5 Stars Reviews

Book Review: Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love by Jonathan Van Ness

Jonathan Van Ness, one fifth of the fabulous Queer Eye team we’ve all come to know and love, tells his story from the very beginning, starting back when Jonathan was just little Jack living in a small town in the mid-west, all the way up to breaking onto our laptop screens with a Netflix-backed reboot that has become an international phenomenon.

So I’m telling my story, the whole story, to show that some masterpieces start of a mess.

I adore every member of the Queer Eye Fab Five, but Jonathan Van Ness has a special place in my heart. I listened to the audiobook of his autobiography, which is read by Jonathan himself, and his energy is infectious.

Jonathan doesn’t shy away from the things he’s been through in his life and tells his story with a candid honesty which made me love him even more. His witticisms made me laugh so much, especially when he would compare moments of his life to dramas from Olympic gymnastics or ice skating; a huge source of passion in his life. My heart soared for him when he talked about ice skating with Michelle Kwan. His story is inspiring, and this particular aspect of it goes to show that it’s never too late to find a new life passion.

Whilst the audiobook is full of hilarity, there are moments which are very dark, and Jonathan tells these stories with poignancy and honesty. There was one morning where I was listening to the book whilst getting ready for work. I had to completely redo all of my make-up before leaving because I’d ruined it by sobbing into my cereal, listening to Jonathan talk about a particularly difficult time in his life.

What I loved most about Over the Top was the timeline that was covered in the book; Jonathan takes the reader from his early childhood to the beginning of Queer Eye, just before his worldwide celebrity. It focuses on what we don’t yet know, rather than giving a different account of what is already in the public sphere. For me, this is everything an autobiography should be. At the beginning of the book, Jonathan wonders if people will still love him if they knew all of him, and after reading Over the Top, the answer from me is ‘Absolutely’.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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