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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

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‘Over The Top [is] a lightning bolt – devastating and stirring … generous and frank.’ The Guardian 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 , Jon ‘Over The Top [is] a lightning bolt – devastating and stirring … generous and frank.’ The Guardian 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.


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‘Over The Top [is] a lightning bolt – devastating and stirring … generous and frank.’ The Guardian 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 , Jon ‘Over The Top [is] a lightning bolt – devastating and stirring … generous and frank.’ The Guardian 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.

30 review for Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    JVN is not a writer. He is a personality. I suspicioned this going into the memoir and feel even more sure of that now. His voice does not translate to the page well: The tangents and analogies that I usually find engaging when he speaks come across as tedious and clumsy here, likely because they are not visually demarcated in any way (i.e. for the love of Michelle Kwan, just use fucking footnotes). He tells rather than shows. He preaches about the importance of vulnerability, but he practices i JVN is not a writer. He is a personality. I suspicioned this going into the memoir and feel even more sure of that now. His voice does not translate to the page well: The tangents and analogies that I usually find engaging when he speaks come across as tedious and clumsy here, likely because they are not visually demarcated in any way (i.e. for the love of Michelle Kwan, just use fucking footnotes). He tells rather than shows. He preaches about the importance of vulnerability, but he practices it uneasily. He glosses over significant details, imposes distance through sarcasm, and frequently reverts to trite book-reporty rhetoric. (At one point, he literally inserts a report he did in the 6th grade as a means to delay talking about heavy shit.) There are redundancies aplenty. There are some waffling values, too: He extolls the virtues of body positivity, but he also uses blatantly fatphobic language to disparage past feelings and behaviors and to villainously depict a past sexual partner. On the whole, I appreciate JVN's willingness to tell his story. That takes a lot of guts, especially considering certain details could jeopardize his burgeoning mainstream acceptance. I just wish it had been told in a more compelling way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Pham

    I really appreciate hearing the stories of admirable people like Jonathan who have been through so much trauma and hardship and still come out of it fiercely positive and kind - not just to others but to themselves. The book is written in a conversational style that might be off-putting to people who aren’t familiar with JVN, but I think it helped show their personality if you have seen them from Queer Eye. Jonathan sheds light on the trauma that many LGBT+ people face, all the while reflecting I really appreciate hearing the stories of admirable people like Jonathan who have been through so much trauma and hardship and still come out of it fiercely positive and kind - not just to others but to themselves. The book is written in a conversational style that might be off-putting to people who aren’t familiar with JVN, but I think it helped show their personality if you have seen them from Queer Eye. Jonathan sheds light on the trauma that many LGBT+ people face, all the while reflecting on how we can take our hardships and turn them into more emboldened initiatives for self-love.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I’ve decided to start not rating biographies and memoirs because, to me, I feel a bit wrong rating someone’s life and experiences which are wholly valid and important to them. What I will say is that I love Queer Eye, and I love Jonathan’s effervescent personality. I think they are incredibly brave for telling their story, and the reasons for doing so are wonderful and informative. They are such an intelligent, wholesome human being who knows they have faults and flaws but is learning to embrace I’ve decided to start not rating biographies and memoirs because, to me, I feel a bit wrong rating someone’s life and experiences which are wholly valid and important to them. What I will say is that I love Queer Eye, and I love Jonathan’s effervescent personality. I think they are incredibly brave for telling their story, and the reasons for doing so are wonderful and informative. They are such an intelligent, wholesome human being who knows they have faults and flaws but is learning to embrace them. It sends a powerful, positive message. This read exactly as if Jonathan was telling it to me, and yes sometimes the writing style grated with all the catchphrases and shortening of words, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it any less. I felt that I got a good grasp of what makes Jonathan who they are, with a cold hard look at the good and bad times in life, while being able to warm to their character. I’m really glad this won the Goodreads Choice awards, because my God we need more voices like this out there for the LGBTQ+ community.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karin-Isabella O'Connor

    Fabulous book. Honest, raw, funny and heartbreaking. This won't be the last time I read this book. I feel the need to watch the Queer Eye series from the beginning again now. Jonathan Van Ness is such a Beautiful Soul.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin (Irish Reader)

    This made me cry with laughter and cry with sympathy all in the same chapter CW: homophobia, sexual assault, depression, suicidal thoughts, death I loved this biography so much! I’ve been a fan of Jonathan since season 1 of Queer Eye and I’ve always wanted to hear their story. This book lived up to my expectations and then some more. I didn’t expect to feel so seen and resonate with so many of the topics discussed in this book. It made me laugh, made me cry, all of the feels and I’m just so glad I This made me cry with laughter and cry with sympathy all in the same chapter CW: homophobia, sexual assault, depression, suicidal thoughts, death I loved this biography so much! I’ve been a fan of Jonathan since season 1 of Queer Eye and I’ve always wanted to hear their story. This book lived up to my expectations and then some more. I didn’t expect to feel so seen and resonate with so many of the topics discussed in this book. It made me laugh, made me cry, all of the feels and I’m just so glad I picked it up. Amazing!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cristina Monica

    I got to know Jonathan Van Ness through this memoir. I had no idea who he was before, but because of how open he was about his past and present experiences and mistakes in this, I feel like I know him so much more now. The last 30 pages were long, since I wasn't at all familiar with his shows, but the rest was very entertaining and made me feel connected to JVN. Recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    The biography of Jonathan Van Ness of the Fab 5 of Queer Eye. I do love that show. Talk about feel good and making the world a better place, that show spreads the love and sparkles like no other. When I'm feeling down, I will put that show on and Jonathan is the sparkle fairy of the show. He is the secret of it's greatness. His super positive attitude and off the wall-totally-hilarious sayings that come out of his mouth are drop dead funny and make the show over the top fabulous. It's takes all The biography of Jonathan Van Ness of the Fab 5 of Queer Eye. I do love that show. Talk about feel good and making the world a better place, that show spreads the love and sparkles like no other. When I'm feeling down, I will put that show on and Jonathan is the sparkle fairy of the show. He is the secret of it's greatness. His super positive attitude and off the wall-totally-hilarious sayings that come out of his mouth are drop dead funny and make the show over the top fabulous. It's takes all 5 to make it work. Anyway, Jonathan has been through some stuff: sex, drugs, eating issues, body issues and relationship issues. She's 100% human. One thing that strikes me is how often and how many famous people seem to battle drugs and sex and other things. It seems to me people who do that are the very people who usually say 'YES' to all things in life. They aren't afraid and so fear doesn't hold them back. They say yes over and over until they make something of themselves. I'm sure not everyone does that, but it does seem to be a thing. Jonathan was the queen of his school and he got called plenty of horrible names. It made him stronger. I wish I had had that courage as a kid and let that stuff not stop me. It made me shy and too scared to say yes to much. I love Jonathan's sparkles and his yes to live and being 100% himself. He has all the good and bad of a person like rest of us and he can bring sunshine into so many people's lives. This was a great read and I had fun reading it. It was touching and funny and lifted me up for the day. I love a good biography. Famous people tell great stories, well, most of them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    CW: sexual abuse, drug use, eating disorders, toxic relationships, sex addiction, cancer, death of a loved one, homophobia, bullying, and HIV Today, I took the day off my practicum because I needed a mental health day. So, I decided to pick up some library books that I need to read. This was one of them. I sat there and read it in a few hours. One sitting. Just read it straight through. This is amazing. It's a deep and heartfelt look at Jonathan Van Ness. Not all of it is pretty, but he brings his CW: sexual abuse, drug use, eating disorders, toxic relationships, sex addiction, cancer, death of a loved one, homophobia, bullying, and HIV Today, I took the day off my practicum because I needed a mental health day. So, I decided to pick up some library books that I need to read. This was one of them. I sat there and read it in a few hours. One sitting. Just read it straight through. This is amazing. It's a deep and heartfelt look at Jonathan Van Ness. Not all of it is pretty, but he brings his humor and optimism to the page even as he's writing about the hard things that he's gone through in his life. All of those harsh things brought him to where he is today. Queer Eye is just a footnote in his story. He talks about what he did before that, good and bad. Queer Eye is just the last chapter that the book deals with. I loved how honestly he talked about his experiences. As I said, they aren't pretty. They're a lot of the typical stuff that you hear about with queer stories. I also love that he acknowledges that to have good, happy queer stories that we have to confront the ugly things that are past and current actualities to be able to have those good ones. It was just a great book. I didn't expect to read it as quickly as I did, but that's what happened because it was so good. Highly recommend this one if you're going to read a celebrity memoir!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I don’t know, it just makes me happy that this guy exists. I have had a rough couple of years mental-health wise, and queer eye, and JVN in particular, have consistently brought happy tears and smiles. There is something about his energy that inspires me to be less of a misery-guts. Which is a good thing. As for the book - well it is not exactly literary genius, but that is not the point. It is his voice, and certainly not polished by a ghost writer. Reading about all the brutal shit he has been I don’t know, it just makes me happy that this guy exists. I have had a rough couple of years mental-health wise, and queer eye, and JVN in particular, have consistently brought happy tears and smiles. There is something about his energy that inspires me to be less of a misery-guts. Which is a good thing. As for the book - well it is not exactly literary genius, but that is not the point. It is his voice, and certainly not polished by a ghost writer. Reading about all the brutal shit he has been through makes his attitude toward life even more impressive. Plus seeing him on the cover has encouraged conversations with my 8 year old about how he wants to wear dresses sometimes because he thinks they are cool. Which of course he can. All hail Queen JVN. Long may he reign.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    "It’s not gonna be pretty, but it’s my truth, and if I don’t share it, I won’t be able to help others who are struggs to func." In Over the Top, Jonathan Van Ness uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-care and acceptance that Jonathan is today. Fans of Queer Eye will LOVE this one! There is so much more to JVN than meets the eye, and in this memoir he opens up about all of his parts. It's raw and unflinching, as he shows that even for an effervescent positive p "It’s not gonna be pretty, but it’s my truth, and if I don’t share it, I won’t be able to help others who are struggs to func." In Over the Top, Jonathan Van Ness uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-care and acceptance that Jonathan is today. Fans of Queer Eye will LOVE this one! There is so much more to JVN than meets the eye, and in this memoir he opens up about all of his parts. It's raw and unflinching, as he shows that even for an effervescent positive person like he is, life has not always been sunshine and rainbows. This one will put you through the emotional wringer - if you aren't laughing, you're crying. I also would highly recommend the audiobook as JVN narrates it himself and it is one of the best audio experiences I've ever had. Absolutely pissing myself laughing while out listening on my daily walks, and then shedding a tear or two... At the very beginning of the book, JVN asks if you will still love him once you know everything he has been through - and yes i still do! Even more so, in fact. All the stars for this one! 5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Jonathan Van Ness has written the best of the Queer Eye books and it is SO GOOD 🙌 He’s the only one of the four who have books out now who didn’t use a ghost writer. I felt Karamo and Tan’s books were sanitized and felt fake, but Jonathan’s is overflowing with realness. He speaks frankly about some seriously hard shit in his life, including being sexually assaulted as a child, bullying, dropping out of college, working as an escort, developing a sexual compulsivity, getting addicted to meth, losi Jonathan Van Ness has written the best of the Queer Eye books and it is SO GOOD 🙌 He’s the only one of the four who have books out now who didn’t use a ghost writer. I felt Karamo and Tan’s books were sanitized and felt fake, but Jonathan’s is overflowing with realness. He speaks frankly about some seriously hard shit in his life, including being sexually assaulted as a child, bullying, dropping out of college, working as an escort, developing a sexual compulsivity, getting addicted to meth, losing his stepdad, and receiving an HIV positive diagnosis. He is 32 years old and has lived so much life. His honesty and frankness was refreshing. I loved all the connections he made to therapy and what he’s learned about himself. This book shines and is full of so much amazing advice without coming across as preachy. Plus, Jonathan includes his sixth grade report on the Bill Clinton sex scandal, and it’s super entertaining. Read this book, listen to his podcast, and respect this wonderful human 👏👏👏

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Oh, what a sweet memoir this is. I'm a fan of the Netflix show "Queer Eye," and Jonathan Van Ness is one of my favorite people on it. JVN's memoir is filled with both funny and sad stories, all told with his signature flair and charm. I listened to "Over the Top" on audio, read by JVN himself, and if you're a fan of his I highly recommend this performance. His energy is infectious, and he manages to write about his traumatic experiences with grace and humor. For example, before getting into one Oh, what a sweet memoir this is. I'm a fan of the Netflix show "Queer Eye," and Jonathan Van Ness is one of my favorite people on it. JVN's memoir is filled with both funny and sad stories, all told with his signature flair and charm. I listened to "Over the Top" on audio, read by JVN himself, and if you're a fan of his I highly recommend this performance. His energy is infectious, and he manages to write about his traumatic experiences with grace and humor. For example, before getting into one especially difficult part of his life, JVN shares with the reader an essay he wrote as a boy about the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, and it was hilarious. Then he takes a breath and shares a tough story. Recommended for fans of the show "Queer Eye" and readers interested in LGBTQ memoirs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I do not read a lot of celebrity memoirs, but this one is a must for anyone who is a Queer Eye fan or, really, anyone who has gone through a trauma. The self-help aspects of this book are infused with actual therapeutic principles not just buzzwords and "cheer up" nonsense -- he actually brings up a lot of the stuff that I've talked about with my own therapist as I've been working to process my own long-simmering trauma. Plus, he reads the audiobook himself and that is delightful. Not only does I do not read a lot of celebrity memoirs, but this one is a must for anyone who is a Queer Eye fan or, really, anyone who has gone through a trauma. The self-help aspects of this book are infused with actual therapeutic principles not just buzzwords and "cheer up" nonsense -- he actually brings up a lot of the stuff that I've talked about with my own therapist as I've been working to process my own long-simmering trauma. Plus, he reads the audiobook himself and that is delightful. Not only does he use the goofy language Queer Eye fans will be familiar with ("strugs to func"), but you can also tell that he is choking up a bit when he discusses the difficult stuff and that infuses the audiobook with so much emotion that I was in tears for much of it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Gold

    Listened to the audiobook on a road trip I highly recommend the audiobook since the author narrates it. If you like a narrator who doesn’t hide their personality and is open to sharing the lowest and highest points of their life with a mixture of humor and a promise of optimism you’ll love this book. To answer the question asked at the start of the book, would I love you if I knew everything you’ve been through—-YES!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katey Moore

    I listened to the audiobook version of this book and it felt very much like Jonathan was reading a report. The style felt very forced. I love him to death, but it was not an easy book to listen to. The book itself was also kind of confusing-- like 1/2 memoir, 1/4 self-help 1/4 advocacy. I am glad I read it because I LOVE JVN and I appreciate the look into his darkest secrets and I am glad to know more about being HIV positive and the stigma people are still dealing with in 2019.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lilith Black Bee

    DNF at 50% As much as I love Jonathan with all my heart, I had to DNF this simply because the audio doesn't work for me. It's not at all about him, it's my inability to listen to audiobooks. I have thought that listening to this one would be helpful, but no, now I know for sure that I can't listen to audiobooks... If there will be a printed version of it (from what I know just the audio was available on scribd) I will DEFINITELY pick it up because his story is amazing and heartbreaking and helped DNF at 50% As much as I love Jonathan with all my heart, I had to DNF this simply because the audio doesn't work for me. It's not at all about him, it's my inability to listen to audiobooks. I have thought that listening to this one would be helpful, but no, now I know for sure that I can't listen to audiobooks... If there will be a printed version of it (from what I know just the audio was available on scribd) I will DEFINITELY pick it up because his story is amazing and heartbreaking and helped me realize some important stuff about me!!! You can follow my TWITTER If you want to support me, you can check my WHISHLIST Get 2 months of free books HERE

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pantelis Andreou

    Jonathan Van Ness is life! This book is life! Genuinely funny, extremely heartfelt & heartbreaking at the same time! For god’s love just read it! I hope one day to listen to the audiobook as well! Keep slaying queen!!! Jonathan Van Ness is life! This book is life! Genuinely funny, extremely heartfelt & heartbreaking at the same time! For god’s love just read it! I hope one day to listen to the audiobook as well! Keep slaying queen!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Krystin Rachel

    Book Blog | Bookstagram |“You know those plants that are always trying to find the light? Maybe they were planted in a location that didn’t necessarily facilitate growth, but inexplicably they make a circuitous route to not only survive but bloom into a beautiful plant. That was me—my whole life.” Opening Queen: Raw and unapologetic Main Yasss Honey!: A radiant human Fabulous Truthy-ness: Fiercedom and realness. Let’s take a break from doom, gloom, death and viruses to cloak ourselves in the bright a Book Blog | Bookstagram |“You know those plants that are always trying to find the light? Maybe they were planted in a location that didn’t necessarily facilitate growth, but inexplicably they make a circuitous route to not only survive but bloom into a beautiful plant. That was me—my whole life.” Opening Queen: Raw and unapologetic Main Yasss Honey!: A radiant human Fabulous Truthy-ness: Fiercedom and realness. Let’s take a break from doom, gloom, death and viruses to cloak ourselves in the bright and shining warmth that is Jonathan Van Ness. This isn’t what I usually read, but this felt like the perfect time for it. Also, I love Queer Eye, because duh. His memoir, Over the Top, is an optimistic telling of a life that has been full of struggles, wrong turns, bad decisions and amazing turnarounds. If you don’t watch Queer Eye (WHY THO?!), maybe you have no interest in Van Ness or his journey from a small, bigoted little town to Netflix, where he’s become, in my opinion, a beacon of joy, self-acceptance, love and honesty. I mean, really, he just makes the world a better place, and that’s a fact. |“There’s a rhyme and reason behind my effervescent spirit, and no, I did not wake up like this. It took a lot of trauma and tears to become the person you see today.” Van Ness has gone through SOME SHIT in this life – whether it was body issues, bullying, mental health struggles, drugs and addiction, or his candid revelation of his HIV+ status. Van Ness makes it clear through his writing that even though he has a bubbly, extroverted personality on our screens, he’s only human. And humans are complicated, layered and emotional creatures. So much goes into becoming who we are, and some of those things aren’t going to match the perception people have of us. It’s so easy, so natural, to judge a book by the cover. It’s easy to make a full judgement on a person based on what they wear, how they look or how they act in certain situations. But you know you’re more than that. So why wouldn’t everybody else be? Maybe this book will be an exercise is actively looking beneath the surface of those around us before making writing someone off as just one thing; as just a TV personality who seems just one way. We are all so much more interesting, vibrant and complex than that. Learning what’s beneath the surface of Van Ness was a pleasure. |“Because when you have this much personality, there’s a fear lurking just below the surface: If you knew all of me, you wouldn’t love me anymore.” He is happy, optimistic and a bright light in a dark world. But he’s also moody, serious, smart and experienced. He’s political, an advocate, well-spoken, funny and introspective. I listened to this on audio and I highly suggest you do the same, though I suspect you’ll hear that signature tone when you read the words, regardless. Over the Top is a vulnerable, bright, honest, funny and heartfelt read that is sure to bring a pop of colour to your life right now when everything is so bleak and chaotic. Wash your hands & read this book! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 5 stars!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    4.5 “As scary as this can be I want you to know no matter how broken you feel, and how seemingly unlikely it is, we are never too broken to heal.” ... If you didn't know, I love Netflix's Queer Eye. The whole cast - Tan, Bobby, Antoni, Karamo, and Jonathan - are all wonderful, and I was ecstatic to hear Jonathan was writing their own book! Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is a memoir chronicling JVN's story from when they were a child growing up in a small mid-western town to their eventual 4.5 “As scary as this can be I want you to know no matter how broken you feel, and how seemingly unlikely it is, we are never too broken to heal.” ... If you didn't know, I love Netflix's Queer Eye. The whole cast - Tan, Bobby, Antoni, Karamo, and Jonathan - are all wonderful, and I was ecstatic to hear Jonathan was writing their own book! Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is a memoir chronicling JVN's story from when they were a child growing up in a small mid-western town to their eventual success as a flamboyant, badass hairdresser on Queer Eye. I picked up the audio book, and was instantly drawn in by Jonathan's unique, hilarious narrative voice. If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing Jonathan speak, you know what I mean. It was fun and interesting, hearing about Jonathan's early life as a very gay child in a very conservative small town. From a young age, Jonathan was wholly unique: their great loves were (and still are) pop-tarts, gymnastics, and figure skating, and despite the horrible trauma they faced as a young kid, JVN's memoir radiates positivity, love, and truth. It gives me hope when I read about such radiant, loving people like Jonathan - they've been through so much, exprienced so much. I can't even begin to wonder how they made it out, but then again, Jonathan details their healing process in unflinching, raw honesty. There's no one path towards recovery, and their own story is proof of the resilience and perseverance that lives in all of us. Jonathan's story also specifically sheds a light on the bullying and trauma many young people in the LGBTQIA+ community face everyday. Some lines in here touched me deeply, and I appreciated how Jonathan specifically pointed out their privilege and how grateful they were for their family. JVN's mom (who's a badass lady) and her relationship with Jonathan's stepfather specifically warmed my heart. Despite Jonathan's vibrant, confident personality, the vulnerability and aching loneliness they suffered through in their early life hit me hard. I think anyone who was different growing up can relate to JVN's struggles. I certainly did. “Because when you have this much personality, there’s a fear lurking just below the surface: If you knew all of me, you wouldn’t love me anymore.” This book made me laugh, inspired me, and broke my heart in half. Jonathan's story, which is filled with love, loss, trauma, and intense recovery from addiction, never failed to exude JVN's beautiful soul. I usually don't read memoirs, but this was a great one to listen to, and I found it to be a very inspiring, important read. If you love Queer Eye, or just want to read a moving memoir, pick this up. It was wonderful! ... “You know those plants that are always trying to find the light? Maybe they were planted in a location that didn’t necessarily facilitate growth, but inexplicably they make a circuitous route to not only survive but bloom into a beautiful plant. That was me—my whole life.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    If you like JVN, you'll like his memoir. There's a lot of important stuff packed in here, most of which is pretty out there now. It's JVN's voice through and through, so if you read it in print, you'll hear his inflections and appreciate how it translates. My one quibble is less on JVN and more about how insidious fatphobia is, as there were a few times when the "jokes" leaned on body shape and size (there's a line about a "human soft serve" or something similar about the body of an intimate par If you like JVN, you'll like his memoir. There's a lot of important stuff packed in here, most of which is pretty out there now. It's JVN's voice through and through, so if you read it in print, you'll hear his inflections and appreciate how it translates. My one quibble is less on JVN and more about how insidious fatphobia is, as there were a few times when the "jokes" leaned on body shape and size (there's a line about a "human soft serve" or something similar about the body of an intimate partner). He's never cruel toward body size, save sometimes his own, but given how accepting and encouraging he is about others, it's more about how imbedded this stuff is on us culturally.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janine

    4.5 stars, rounded up. After a really disappointing experience with Tan's book (I still love you Tan, I just struggled with your book - sorry!), I was so hesitant with this one. I didn't want anything to ruin the GORGEOUS view I have of JVN. I am happy to report this did not at all disappoint. It's such an honest, vulnerable, well-written book, and I'm so glad he was brave enough to share his story. I think what is most remarkable about it is how relatable it is, even from the outset. I mean, asi 4.5 stars, rounded up. After a really disappointing experience with Tan's book (I still love you Tan, I just struggled with your book - sorry!), I was so hesitant with this one. I didn't want anything to ruin the GORGEOUS view I have of JVN. I am happy to report this did not at all disappoint. It's such an honest, vulnerable, well-written book, and I'm so glad he was brave enough to share his story. I think what is most remarkable about it is how relatable it is, even from the outset. I mean, aside from that fact that he literally mentions HANSON on page one (always a selling point for me), before the first chapter was through I found tears springing to my eyes at the honesty of what he was saying - He talks about how underneath his joyful, exuberant persona, lies this fear that "if you knew all of me, you wouldn't love me anymore." And I'll be damned if that isn't a fear I live with every single day of my life - do we all harbor that within us? He goes on to say, in the next paragraph: I love everything packaged up neatly and put into an easily understandable box. I continue to realize that this is now how life works. Joy can live beside sorrow. Life is messy, unpredictable, and seldom tied into neat little boxes . I knew by page 7 I was going to love this book, and love it I did. Van Ness shares those various pieces that make him the person he is. It's his story, for sure, and at times it is a difficult one to reconcile with the person we see on our television screens, if only because it's hard to believe that someone who seems to have such a joy for life and comfort living in his own skin has been through so much pain in his life. I think it's interesting the way he chooses to tell his story too. It's so easy to hear his voice as you're reading the pages (in fact, if you had never heard him speak, I would think there are a few turns of phrase that I don't know how they would read without his voice in your head). And he doesn't shy away from sharing some of the darkest things he's been through - abuse, bullying, addiction. Yet, he covers them without making a big deal out of them, if that makes sense. He doesn't gloss over the fact that he was sexually abuse at a young age, for example - he acknowledges that it happened, as well as the trauma it caused well into adulthood and the struggles that occurred when he told his family about it. But he also doesn't go into the gory details, as sometimes happens in books like this. He doesn't need to - his story makes its point without that. I think one of the things that really stood out as I read was his ability - as an older, healthier version of himself - to look at some of those darkest times from a distance. To see what was really going on when he made the choices he did, or to understand that his parents were just doing the best they could for him, within the limitations of who they were as people. He really touched on the fact that we are all flawed. We all have pain, and we have all carried our trauma and experiences with us into our lives. We can be forgiven our mistakes - we just have to keep trying to do better. To be the best version of ourselves. A version of ourselves that WE are comfortable with, not one validated by those around us. His story is powerful and raw and I love him all the more for sharing it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pam Faste aka Peejakers

    JVN tells his story in a rambling, sometimes slightly uneven way, but I not only really enjoyed this, I got a lot out of it on a personal level, in a serious kind of way. He is, of course, OTT AF in all the ways, what else? And irrepressibly loquacious, endearingly goofy, often hilarious, gloriously queer and nonbinary, and just, in every other way, unapologetically his own beautiful self.  And I appreciate the way he doesn't present a curated version of himself here, "the sweetheart of Queereye JVN tells his story in a rambling, sometimes slightly uneven way, but I not only really enjoyed this, I got a lot out of it on a personal level, in a serious kind of way. He is, of course, OTT AF in all the ways, what else? And irrepressibly loquacious, endearingly goofy, often hilarious, gloriously queer and nonbinary, and just, in every other way, unapologetically his own beautiful self.  And I appreciate the way he doesn't present a curated version of himself here, "the sweetheart of Queereye", but reveals himself very much "warts and all", i.e., as a human being with weaknesses & flaws, who has had dark times, who lives with the effects of trauma and a chronic physical condition, who has made mistakes; as someone who has been and will continue to be a mess at times - as will we all. And that's not only brave. It makes it all the more powerful, his message of self-acceptance as embodied by this book. He really, really gets it about that. Lots of his story resonated, though my life on the face of it has been nothing like his. But that's kinda the thing with resonance, it's not the specific details that matter. I think this is my favorite quote: "I found a lot of my healing when I realized my suffering didn't undo my joy." That is, wow, yeah, such an important truth and one not easily arrived at. You can read or think and even believe words like that, and still not really get it. Until you do. And then it's life changing. The dedication of this book makes a perfect recc:  "Imperfection is beautiful. To anyone who has ever felt broken beyond repair, this is for you. If you've ever been excluded or told you were not enough, know that you are enough, and beautifully complete."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    When it comes to JVN, I feel that my review should come with a disclaimer: If I knew everything about him, would I love him anyway? The answer is a resounding "YES!" He is a beautifully flawed human being who admits to his share of struggles and mistakes... who has endured some tremendously painful experiences and who, with grace, honesty, and vulnerability, has not only spoken candidly about these moments, but emerged from the trauma triumphant, ready to share his path towards healing, and ulti When it comes to JVN, I feel that my review should come with a disclaimer: If I knew everything about him, would I love him anyway? The answer is a resounding "YES!" He is a beautifully flawed human being who admits to his share of struggles and mistakes... who has endured some tremendously painful experiences and who, with grace, honesty, and vulnerability, has not only spoken candidly about these moments, but emerged from the trauma triumphant, ready to share his path towards healing, and ultimately, build a gorgeous career in entertainment. Having said all this... and having enjoyed listening to his audiobook narration and to his compelling story... I still did not care for the WAY he writes. There was something about his memoir's style that just didn't work for me. Maybe it was all the comparisons to moments in Olympic figure skating history... maybe it was the inclusion of his 6th grade report on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal... I don't know... but either way, the combination of and inclusion of these elements in his storytelling took me a little bit away from the emotional significance of his earlier narrative.

  24. 5 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: sexual abuse of a child, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating, bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, death of a grandparent, cancer, death of a step-parent, disordered eating, mental health. First things first: if any of the above is triggering to you, be very careful going into this one. JVN is very frank in the things he did in his younger years and the impact it's had on his life. And he doesn't pull his punches in talking about the things he did. Anyway. This book is v Trigger warnings: sexual abuse of a child, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating, bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, death of a grandparent, cancer, death of a step-parent, disordered eating, mental health. First things first: if any of the above is triggering to you, be very careful going into this one. JVN is very frank in the things he did in his younger years and the impact it's had on his life. And he doesn't pull his punches in talking about the things he did. Anyway. This book is very on brand/in character with the JVN that we see on Queer Eye and social media. And in some ways, I feel like this would have worked better as an audiobook where you literally have him telling you his own story, because there were elements of the way that he talks that...are just a tiny bit cringe on the page. But on the whole, I really enjoyed reading this and getting to see JVN use the platform he's been given to speak his truth.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    A truly remarkable memoir, especially from someone so young. A lot of wisdom and courage here we can all use as an example for how to be our most authentic selves.

  26. 5 out of 5

    *mk*

    This book will both break your heart and inspire you. Van Ness talks about their childhood and adulthood, both the good and the not-so-good, with their signature voice and energy and positive attitude. It was heartbreaking reading about the challenges they have faced and continues to face to this day, especially when you read it in the JVN voice, which is so prevalent here. I recommend this to anyone who has suffered through some kind of addiction or abuse or trauma, whether or not you are a fan This book will both break your heart and inspire you. Van Ness talks about their childhood and adulthood, both the good and the not-so-good, with their signature voice and energy and positive attitude. It was heartbreaking reading about the challenges they have faced and continues to face to this day, especially when you read it in the JVN voice, which is so prevalent here. I recommend this to anyone who has suffered through some kind of addiction or abuse or trauma, whether or not you are a fan of Queer Eye. It was very good and sad and funny and over the top and very raw and open, wow the amount of personal info they shared was a lot and I imagine this process must have been hard for them but also very therapeutic. Anyway, y'all should read this. If you aren't a fan of JVN/Queer Eye you might find it a tiny bit challenging getting used to their voice, which is very them, but I think it is worth it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    Oops I read the whole book today 💁🏽‍♀️ it was beyond amazing

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    “Imperfection is beautiful. To anyone who has ever felt broken beyond repair, this is for you. If you’ve ever been excluded, or told you were not enough, know that you are enough, and beautifully complete.” JONATHON VAN NESS Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathon Van Ness is everything I thought it would be. If you don’t know who JVN is, then you need to find out! JVN is on the Netflix series, Queer Eye. Jonathon, Bobby, Karamo, Antoni, and Tan are invited into people's lives to help “Imperfection is beautiful. To anyone who has ever felt broken beyond repair, this is for you. If you’ve ever been excluded, or told you were not enough, know that you are enough, and beautifully complete.” JONATHON VAN NESS Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathon Van Ness is everything I thought it would be. If you don’t know who JVN is, then you need to find out! JVN is on the Netflix series, Queer Eye. Jonathon, Bobby, Karamo, Antoni, and Tan are invited into people's lives to help them find their best self! It is by far the most positive show on Netflix. It is just PURE LOVE and we need so much of that, especially in these times. Jonathon’s memoir is the first Queer Eye memoir I have listened to but I fully intend to read them all. Jonathon comes from Quincy, Illinois. He lived with his parents and brothers and was openly gay. He was bullied constantly. However, he was always accepted by his mom and stepdad. He goes into details about his gymnastics and figure skating obsession and adds a few funny stories here and there. However, this book is about a journey. He was sexually abused by another boy at church when he was just a kid. With that and the bullying, he became self-destructive. “Just because we mess up doesn’t mean all the lessons we learned are undone. Healing can be imperfect.” JONATHON VAN NESS His journey is not a straight line. He rises and falls. He discusses sexual encounters, drug issues, and HIV positive diagnoses. There are powerful lessons and self-discovery. OMG. JVN, be my best friend. PLEASE. Not only is this book a real eye-opening view into the LGBTQ community, but it also goes into self-discovery. I am not a part of the LGBTQ community but I support them and would consider myself an ally. I want to learn, so I can help elevate their voices and be able to empathize with them. My heart absolutely broke when he discussed the bullying and how he was not accepted in his family and community. I may not understand what it is like to be in the LGBTQ community but I am a survivor of sexual assault. And I did go down the self-destructive route too. I did not do drugs but I did party and would hang around people who did not have my best interests at heart. I can relate to not being believed and how my parents did not know how to handle this news. They were very similar in which they kept it “hush, hush.” There were several moments when he spoke his truth and I had to stop and take it in because it was something that really made sense to me. I love that JVN narrates his own book. He is TRULY OUTRAGEOUS. There were also moments where you can hear the emotional tension in his voice. I could feel that his tears were on the surface but he was trying to hold back. I wish I could just give him all the hugs. This book made me laugh and cry. Definitely watch Queer Eye and read this book! 5 FABULOUS stars!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Stafinski

    If you're planning on reading this, I highly suggest you listen to the audio version that's read by JVN himself. Hearing him tell his own story in his own voice truly makes the experience. I've always loved Queer Eye, and Jonathon was always my favorite-- as he is many people's fav because of his upbeat, bubbly, and sweet personality. So hearing about where he came from, the hardships and struggles he faced, and how he overcame his demons to become this beautiful, gorgeous human is super inspiri If you're planning on reading this, I highly suggest you listen to the audio version that's read by JVN himself. Hearing him tell his own story in his own voice truly makes the experience. I've always loved Queer Eye, and Jonathon was always my favorite-- as he is many people's fav because of his upbeat, bubbly, and sweet personality. So hearing about where he came from, the hardships and struggles he faced, and how he overcame his demons to become this beautiful, gorgeous human is super inspiring. The whole time I was listening, I was just thinking about how you really never know what somebody else has gone through and how it's so important to just be kind to others for that reason. But wow....it really left me with this empowered feeling of 'I can do anything'. Which, sure, might be a little much but who cares? It really is a raw journey. I laughed a lot, but there was also a point where I was huddled in my bed just crying because I felt for him so, so much and it's hard to hear about someone's rock bottom. But, queens, he overcame all that with a lot of hardwork and perseverance. In what I believe to be true JVN fashion, there are points where the storytelling gets a little clunky and he goes off on wild tangents. But he finds his way back eventually, and honestly I didn't mind one bit. He's not a writer, but that's easy to look past in my opinion. This was really brave of him. It's hard to be vulnerable with the people you love, let alone with the entire world. I adore him, I admire him, and I highly recommend this. But seriously....LISTEN to the audio version. It's great.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Evie Braithwaite

    Oh, fans of Queer Eye will adore this. There is more than meets the eye with Jonathan Van Ness, and this book overflows with honesty and realness. In this raw, unflinching memoir he opens up about the hardships he has faced: from enduring years of judgement and ridicule to becoming a model of self-love and acceptance. Despite having met so much trauma, he radiates fierce positivity and offers his readers a wealth of amazing advice without coming across as preachy. I couldn’t recommend listening t Oh, fans of Queer Eye will adore this. There is more than meets the eye with Jonathan Van Ness, and this book overflows with honesty and realness. In this raw, unflinching memoir he opens up about the hardships he has faced: from enduring years of judgement and ridicule to becoming a model of self-love and acceptance. Despite having met so much trauma, he radiates fierce positivity and offers his readers a wealth of amazing advice without coming across as preachy. I couldn’t recommend listening to the audiobook more; JVN’s narration made this one of the best audio experiences I’ve ever had. Honestly, I was laughing while walking to the gym at 6 am and usually I can just about crack a smile at that time. At the beginning of the memoir, Jonathan asks whether you will still love him if you knew about everything he has been through and yes, I still do. In fact, even more so! This gets all the stars from me, I absolutely loved it.

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