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

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

Their 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 their journey from a small, bigoted little town to Netflix, where they have become, in my opinion, a beacon of joy, self-acceptance, love and honesty. I mean, really, they just makes the world a better place, and that’s a fact.

can you believe fab 5 GIF by Queer Eye

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 person 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 their candid revelation of their HIV+ status. Van Ness makes it clear through their writing that even though they have a bubbly, extroverted personality on our screens, they’re 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 it’s 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.

GIF by Queer Eye

You know you’re more than that. So, why do we have such a hard time understand everybody else is more than that, too? Maybe this book will be an exercise is actively looking beneath the surface before writing someone off as just one thing; as just a TV personality who seems to be 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.”

They are happy, optimistic and a bright light in a dark world. But they’re also moody, serious, smart and experienced. Van Ness is 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 of theirs when you read the words, regardless.

GIF by Queer Eye

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 judgementridicule 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 revelatoryraw, 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.

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