Book notes | Year of Yes

Shonda Rhimes is an American television producer best known as the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, its spinoff, Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal.

Year of Yes is a humorous, autobiographical account of her life. 

Many of us have had the experience of a sibling commenting on some aspect of our lives that we may not have considered or even been aware of. While we may or may not be surprised by the comment, we gain a perspective on ourselves we had not previously considered.  

In this case, the author’s sister tells Rhimes over a family, holiday meal that she never says yes to anything. It was one of those offhand comments that our siblings make without realizing the impact they can have on us.

Rhimes, an introvert, thought she was comfortable with her life. She was a single mom with three daughters, a very demanding job, and a nanny who helped her keep it all together. She “owned” Thursday nights on ABC with her very popular television shows. Her sister’s comment and the truth therein made Rhimes re-evaluate her life, and she decided to say yes for one year.  

Fears and insecurities
The book follows her life after the sister’s revelation and the author’s promise to herself to say yes. Two important outcomes of the year led Rhimes to tackle her fear of speaking in public and to adopt a healthier lifestyle to address lifelong weight issues. She was able to do this with the support of her children’s nanny who, Rhimes readily admits, took care of her, also. Rhimes speaks openly about her fears and insecurities.

Most of the UMRA Book Club members found the book difficult to get into and would not have read it on their own. But once they made it past the beginning, most found the book to be humorous and interesting, with some good points.  

Although Rhimes is a successful screenwriter, many members found her writing style in the book to be off-putting. Some thought her hectic but privileged life allowed Rhimes to say yes to opportunities others would not be able to embrace. We also thought the book could have been stronger with a firm hand of an editor.

Our discussion ended with many members wondering whether the author has continued down this new path.

—Laura Ericksen, UMRA Book Club member

Publication date: 
June 23, 2020
At A Glance
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

UMRA A.M. 
9 a.m.

Mapping prejudice 

Kirsten Delegard, PhD



Tuesday, October 20, 2020 

Living Well Workshop
11 a.m.

UMRA health plan options for open enrollment

Representatives from the Office of Human Resources and plan vendors



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

UMRA Forum
12 noon

Crisis in youth mental health
Kaz Nelson, PhD 



The University of Minnesota Retirees Association’s response to COVID-19 developments is aligned with the University's Safe Campus guidelines. 

Accordingly, all these events will be held via Zoom.