I mentioned in my March Recap I was looking to get back into reading this month. To motivate myself, I took a trip to the book section at Target and bought two new books, one of which was Yes Please, Amy Poehler’s new-ish memoir.
I know Amy Poehler only as Leslie Knope on Parks & Recreation. I’d heard her name and knew who she was before that, but I’m not an SNL watcher, so pretty much the only context I knew her in was Parks & Rec (and the crazy mom on mean girls). I didn’t have much of an opinion on her before I started watching the show, but quickly fell in love with both Parks & Rec and Leslie (and by extension, Amy). Plus the book was 30% off, and I knew it’d be a quick and hopefully funny/witty read.
The first thing I noticed about this book is it is printed in all color. That is a big deal. Normally in a memoir there will be an insert in the middle of the book of 4-10 pages of color pictures (which everyone in the world looks at just before or shortly after starting the book. Those of you who don’t have incredible self-control and I commend you). But this baby is full color, and photos are scattered throughout. Was Bossypants printed in full color? I read that one on audiobook. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a memoir on straight up 100% photo paper before. This also makes it quite a bit heavier than other books of similar size. Impressed.
The book is written as a series of essays (basically chapters that jump back and forth through time), with alternative styles littered throughout. Occasionally there will be a full color two page spread with some ‘words of wisdom’ for lack of a better expression. Examples of this are, “Other people are not medicine,” and “Figure out what you want. Say it loud. Then shut up.” There are different kinds of poetry throughout the book, mostly comedic, and several instances of scanned documents (again, obviously, full color) from Amy’s life. A note from Hillary Clinton to her newborn son, acceptance speech notes, the original list of alternative names for her character Leslie Knope…things like that. Most of the photos included have the ‘scanned in’ look as well. If it is a polaroid, the original frame is included, etc. And lists. Many of the essays include either bulleted or detailed lists, as well as some random in-between chapter lists. Many are typed; at least one is hand written.
Most of this book is dedicated to Amy’s career in improv, although she shares many anecdotes from her childhood growing up near Boston, and lots of gossip about celebrities and what it’s like to be one. She admits that she is often insecure (in hilarious ways, the admissions, not the insecurities), and I feel like she is successful in empowering and supporting women through her story.
Amy was newly divorced as she wrote this book. It was obviously a very painful subject for her, but instead of ignoring it, or forcing herself to open up to the general public about her personal life, she handled the situation with tact. First, she acknowledged the situation; yes, she is divorced. Then, she confesses that it is an impossibly painful and sad thing that she doesn’t want to talk about. Instead, she ‘pitches’ titles and contents of divorce books she thinks should be written. This essay was one of my favorites in the book. She shared her sorrow and turned it into something people can relate to (without giving up her privacy), and brought in just the right amount of humor.
Another of my favorite parts was the essay near the end about her kids. It is clear she loves them fiercely, and she says it in such a way that warms your heart and makes you bust out laughing all at once. She is a great mother.
Reading celebrity memoirs is a dangerous thing, I’ve found. Several times by the time I finish a memoir, I no longer like or respect the authors in the least (Lance Armstrong, Mindy Kaling), but some memoirs make you smile and love a person even more. Yes Please was of the latter group, although I won’t go so far as to say it was one of my favorite memoirs. I feel a little bit like there was a lost connection with me somewhere in this book. It wasn’t on par with some great memoirs I’ve had the pleasure to read (My Sergei), but it was exactly perfect for the quick funny read I needed to jump start me back onto the path of reading, so for that, Amy, thank you.
Currently I am reading another non-fiction work, Into the Wild. I’ve heard so many people say they love it. Look for the review coming soon!