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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  4,970 ratings  ·  557 reviews
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 w
Audiobook, 400 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by HarperAudio
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Brooklyn Cribdon (The Wild Library) I feel like this definitely depends on the reader's maturity, background, etc. I'd say 14+. JVN talks about some really intense topics (sexual abuse,…moreI feel like this definitely depends on the reader's maturity, background, etc. I'd say 14+. JVN talks about some really intense topics (sexual abuse, drugs, sex, rehab, death, disordered eating HIV, homophobia, sex work, trauma), but does so in a very honest way that isn't glorified. If the reader is younger, consider these things: Does the reader's maturity level allow for them to process and understand some of these topics? Does the reader have a support system (i.e. older friends or adults) who they can ask questions to or discuss the book's content with? Has the reader experienced any of these situations in their own life and could the reader thus be triggered? All of this being said, the book isn't ONLY about these intense aspects of JVN's life. It's also full of humour and triumph.(less)

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Average rating 4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,970 ratings  ·  557 reviews

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Mar 23, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-soon-19
I've always been conflicted in my feelings with Johnathan Van Ness. Is it because even though I am a queer person, I've still been raised in a society meant to shame flamboyancy as weakness, a thought pattern evident in queer circles as well?
I mean, yeah, probably.
But I've pushed through that, and now admire Johnathan's unabashed expression of self, which is something we could all learn from. He's not just there to make you giggle when he flips his hair, Karen the Middle-Aged Mom Who Drinks Wi
Karin-Isabella O'Connor
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; 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
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 he
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 mea
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 ...more
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
Kristin Garrett
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
R.K. Gold
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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!
Rhosyo's BookWorm
I've came to know this amazing guy and his tv show through some Alexis Hall's tweets.
I became inevitably besotted with him.
I need this book on hardcover! I hope I can get it here in Argentina... :/
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
So good. Definitely worth listening to audio version, as the author narrates.
Brooke Averick
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you love JVN as much as I do, you can’t go wrong with this book. We learn about the many “parts” of Jonathan/Jack throughout this memoir. There’s the part of him that we all know and love: the boisterous, quick witted, and bold JVN that graces our TV and computer screens. We also get a glimpse into the parts of JVN that have previously been hidden from the public: the “psychotically depressed” part with a sex and drug addiction. JVN touches on serious and important topics such as mental healt ...more
Sofia Wren
As a human I want to give this book five stars, as a writer I give it four.

Once I got past the first chapter where there was so much about gymnastics and figure skating that it felt like I was reading a book in a foreign language, I got really into it. I was scared by that beginning and I think it may put off another reader who isn't a total JVN fan, hence the four stars, but I'm really glad I read it.

The book has a fresh feel. I just read it, starting on the day it relea
Alexa Ferro
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of the book JVN asks, "if you knew all of my parts, would you still love me?". I honestly laughed out loud and cried multiple times reading about JVN's struggles towards self-love and acceptance that feels somewhat all too familiar yet much more drastic than you could have ever expected from someone who is perceived as a beacon of positivity. By the end of the book, I found that I did love JVN just the same, regardless of the mistakes he's made along the way but the love has shi ...more
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book!! JVN is such an inspiration and hearing his story made me love him even more. It was so raw and real and I feel so grateful that he shared his life story with us.

The writing is funny and deep at the same time; a glorious combination. He writes lines such as “put my soul into a food processor” and then later says “I was worth saving all along”. I was seriously crying in my car. He calls himself a “perfectly imperfect mess” which is something I can definitely relate to. My favo
Ashley Lynne
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan is serving us Angel On Earth realness in this touching memoir.

Discussing his downward spirals, family tragedies, and personal defeats gave me so much more love and respect for him, and I didn’t think that was possible. He was so open and honest and held nothing back and did a top notch job of making his reader feel a closer and more personal bond with him. His life experience has had a lot of lows and dark spots and doubts and the fact that he is the fun and bubbly and caring person th
Lindsay Saligman
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ll just start by saying how I am in awe of Jonathan for sharing such a vulnerable and taboo story, and that I respect him so much for his bravery. I’m so glad Jonathan got a happy ending his 8 year old self would have never believed in, and I wish him strength and perseverance to continue this self love going forward. As a memoir, or piece of writing, this book felt lacking in many ways, but Jonathan said his goal was to help others going through similar struggles, and I have no doubt that his ...more
Laura Mcgee
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected to. I have seen a few episodes of the new Queer Eye and I love them, but I was not a super fan and definitely didn’t know anything about Jonathan except he was the one with the long hair.
Reading his book was both really tough (as much as he glosses over the bullying he endured, it’s clear it was bad), and unexpectedly delightful. I laughed out loud reading it repeatedly. The way he tells stories, his quiet thoughts, his obsessions (figure skating
Stephanie Hiddleston
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This queen is from now on my absolute role model as I am deeply impressed how a person could have gone through all the versions of hell he went through and still got himself out of it, learning to love himself and the world so fiercely.

I wish to be as Jonathan and love myself as much as he would love me.
If we all could be a bit more like Jonathan, the world would a better place.

I devoured this book in two days, as it is enticingly written and doesn't spare us anything - and in
Patrick Rosé
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for the queer identifying reader or anyone who is a friend, family member, or ally of a LGBTQ+ community. JVN, like myself, grew up in a highly conservative concentrated community, was bullied excessively for who he was, and was not given the tools necessary to self-soothe. I’ve been obsessed with JVN since the outstanding reboot of Queer Eye on Netflix, but was always curious as to how he became the confident, self-loving JVN we all know and love from the series. This book gives you ...more
Hillary Scholz
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an eye-opening journey into Jonathan's life. It's peppered with his love and zeal for life, even when he's narrating the incredibly rough and frankly tragic parts of his life. I appreciate him so much for having the courage to share his story and hope that it can encourage and change the lives of young LGBTQ+ people.

I definitely recommend it, but if you are in a bad place mentally I would suggest waiting until you are stronger. Some parts were very difficult to read and experience
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.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
I enjoyed this, even though it occasionally made me tear up. JVN (now, not so much in his floundering mid-twenties) seems like a person with really good intentions, and I value that. And he's fun to listen to! (When he's not making you cry about bad stuff that's happened to him.)
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this, and thank Goddess bc JVN narrates. It's perfect, and so is he. I knew this memoir would be amazing and it absolutely was. Listen to this in a quiet place and let yourself heal.
Alexander Resare
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Listened to the author read audio book and a week later I listened to it again. Tears have fallen both from laughter and heartbreak.
Alex Jackman
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You’ll learn a lot about Olympic figure skating and gymnastics in this book. Also, a lot about self-care, self-love, and growing from your mistakes. It is, as the subtitle states, “a raw journey to self-love.” If you like the JVN you saw on Queer Eye, in this book you get to meet the rest of him, and you’ll love those parts too.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
I love JVN so much and I love this audiobook so much. Also I’m really proud of him for slowing down his speech pattern when narrating!
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love love loved this book!! And of course I still love JVN! Their story touched me on so many levels that it is hard to articulate. I laughed, I cried, I will definitely reread in the future.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, owned, queer
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Jonathan Van Ness is a Critics' Choice Award winning, Emmy nominated television personality, podcaster, and hairstylist to the stars. He can be seen starring on Netflix's Emmy Award-winning reboot series "Queer Eye," where he shines as the show's groomer, hair guru and self-care advocate. In addition to "Queer Eye," Jonathan stars on the Emmy-nominated series "Gay of Thrones," (Funny or Die) a wit ...more
“Just because we mess up doesn’t mean all the lessons we learned are undone. Healing can be imperfect.” 6 likes
“Letting go of that idea that I needed to be normal or that I somehow wasn’t normal just because I needed to prioritize self-care to be healthy is the biggest gift I’ve ever given myself. Being normal is being completely unique, because nobody’s the same.” 3 likes
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