“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.”
HarperOne | 2019
Opening Queen: Raw and unapologetic
Main Yasss Honey!: A radiant human
Fabulous Truthy-ness: Fiercedom and realness.
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 this felt like the perfect time for it. Also, I love Queer Eye, because duh.
His memoir, Over the Top, 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 (WHY THO?!), 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.
But, if you do watch Queer Eye (because you have TASTE) then you definitely want to read this autobiography. It will bring you so much more understanding and appreciation for the man behind the hair and personality.
“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.
So much goes into becoming who we are, and some of those things aren’t going to match the perception people have of us. It’s so easy, so natural, to judge a book by the cover. It’s easy to make a full judgement on a person based on what they wear, how they look or how they act in certain situations.
But you know you’re more than that. So why wouldn’t everybody else be? Maybe this book will be an exercise is actively looking beneath the surface of those around us before making writing someone off as just one thing; as just a TV personality who seems just one way.
We are all so much more interesting, vibrant and complex than that. Learning what’s beneath the surface of Van Ness was a pleasure.
“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.”
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 right now when everything is so bleak and chaotic.
Wash your hands & read this book!
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.