Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir – Book Review
Hopefully many of you read my interview with Catherine Hiller, about a month back I was able to attend a reading of hers in St. John’s. For anyone who isn’t aware, Catherine Hiller is the author of Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir, a story about her love of cannabis that’s spanned 50 years. Not only does Catherine have a great personality, but she gives off this infectious, happy energy, it’s hard not to smile when you hear her speak…her voice is infectious! Catherine’s an East Coast lady and as soon as she started to read her own words you could tell. Imagine the mother of every tv character if the show was set in New York (picture George Costanza’s mom, but less shrill, if that helps). That voice, that infectious voice, it followed me up until I finished that book…whenever I read it, all I heard was Catherine and pictured what her expressions would be as I read every word. I guess that’s how you know someone is a good story teller? The fact that I only spent 1 ½ hours with this woman and I was reading HER book, in HER voice?
There are many things that make Just Say Yes unique, the subject matter for one, then there’s the author, but unless you buy, or read this book you won’t know that this memoir starts in present time and goes way back to when Catherine was a little girl. Not very many memoirs that I know of tell a story in that way, and that’s probably my favorite thing about Just Say Yes, it’s telling you a story backwards. That’s some Memento type shit…trippy duuuuuude.
After reading Just Say Yes, I must say that while I understand why Catherine chose to include a lot of the negative impacts cannabis can have on a person, I felt that with the frequency in which she mentions it gives anti-cannabis activists ammo to throw for those trying to fight the good fight. Not that I think she did this intentionally, Catherine is, after all telling us HER story, I just wonder if she could’ve found more ways to mention the positive ways in which cannabis has touched her life, other than the obvious: never been caught/arrested.
My favorite story from the book comes from chapter 13, Burning Man, where at age 60 Catherine decides to drive a Volkswagen camper to the Nevada Desert to partake in the festival and tries ecstasy for the first time. When I spoke with Catherine after the reading I attened, she had mentioned that some people gave her flack for “outing her dealer” in the first chapter. In this chapter she chronicles the lengths she goes through to score her weed. Street rules dictate that “snitches get stitches”, but in this case I feel like it should get a pass. For one she isn’t stupid enough to mention her dealer’s real name or location, but this chapter is a great way to let nonsmokers know what one goes through to score. The fear, the hurdles, the relief when you get home after achieving the goal.
Just Say Yes isn’t a groundbreaking memoir, but it is important because it’s not often that someone, especially a female, speak about cannabis use in their life with such great detail and at such great length. This book isn’t just for smokers, nonsmokers can enjoy Catherine’s story too. This is a memoir from a woman who has lived and sharing that with you. If you take anything from this book, let it be to live your life the best way you can, and if it involves weed, well spark it up!
You can follow Catherine on Twitter, Facebook, and you can share your own marijuana stories here. If you’re interested, please head over to Amazon to get your own copy of Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir.