“Right now, with this book, I want the freedom to say, “Well, there are no more secrets.” I have grown into myself and come to a place where I want to be honest about my flaws. If I can do that in front of the world, then I can remain honest with myself.” – Prologue, Open Book, Jessica Simpson
Let me just start by saying that I absolutely LOVE getting lost in between the pages of a good celebrity memoir. I honestly had no plans of diving into this one as I don’t really keep up with celebrity gossip, but a few friends had already started reading and said what they’d read up to that point was pretty good so my curiosity was piqued. I remember watching Newlyweds with my then fiancé/now husband every week up until our own wedding and at the time was a huge fan of her (as a public figure, not a music artist). So I thought, ‘why not?!’
I went into reading Open Book with low expectations. Sure, I wanted to hear a little behind the scenes gossip about her love life (specifically with Nick Lachey), but other than that I didn’t really expect anything deep or profound. After all, she’s played into the “dumb blonde joke” stereotype for so long that I semi-expected a surface peek into her earlier years in the spotlight sprinkled with silly clichés and celebrity platitudes. But this book is (surprisingly) so much more.
Jessica spends a lot of time talking about her younger years pre-spotlight as a pastor’s daughter living in Texas and Colorado. The family experiences that shaped her and the relationships that attributed to the person she’s become. Faith is the cornerstone of almost every conversation piece in her narrative and she speaks with an incredible amount of grace and perspective throughout the book. She recounts most of her story through old journals she’s kept through the years as well as conversations with different members of her family.
Open Book touches on her experience with sexual abuse at a young age and how that attributed to her need to numb those memories and drown her fears with pills and alcohol as an adult. She painfully describes what it felt like being under a microscope with her changing figure & how the weight of negative comments and public scrutiny gave way to her struggle with body image. She also talked about her relationships with her closest friends and how they helped push her toward being the best version of herself while loyally standing by her through every setback.
Jessica animately divulges about her first marriage to Nick Lachey and all the complicated feelings and experiences that took place during their time . She dishes on her relationships with Johnny Knoxville (new to me!), John Mayer (I’m NOT a fan…what a jerk!), and Tony Romo (also not impressed) as well. And while I LOVE hearing celebrities air their dirty laundry, I felt like she romanticized some of her past relationships and experiences and it just felt a little “icky” given that she’s currently happily married with kids. That said, it didn’t take away from the story, just made me wonder how her husband feels about the way she recounted those relationships.
I’m an advocate for vulnerability and authenticity and love it when women get “real”. Her honesty was surprisingly refreshing. I found her to be incredibly endearing and relatable. Listening to her tell her story felt conversational and intimate….almost like curling up on the couch with a dear friend over coffee who just “needs someone to listen”. I finished the book looking at her through a completely different lens. She has a self-awareness and confidence I didn’t expect and felt so proud of her when it was all said and done.
Even though she enlisted the help of a ghostwriter to give voice to her memories, I thought her story was so well written and engaging. Full disclosure…I listened to the audiobook (which I HIGHLY recommend). I felt like I really got a sense of how she was feeling through different life experiences and found myself tearing up and crying in certain parts as her voice trembled and cracked while retelling parts of her story. And while 11 hours might seem like a big time investment, it went incredibly quick and I can honestly say I didn’t want it to end. I’m not even embarrassed to say that I give this autobiography a big 5 out of 5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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