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Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

The year of YES- Shonda Rhimes

This book has been on my MUST READ booklist since the publication year 2015. I must confess, I have not always been a fan of non-fiction. In fact, 2018 is the year I started to venture out heavily into non-fiction and especially autobiographies and I have not regretted it. There’s just something about someone sharing insecurities, struggles and success with you to allow you to realize, heck! I’m not alone in this. People are people and shit happens, even to famous people, especially the ones we think have it all together.

I can’t say I am a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I did, however, watch 6 seasons non-stop before I emotionally tapped out. The same trajectory with Scandal and How to get away with Murder- I watch only one episode. Still, those series are GOLD. The stories so dramatic, so poignant and ooh so good. Why am I saying this? Well, it’s a tribute to who Shonda is. She is the real life Christina Yang with a pen. She gives Christina power in the operating room, the choice to choose herself over everyone and the Badassness of not apologizing for that either. After reading The Year of Yes, this is how I now view Shonda Rhimes, the real-life version of Christina.

The Year of Yes detail an entire year in the creator’s life where for everything that she would normally say no to she said Yes instead. Things such as; giving speeches, making appearances, going to parties and dinners she have been invited to and later- YES, to self-love, YES, to choosing her career (which she describes as her soul mate) over a relationship with a great man. YES to not allowing anyone making her feel less than, that included trimming some friends who were actually not friends but an opportunist who she was blinded to previously.

This book is laugh out loud funny. I mean, I read most of it on a Delta flight somewhere over the United States sitting beside a guy who was jolted out of his sleep from my yell laugh. Lol. And I did not apologize either. This is great writing that of course, we would get from a great TV writer. The best actually. One who is painfully self-aware and is not afraid to make jokes on her account. I mean, she started out by telling us she is a liar. She makes things up. She weaves dramatic tales and we love them. Oooh how we do love them.

Then there are the great inspirational bits. The parts that make you connect with the character… ermmmm I mean Shonda.

Whole people are drawn to happy, whole people, but nothing makes a toxic person more miserable and destructive than a happy, whole person.

Also, this about the expectations society have about women and marriage. Yes!! You feminist maverick

The presence of a man at my side had people as apologetic with joy as those old videos of people seeing Michael Jackson perform live…like my street value went up because a guy wanted me…

About happiness.

Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be… Be your own narrator.

This book comes at a time when I needed it so badly.

An absolute must-read.

Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

We’re going to need more wine- Gabrielle Union

I knew Gabriel Union from ‘Bring it on’ and ‘Deliver us from Eva’ long before I knew her between the pages of a book with a wine title which by the way is not mentioned in the book. hmmmm. Aaand- when I say ‘knew her’ I mean from my TV scene, you know in case you were wondering if I’m famous or…I’m rambling, anyway. What I found instead were some deep, personal stories about a woman in full acceptance and celebration of herself. A woman who is at such a point in her life where she is so comfortable in letting the world in on her secrets, her insecurities, her love, and her family.

The stories chronicled some of her childhood/teenage years growing up in Iowa, how she was the dark-skinned black girl and what that meant in that time and in that space. she introduced us to her family, her mother, and father and how she gained a bonus mom when her dad cheated- the bonus mom concept she would later on fully understand when she became a bonus mom herself with Dwayne Wade. It was so wholesome and joyful when she practically screamed on the pages about that time when she met Prince, the excitement and awe so pure and somewhat of a tribute to the late legend.

Some of my fave stories she told (And most resonating) were;

  1. ‘Code 261’ The story of how she was raped in that Payless store and the aftermath.

  2. ‘Get out my pussy’ Her not having kids and how insensitive people can be when asking not knowing of her struggles with getting pregnant and the numerous miscarriages that she have had.

  3. ‘Black girl blues’ how difficult it was for her to land roles in Hollywood as a black girl and even more so as a darker skin black girl

  4. ‘Warning: famous vaginas get itchy too’  LOL. you totally have to read this story!

I thank you, Gabrielle, for writing this book.  I get it now why the title is so apt. It is because the life you’ve lived and these snippets in stories that you have decided to share with us definitely need some wine (Red) in instances to get through, to celebrate, to ponder and for some, well, just because of a moment.

This was a very refreshing, light, funny, moving, poignant book. In the future when I am writing my autobiography I will remember this book, this is how I want people to feel when I share snippets of my life to strangers.

Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

Dreams from my father- Barack Obama

I took some time in writing this review in fear that I would not be able to express fully and deeply how I felt about this book. I was afraid that in describing my opinion it would just be viewed as something someone else had already said about it or if I was to voice any unpopular less than praise opinion it would be received with disdain. Nevertheless, as with all task that I take on in life, I attacked this head on-no grey areas. It was on one of my visits back home to ST. Mary, Jamaica that I discovered this gem among my Aunt Sandra’s Books, Of course later discovered it belonged to my aunt Jennifer after I posted my current read on Facebook, but, I digress. The most loved President is also a huge hit in Jamaica and we love him as much as we love our aunty Celine Dion. I was excited to learn more about this charismatic enigma and, I was not disappointed.

In Dreams from my father, Obama shared with us his early life- pre-president, the story of his father Barack Obama Snr and his inheritance through a vividly descriptive trip to Kenya “reclaiming” his inheritance. The story of his father began at what seemed to be the end, Barack received a phone call when he was in New York that his father had died. This led him down the road to a series of stories- his origins. He backtracked to Kansas telling us about his Mother’s family, his beloved grandmother and her husband. Why and how they move to Hawaii where he was born and grew up before moving to Indonesia with his Mother’s second husband. He describes Indonesia and life lessons learned there, moving back to Hawaii where he spends the rest of his life as a child. and to their move to Hawaii where he was born. The story continued with right before law school and before his visit to Kenya, Barack went to Chicago and worked as a community organizer.

Barack (Barry as he affectionately called) had met his father once, everything else that is known about him was through the stories his mother, grandmother and grandfather told him. This larger than life charismatic enigma. A dream, a thought and in instances an idol. It was not until Obama visited Kenya with his sister, sitting down with his aunts, his father’s other wife, and other relatives that the enigma of his father unraveled. A man who left a wife and two children to go to an American University, the family savior, his father, the learned politician, the wanderer and father of many children. The man had many flaws and many redeeming qualities. He loved to dance and could make anyone fall in love with him by just his very presence. This was the man that Barack came to know on that trip to Kenya.

The writing is matter-a-fact and unsentimental. At some point, it’s as if you a reading a story by someone who is separate and apart from the story. Maybe that’s the feeling that Obama wanted to create. He wanted the reader to feel just as he does, an outsider. This is a book I had to power through on many occasions. I wouldn’t say it got boring, more as information overload especially the chapters highlighting his community work in Chicago. This portion is not to be skipped over though as it will be important to be able to draw the parallels from his time there as against some of the events which happened in Kenya. Moreover, it was in Chicago that he first met his eldest brother who is an important character highlighting the theme of family which is woven throughout.

I would recommend this book if you are a big Obama fan or if you love autobiographies. There is a lot more meat here than you would find on Wikipedia however if you are looking for feelings and sentiments don’t waste your time.