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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  8,573 ratings  ·  947 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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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.
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
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
Johann (jobis89)
Cannot recommend this enough! Especially the audiobook! Incredible! Full review to come.
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
Nikki Stafinski
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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!
Kristin Garrett
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Audiobooks are so hard for me. I get distracted, it’s hard to connect and get involved, and I can’t even get a sense of pacing — that’s why I preferred not to rate this book, since my bearings on the stories I listen instead of read are always all over the place.

One thing I will say: Jonathan’s story is so full of ups and downs (SO many downs!) and it was interesting to see this other side behind his bubbly TV personality. also, Steve. fuck.

In contrast, I got tremendously lost during the gymna
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, byobook-club
Omg. JVN is LIFE. When we watch Queer Eye Jimmy always says, “He’s so AFFIRMING!” Reading this book tells the story of his journey to becoming the affirming, compassionate, loving person we see on the show. Super inspiring.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
So good. Definitely worth listening to audio version, as the author narrates.
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
Jenny Bunting
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Like the human who wrote this, I love it.

JVN has truly pulled themselves up by their bootstraps after several dark times. So inspiring, so raw, so honest, JVN continues to encourage us to be authentic to our true selves and celebrate our lives. Excellent. Cannot wait until the audiobook makes its way to me in a few weeks.
CW: sexual abuse, drug use, homophobia, HIV, cancer, and descriptions of the death of a loved one.

Similar to Tan’s autobiography, this was a story that needs to be out there, but which could’ve been better written and told with more sensitivity.
I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that they seem to have churned out the autobios of the Queer Eye cast to capitalise on their success, which has resulted in important stories being hurriedly thrown together. So it goes with
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
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
Dani Kass
JVN writes like he talks, and that is not a good thing. Maybe this would have worked as an audio book, but as a written book it was exhausting and rushed. There were constant tangents and awkward word abbreviations and too many gorgeouses.

One thing I found repeatedly frustrating, is that he didn't specify ages at key points, especially during childhood. Something would happen where I'd presume he was 12, but he'd actually be four, and that's a massive difference.

As promised, it was incredibly
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Johnathan's story was absolutely one of pain and hardship, but also overcoming and triumph. His story was honest and showed how one can overcome struggles and grow to truly love one self. Gorgeous!
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
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve noticed that one by one the Fab Five of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” have been rolling out books. The only one I care about it Jonathan’s. A few years ago, I found Jonathan on Funny or Die doing Game of Thrones recaps called “Gay of Thrones.” Along with his podcast, I consider myself a super fan since I first saw him saying “yes, hunny!” When it was announced that JVN was the grooming expect for Queer Eye, I knew that Netflix knew what they were doing. People called him the break out star of the s ...more
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 ...more
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
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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.” 12 likes
“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.” 7 likes
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