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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  21,992 ratings  ·  2,397 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 was so…over the top. From
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Audiobook, 276 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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 ·  21,992 ratings  ·  2,397 reviews


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Cindy Pham
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
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
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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 is pretty, but he brings his
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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
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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
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Emily
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 to meth,
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Diane
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, audiobooks
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
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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
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Jonathan
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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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.
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!!!
Janine
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 mean,
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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
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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
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*mk*
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-faves
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 ...more
Brittany
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oops I read the whole book today it was beyond amazing ...more
Rick
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.
Celine
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love and admire Jonathan Van Ness so much, I don't really have much to say because this book was just so raw and dealt with a lot of heavy-yet-important topics, and uff. Really, no words, just love and admiration.
Kelly
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny, heart breaking, very real look at jvn. I love him even more. I felt how badly his step fathers death hurt his family, I pictured a little jack performing floor routines and smiled, the audio version is awesome.
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 ...more
Stephanie Gillespie
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
“I hope culturally we can continue to normalise the idea that being a survivor is so much more common than anyone realizes”


It is not a secret that I am a huge fan of the queen that is JVN, so of course I was going to pick up god memoire. Over the Top shows all the pain and passion that JVN went through to become who he is today. It is raw, honest and incredibly real. This book has a lot of trigger warnings such as child abuse, drug and sex addiction so take care going into it. The book starts
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Kristin Garrett
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kazia
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!
Jenny Bunting
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Like the human who wrote this, I love it.

Kaytee Cobb
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do you a favor and consume this one on audio, because it's fabulous and I'm having a gorgeous baby moment here just thinking about how much I loved it.
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
...more
katerina ☕
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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. You would no longer want me as your new best friend.
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Fox Book Club: Best Memoir 1 36 Feb 07, 2020 02:34PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Van Ness - Over the Top [Jan 1, 2020] 17 15 Jan 07, 2020 10:54AM  

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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 ...more
“Just because we mess up doesn’t mean all the lessons we learned are undone. Healing can be imperfect.” 24 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.” 13 likes
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