNL and star of Parks and Recreation, she is an absolute heroine of mine. Smart, funny, forthright women are totally my jam so getting my hands on her first book was a must. I don’t usually go for autobiographies in general, I’m more of an all out fiction girl but there are exceptions to every rule and Amy Poehler is a woman you make exceptions for.
As a leading authority on all things Parks and Recreation (or so I like to think), I came to Yes Please with a lot of expectation and anticipation and as such I was, almost inevitably, slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, I laughed out loud a lot and I thoroughly recommend it but I came to it expecting to be blown away. As is so often the case, I was perhaps asking a little too much of my heroes.
I was about half way through the book when I decided to take it to my favourite local coffee shop and read it there whilst eating lunch. This might seem like a perfectly ordinary act but there’s something of the socially awkward dork in me that often prevents me from having the confidence to go somewhere to eat on my own. I found myself emboldened by Poehler and said to myself, as I imagine she would in the same circumstance, “Fuck it! I don’t want to make my own sandwich!” As such I spent a very happy afternoon getting crumbs all over my lap and sipping on chai lattes with an almighty grin on my face as I beavered my way through a good chunk of this book.
I’ve seen criticism elsewhere (albeit infrequent) that some readers found Poehler’s style frustrating or even incoherent. If you are expecting a linear narrative memoir then you are doubtless going to be disappointed and I imagine that this was the issue for some of those who were critical of it. However, Poehler herself is very upfront about this style in her chapter ‘Instructions for How to Use This Book’, describing it as being “like a thick stew”. The chapters throughout are generally all slightly odd mixtures of memoir, advice and essay and not all draw neat, cohesive conclusions. This, however, did not bother me in the slightest, particularly as Poehler had laid out this expectation in her opening. I have seen further criticism of the bold graphics, handwritten notes, photographs and other paraphernalia that punctuate each chapter with other reviewers labelling them to be ‘lazy filler’. But again, at the outset Poehler describes the structure as “an attempt to present an open scrap book that includes a sense of what I am thinking and feeling right now” and, for me at least, that is exactly what the book delivers.
Much like the woman herself, Yes Please is forthright, honest, self-aware and funny. Poehler uses personal stories, anecdotes and a fair amount of name dropping to weave together sound and relatable advice. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Parks and Recreation (seriously guys, that show is AMAZING) and ‘Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend’ in which her sound advice really resonated with me. On occasion it feels a little rambling and, for me, there’s a little too much meta chat about how hard it is writing a book but nonetheless my overall impression is one of enjoyment and empowerment. On some level this book is an insiders take on what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world and Poehler’s passion and determination really come through and I found myself wanting by some method (osmosis, probably) to absorb her sense of confidence and adopt her outlook on life.
If you’re a fan of Amy Poehler, or awesome women in general, I recommend giving this one a go. If you’ve never seen Parks and Recreation then go and watch it immediately. Like, right this second. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Or even better, I’ll watch it with you…
If you like this, you might like: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman, How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran