Today, you are going to learn a few new things about me: I followed the ‘unpopular vote’ when it came to growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s. While everyone was learning N’Sync’s dances and memorizing the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys’ newest song, I was scouring Tiger Beat for photos of 98 Degrees. (Specifically, 8 x 11 tear outs of Nick Lachey.) While teens everywhere were buying concert tickets to see Britney Spears and watching the “Genie In A Bottle” MTV music video on repeat, I was fan-girling over Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. When Nick & Jessica toured together, I watched the televised viewing. When “Where You Are” debuted, it was a song that was added to every playlist on my Napster or Limewire account (or whatever service was used before streaming became popular.) When “Newlyweds” came out, it became my favorite reality show. And when Jessica and Nick broke up, my hope of any “happily ever after” was crushed and I put their careers, single and together, on a shelf in my mind. In short, my favorite Hollywood couple fizzled from memory like an old flame.
I don’t follow Jessica or Nick on social media- I was salty that Nick found love in Vanessa, now Lachey, after she starred in a music video about Jessica- and aside from loving Jessica’s style (specifically, her shoe line) I’ve never had any interest in seeing what each have been up to. Well, now Nick and Vanessa host one of my favorite shows, “Love Is Blind” and Jessica just published her first memoir, called “Open Book.”
I never thought I’d gravitate toward either, but here we are: I am a raving fan of both. And if I were to choose between one success over the next, I am jumping on the blog to say that “Open Book” takes the gold medal- Jessica is not a dumb blonde but a woman who possesses wisdom beyond her years, can fill a page with both whimsical and weighty prose. Put simply, she surprised me. “Open Book” made me dig through my closet and throw my “Team Jessica” t-shirt back on.
I downloaded her book on Audible because it was a longer one and as you know by now, my work commute is long as well. (We’re talking pre-Covid-19 days.) I didn’t know what to expect as not a lot of people had read the book yet, but I was intrigued by the preliminary rating on Goodreads. I dove in and was right away enthralled: Jessica’s voice is very emotive, so if you were to ask me which would be better, Audiobook or Hardcover, this is one of the few times that I’d recommend the former. “Open Book” is just that: A glimpse into Jessica’s life where she laughs and cries along with you, snorts at her own jokes, revels in her own insights… The engagement feels more like gossip over coffee, which I loved.
And boy, does Jessica have a story to tell. I am usually not one for “Star Drama;” I don’t read tabloids and don’t watch Entertainment Tonight. My desires and curiosities are more internally focused, and not much energy is spent on what the ‘famous folk of my time’ are up to. I rarely even watch award shows anymore. But this book turns fame on its head and takes a look at Jessica’s successes and struggles, how her career influenced each. She talks about body issues, family trauma, and yes- even divulges details about her love life.
This was the first Audiobook that I wanted to listen to outside of the car: Mindless, yet interesting, I found myself pressing “play” while doing dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning the house. I knew that Jessica’s father managed her and it was a struggle at times, I knew that Nick and Jessica waited until marriage to have sex, I knew that she dated John Mayer and Tony Romo, but loved all of the details she divulged in her book. It was strangely satisfying to get the inside scoop, like a “Newlyweds” prequel and sequel.
Final Score: 4.5 Where the previously read memoir, “Finding Chika,” was poignant and powerful, this one was lighthearted and endearing. Jessica is still the same beautiful, goofy, sweet soul that we remember her to be, that incredible role model of our youth, but wow, she’s got an undeniable inner strength as well. Jessica Simpson: She’s still someone to be admired, and I know that by the end of the book, whether you were a Britney fan, Cristina devotee, or Mandy Moore supporter… you too will be donning that “Team Jessica” tee.
BEST FOR: Audible lovers- I’m telling you: “Open Book” is elevated even more with her narration. Try it out! Even if you are not a Jessica Simpson enthusiast, she has an interesting story that may cause you to appreciate her in a new way.
NOT GOOD FOR: Those who don’t care for celebrity bios: This book falls under the fame, misfortune, silver lining category and there are definitely instances of drug and alcohol abuse. However, her “why” for turning to those addictions could surprise you. I recommend being open-minded, with “Open Book.”
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: Jessica Simpson would be dubbed, “Most Determined.” She realized her dreams with her values intact, despite all of the roadblocks faced along the way.
** Want to see what I’m reading next? Find me on GoodReads and join the 2020 challenge with me! https://www.goodreads.com/addingpunctuation **