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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

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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.

269 pages, Hardcover

First published September 24, 2019

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About the author

Jonathan Van Ness

5 books1,143 followers
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 witty social commentary series recapping HBO's "Game of Thrones." Launched in 2013, the series just finished its eighth and final season, and garnered Emmy nominations in 2016 and 2018 for 'Outstanding Short Form Variety Series.' Jonathan also continues to work on his passion project, his podcast "Getting Curious," a weekly exploration of all the things Jonathan is curious about. The podcast was listed as one of the Top Podcasts of 2018 by Time Magazine, and won the iHeart Radio Award for Best LGBTQ Podcast. 2018 was a breakthrough year for Jonathan, who realized two new passions - for the arts of stand-up comedy and figure skating. Jonathan is currently on his first worldwide comedy tour "Jonathan Van Ness: Road to Beijing" where he is going for comedy gold. Most recently, Jonathan announced that his revelatory memoir, OVER THE TOP, will be released in September 2019.

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5 stars
24,032 (40%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,051 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
19 reviews
January 8, 2022
JVN is not a writer. They are a personality. I suspicioned this going into the memoir and feel even more sure of that now. Their voice does not translate to the page well: The tangents and analogies that I usually find engaging when they speak come across as tedious and clumsy here, likely because those tangents are not visually demarcated in any way (i.e. for the love of Michelle Kwan, just use fucking footnotes). They tell rather than show. They preach about the importance of vulnerability, but they practice it uneasily. JVN glosses over significant details, imposes distance through sarcasm, and frequently reverts to trite book-reporty rhetoric. (At one point, they literally insert a report they did in the 6th grade as a means to delay talking about heavy shit.) There are redundancies aplenty. There are some waffling values, too: JVN extolls the virtues of body positivity, but they also use 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 their story. That takes a lot of guts, especially considering certain details could jeopardize their burgeoning mainstream acceptance. I just wish it had been told in a more compelling way.

Note: Original review posted in 2019; edited in Jan 2022 to reflect JVN’s correct pronouns.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,039 reviews348 followers
Read
December 21, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews109k followers
January 8, 2020
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.
4 reviews2 followers
September 16, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
273 reviews3,926 followers
November 15, 2019
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!
Profile Image for Jonathan.
912 reviews926 followers
December 1, 2019
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.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews276 followers
September 30, 2020
“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.”

it’s always a good sign to me when i’m highlighting a lot of quotes while reading a book. and this memoir has so many things in it that resonated with me that my highlights and bookmarks on my e-reader are a real mess.

(but then again, what isn’t a mess in 2020?)

jonathan van ness is probably best known for his work on the reality tv show queer eye. the premise of the show is five queer people giving lifestyle advice and ‘make betters’ (rather than makeovers) to people who could really use a boost.

van ness is one of the five; officially the grooming expert, unofficially the self-care patron of the show. his exuberance, iconic one-liners, and deep display of empathy for others made him an instant favorite to many -- including me.

in this memoir, he recounts the story of his life. from baby jack in a small rural town to hairdresser jonathan in LA to the new york-based famous JVN that we know from queer eye.

his musings on how he auditioned for the show and what the other fab five mean to him only shows up in the final chapter, and isn’t the focus of the book. i appreciated that mostly because i was interested in the person behind the tv personality and not so much the show itself, but your mileage may vary so i figured it was worth a mention.

van ness hasn’t had an easy life. there’s relentless bullying in his childhood for his ‘over the top’ personality (read: gay), sexual abuse, various addictions, dealing with the loss of loved ones, being diagnosed with HIV, and working himself to the absolute bone.

yet he writes of these events in that easy, conversational manner that makes him so charming to listen to on tv. regarding that, i can really recommend the audiobook for this because van ness does the narration himself, and it is a joy to listen to.

and so, despite the hardships he’s encountered, we get a picture of a thoroughly lively person enchanted by self-expression, figure skating, and stamps (at one point). he mentions how hard life can be for queer people especially, and how badly he wants to recount his story so that others won’t have to feel alone and know they can get help and/or take better care of themselves.

his rambly style of speaking doesn’t always translate that well into writing, and i can imagine people being put off by it. at the same time, it was a bonus for me.

because even though it’s probably an oxymoron to call a memoir personal, there are plenty of biographies and memoirs out there that feel very… devoid of personality. distant. sometimes it’s the presence of a ghostwriter that creates that shallow atmosphere, other times it’s the focus of the content. and this memoir has none of those problems.

it’s simply 100% jonathan van ness.

it has run-on sentences, humorous tangents (such as the time he includes his mom’s reactions when she reads his chapter on how she and his stepdad used to “talk” a lot upstairs), and a couple of his well-known sayings. there’s even deflective behavior that he calls himself out on.

no, seriously -- when he comes to a particularly hard part of his life, he inserts a funny essay he wrote on usa politics when he was eleven years old. just to postpone the thing a little bit. and it works, because you can feel his pain while at the same time directly seeing his eleven year-old-self and how opinionated that kid could be.

i found it all endearing, touching, and full of heart.

van ness also briefly discusses his non-binary identity, but the most beautiful thing to me is how he uses all kinds of pronouns throughout the book to refer to himself as well as using gendered words without any regard for them being gendered. [1] and he does that so easily, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.

not gonna lie, but that definitely struck a chord with me.

anyway, if you’re a fan of van ness based on his tv appearances and interested in his life story as a result, you’ll probably have a good time with this memoir. and if you’re still on the fence by now, here’s a video of him talking about this book and what he hopes its main takeaways are.

i can easily imagine myself rereading this every now and then for the same bursts of joy and recognition that van ness always manages to inspire in me on queer eye.

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4.0 stars.

[1] you might’ve noticed how i’ve used he/him pronouns throughout this review to refer to van ness, and that’s because even though he said he’s fine with she/her and they/them, his preferred pronouns are he/him. should this change or should you know differently, i’ll update it asap!
Profile Image for Calista.
3,792 reviews31.2k followers
June 16, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
615 reviews4,242 followers
January 29, 2020
"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.
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,008 reviews1,877 followers
October 1, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Diane.
1,079 reviews2,609 followers
January 11, 2020
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.
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 13 books10.1k followers
February 28, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Emily.
958 reviews35 followers
January 3, 2020
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 👏👏👏
Profile Image for Ana.
337 reviews
August 3, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Pantelis Andreou.
271 reviews52 followers
November 15, 2019
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!!!
Profile Image for Katey Moore.
215 reviews6 followers
November 19, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
449 reviews1,710 followers
January 19, 2023
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.”

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 it felt like the perfect time for something like it. Also, I love Queer Eye, because duh.

JVN's memoir 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, 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.

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 when everything is so bleak and chaotic right now.

Wash your hands & read this book!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 5 stars
Profile Image for Taylor.
446 reviews131 followers
January 23, 2022
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 his 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 he 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 he 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.”
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,030 reviews504 followers
July 28, 2022
But like I learned in hair school: Fake it till you make it and make it look graceful.

I was unsure what to make of JVN and the revived Fab Five from Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye when I watched it initially. My overwhelming fear in those first few episodes was that the producers would have to call in private security to extract the team from some Hicksville place that did not take too kindly to their particular brand of flamboyance – which, startlingly, seems even more over the top than the original.

But I gradually grew to love the show and its subtle ideological retooling of the spirit of the original, from transforming people into celebrating difference. It might seem a subtle distinction, but it makes the show so much more meaningful and impactful. And I am convinced that if it were not for the simple affirmation of Queer Eye, contemporary queer-positive shows like Heartstopper would have been unthinkable.

It is incredible how total strangers respond to the energy of JVN and fall into his magnetic orbit, who is a spinning, flapping diva force of nature all by himself. However, his persona would definitely not work within the context of Queer Eye if he was not as solidly grounded by the other team members. One of the most fascinating, and all too brief, parts of Over the Top is JVN’s description of the gruelling and curiously detached casting process for the reboot, which saw about 125 candidates whittled down to a final 15 over a couple of days.

So how do you contain the very idea of JVN in a book, distilling his essence into pages, as it were? The answer is: You don’t. And you can’t. There are always moments in Queer Eye where we get a glimpse of his serious side, usually when discussing (reverentially, it always seems to me) what he is going to do to someone’s hair. I honestly wish he had adopted more of that serious persona for this book, not only because he deals with such triggering issues (from body shaming to drug and sex addiction, living with HIV, and worker exploitation in the service industry), but because JVN kind of gets in the way of his own story.

I cannot believe there are so many typos in a release from a major publisher like Simon & Schuster – but then I doubt if JVN even read the galleys… Secondly, where the fuck was your fairy editor? This veers wildly from rambling to too much inconsequential information to too scant detail. Often within a single page. And then he has this irritating habit of telling us what he is going to reveal next was so difficult and painful to deal with and process initially, and then reframe that trauma and learning in the context of a book … only to frustratingly gloss over it anyway with an arch one-liner! Jonathan, we love you man, but boy this book is a hot mess.
Profile Image for Lilith Black Bee.
176 reviews357 followers
March 10, 2020
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!!!

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Profile Image for Bruna Miranda.
Author 5 books767 followers
October 25, 2019
É um dos livros de memórias mais sinceros que eu já li. Além de falar sobre a vida pessoal do Jonathan, todos os momentos bons, ruins e péssimos, é uma grande aula sobre como cura não é algo linear. A gente não vai melhorando exponencialmente a cada dia; às vezes é "dois passos pra frente, um passo pra trás" e tudo bem. Seja qual for o tipo de cura e recuperação que você passe, você precisa seguir nesse caminho.

O Jonathan tem um coração do tamanho do mundo e com o livro dá pra ver que ele sempre foi assim e ainda foi alimentando isso com mais motivos para não deixar de ser quem é. É uma história difícil de ler pois tem vários gatilhos de vários assuntos e por causa dessa honestidade inteira que ele coloca no livro. Dá pra sentir que ele foi transparente e enquanto lia às vezes eu pensava que tava invadindo um espaço pessoal dele, ou será se eu deveria estar lendo aquilo? Mas aparentemente é isso que é ser aberto com seus sentimentos sem medo de nada.

Eu pude ler as outras duas memórias do Fab Five (Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope e Naturally Tan) e mesmo o Karamo sendo o meu favorito dos cinco, e o Tan sendo o que eu (impressionantemente) me conectei mais, foi a história do Jonathan que mexeu mais comigo.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,204 followers
Read
November 2, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Alfredo.
355 reviews491 followers
January 29, 2020
"Over the top" é um livro de memórias de Jonathan Van Ness, especialista em aparência do reality da Netflix "Queer eye". Essa é uma história verdadeira, honesta e dura sobre traumas, relacionamentos e família. Alerta de gatilho: abuso sexual, traição.

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that acceptance is the key to so much, and we find so much freedom in feeling fierce about what we’re accepting.”

Eu amei esse livro. A narração do audiobook é PERFEITA. (Não leia se você ainda não assistiu pelo menos os 12 primeiros episódios da série!) Recomendo!
Profile Image for Janine .
667 reviews35 followers
October 14, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Pam Faste aka Peejakers.
176 reviews45 followers
September 30, 2019
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."
Profile Image for K..
3,543 reviews999 followers
April 5, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Lucinda Garza.
155 reviews628 followers
October 23, 2019
Qué ser tan hermoso es JVN.

Admiro muchísimo su valentía para atreverse a contar su historia, con todo y momentos maravillosos y eventos terribles. Definitivamente es mucho más que la persona adorable y burbujeante que vemos en Queer Eye, y en este libro se expone ante el lector para que este aprenda de su vulnerabilidad.

Lo quiero abrazar mucho.

(Escuché el audiolibro, es una joya escucharlo)
Profile Image for Chasity.
243 reviews13 followers
April 17, 2022
Is JVN the best writer? No, probably not. But did they tell their best story, Yes!
I love Queer Eye on Netflix and the Fab 5. I wouldn’t have known to listen to JVN’s memoir otherwise. So glad I did.
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