Friday, November 22, 2019

Over the Top - Jonathan Van Ness

Title: Over the Top
Author: Jonathan Van Ness
Format: Hardcover

Who gave Jonathan Van Ness permission to be the radiant human he is today? No one, honey.

The truth is, it hasn't always been gorgeous for this beacon of positivity and joy.

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix's hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn't understand why he was so…over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.

Over the Top uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen. JVN fans may think they know the man behind the stiletto heels, the crop tops, and the iconic sayings, but there's much more to him than meets the Queer Eye.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll come away knowing that no matter how broken or lost you may be, you're a Kelly Clarkson song, you're strong, and you've got this.

You'll notice I did not give this book a rating. Well.  Look - I adore JVN. I think he is one wonderful classy dude.  And I loved most of this book.  BUT, I feel like it is so hard to rate someone's memoir - I mean how the hell do you rate a story about somebody's life?! 

So, let's just say I loved JVN's story, and even though parts of this book were a bit clunky, I think it's good that he had the guts to share a part of his life that people are still very judgmental about. (I mean come on, it's 2019 - can we, for the love of all that is good in this world, stop treating people like crap just because they have HIV?!)

Anyway - if you've every watched the Queer Eye show on the Netflix you already know who Jonathan Van Ness is.  His fabulousness just sort of explodes any time he is talking with people about their hair and skin care stuff. 

But Honesty Time: I felt like JVN did use humor as way to avoid actually going to deep into his life in some places.  Like when he was talking about his childhood - and getting just to the edge of what it was like growing up in a small midwest town as a gay person, and he'd make hints about that, but stop before actually delving too deep into what that was like.

I think the biggest thing (that was pointed out in another review I read as well) is that JVN is not a writer - and this felt like he was just taking the way he would talk and putting it on paper without much change.  It made the book feel like I was being talked to by some random person about JVN's life, instead of actually having this well written story about his life.  I know it takes a lot of strength and guts to share your life with someone - especially, like I said, in a society that still strongly judges people (and especially gay men) who are HIV+.  But I felt like a good editor could have really helped JVN make this book not just a story but a really well written book.

So: Long story short: I adore JVN, and I liked his book and learning more about him. But the book itself could have been better edited and more well written.

No comments:

Post a Comment