Book Review: Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America

Finished Reading: Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America
by Leslie Knope

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: TV tie-in, humor


In season 4 of the show Parks and Recreation, the main character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) writes a book about her hometown of Pawnee. This is that book. Sort of. Filled with many show references and articles written by several other characters as well, this book showcases the best and worst of Pawnee. Mostly the worst.

Okay, I love Parks and Recreation. Honestly, it’s one of my absolute favorite comedies. Goodness knows why, though, considering the way it paints my neck of the woods as a bunch of racist, backwards idiots. At its best, it is laugh-out-loud funny, with hilarious characters brilliantly portrayed by some great actors. At its worst, it makes me cringe, roll my eyes, and sigh at the mockery it makes of small cities in the Midwest. Unfortunately, the book has plenty of the worst, but not enough of the best.

I think the book might be better read in snippets over time. The kind of thing you pick up, turn to a random spot, and read what’s there, then put it down and come back to it later. Reading it all the through over the course of a few weeks only highlights the fact that the city of Pawnee is just terrible. The people who Leslie touts as the best department in their city’s government are completely apathetic about the assignments she gives them for the book.

There are a few gems (an article written by Chris Traeger that had to be severely cut down for length, for example), and it did bring a smile to see references to some of my favorite aspects of the show. But overall, as a pretty hardcore fan, I think this just could have been better. Though the sad thing is that maybe it couldn’t have been, because Pawnee really is that bad. It’s just less obvious spread out over the show, which focuses more on the Parks Department than on the rest of the ridiculously dysfunctional town.

I would say that for fans of the show, it’s worth reading the book, but again, I’d suggest reading it as vignettes now and then, rather than cover to cover in only a few weeks.

Find out more about Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!