Author: Amy Poehler
Type: Non-fiction, humor, memoir
I read it: November 2014
Amy Poehler has written a memoir from the “middle.” Right off the bat she acknowledges that at 42 she has a lot of experience but not really enough to do a wisdom-filled autobiography. She is arguably at the peak of her career, and her moderate fame is something she approaches with humility throughout. She’s not at all certain she should even be writing the book, but I think we benefit from its existence.
Rest assured that there is plenty of fun content about SNL and Parks and Recreation, but these are only pieces of the whole. There’s a lot more about Poehler’s youth, her parents, and her own two kids. She includes candid and funny accounts of family, dating, sex, childbirth, philanthropy, showbusiness, and everyday life. Her bold section names—Say Whatever You Want, Do Whatever You Like, Be Whoever You Are—are mantras that handily frame the passion and insecurities of the author. They come across more as goals than checked-off achievements.
Poehler spends a lot of pages chronicling her years with the Upright Citizens Brigade, which seems a bit romanticized, but I think that’s just because she’s a hardcore romantic. She loves people and life and love. She airs her mistakes. The book has more reflection than forced cleverness, such as this guiding principle:
Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive, and I believe it extends our life by many years.
Colorful, generous, funny, warm, erratic—words that describe Amy Poehler, or her book? Another one: honest. I may have picked up the book at Target, but I don’t think it was written as a cash-grab. It’s just a message from the middle.