Open Book by Jessica Simpson – Book Review

Author: Jessica Simpson

Title: Open Book

Genre/Themes: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Biography, Abusive Relationships, Alcoholism, Pop Culture, Child Sexual Abuse, Strained Parental Relationships, Showbiz, Pop Music

Blurb from Goodreads

Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age fifteen, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her readers if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.

Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites readers on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her book shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés — “chicken or fish,” “Daisy Duke,” “football jinx,” “mom jeans,” “sexual napalm…” and more.

Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.

My Review

I loved the MTV show Newlyweds back in the day. Before I knew what a ship was I shipped Jessica and Nick so hard… That video of them singing Where You Are… ahhh the feels…

But then they broke up, and Jessica Simpson had that god awful cover of These Boots Are Made For Walking and a strange dalliance with Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame (another beloved MTV show of mine) and I just didn’t get it.

I didn’t know what had happened to this sweet girl that had seemed so warm and likeable.

And then there was the John Mayer relationship and… it all just turned into a whole big trainwreck really.

Full disclosure.

I’m a huge fan of John Mayer’s music. Twenty years a diehard fan, his music is the music that I turn to daily. I’ve found myself in his songs; they have provided so much solace and comfort to me over the years. I fell in love with his music without knowing anything about the man personally. He wasn’t popular this side of the Atlantic and I just stumbled across some of his tracks on the internet and from there bought his CDs.

But when I started to want to know more about him… oof I really didn’t expect to discover what I did.

Because John Mayer has made it so hard to be a fan of his on a great many occasions.

He said INCREDIBLY offensive things about Jessica Simpson that I won’t repeat here but as a woman I was completely appalled by his abhorrent comments. And it didn’t stop there. He has said a great deal of distasteful things about other women, in particular women of colour which I am disgusted by. Just the way he used to talk about sex in general when he was younger was utterly detestable. And that’s before we even talk about the age difference (and therefore the power imbalance) between him and a teenage Taylor Swift when they dated… absolutely gross.

Battle Studies’ era John was and still is a John that I find hard to reconcile myself with.

There’s good reason that he never plays the song “Assassin” anymore because that person from those years… he’s not that person anymore. Well he claims he isn’t and I like to believe it, because from my fan’s perspective I’ve seen him grow in recent times. I’ve seen him own his problematic behaviour. I’ve seen the man evolve and pay time and again for his negative attitudes and behaviours of the past. Rightly so though.

But I can still find ways to love him from my fan’s perspective because of how openly and honestly he now speaks about anxiety, about over-intellectualising, about insecurity… and from that I can find my own healing in his thoughts and music.

So when I heard that Jessica Simpson had written this book and discussed John Mayer in particular I knew I had to read it. And he doesn’t fare well.

But he was an utter jerk to her so no surprises there.

All I know from reading this book is I am so glad I am not a celebrity. That I don’t chase fame. That my life isn’t dependant on my image.

Celebrity really screws you over. Add anxiety to that and… just no. Glad that ain’t my life.

This is Jessica Simpson’s truth. And I respect that. Do I think she possibly shirked a smidgeon of the responsibility surrounding some of her romantic relationships?

Maybe. But just because there was some mutually toxic behaviour in some instances doesn’t lessen or diminish the veracity of the abuse she suffered.

But we all know how problematic and toxically controlling wealthy, successful, white male celebrities can be. And how they look down on women and treat them as glorified arm candy at best, and utter dirt at worst.

And then we all know how society automatically leaps to the defence of men rather than listen to women’s truth because of the unconscious male bias that is rooted deep within the human psyche.. thank you patriarchy *glares*

So I stand with Jessica Simpson and her truth. And this book is her much needed catharsis.

As for the way the book unfolds in a narrative sense…

I feel there’s a bit too much name dropping just for the sake of name dropping in early parts of the book.

I didn’t particularly love the way things were phrased… the casual style of the narrative isn’t to my personal taste.

So many times I felt it hard to relate to her…

  • with her husband Eric she didn’t want a large wedding but suddenly *boom* magazine deal and then grandiose wedding.
  • A boozy holiday with girlfriends and then a tummy tuck days later and recuperating in a luxury hotel…
  • Barely any mention of Ashlee and her career…I mean are they sisters or not? One would wonder at times.

So many things were just thrown in that I felt needed to be expanded upon and other areas I felt she needed to be more honest with herself.

But who am I to judge her. This is her life and how it’s unfolded for her.

And from her childhood there’s a story of sexual abuse which was very painful to read about. And this left a lasting impression on her and affected her throughout her youth especially as it led to her being bullied after a “friend” took her story and twisted it to use against Jessica… but her parents once she told them… I just didn’t understand them. We are of a similar age so I just can’t reconcile how her parents didn’t make things better for her by being open. But instead choked down the abuse…

Her relationship with her father was and is so very heartbreaking especially. She loves him dearly but he clearly did a number on her with how controlling he was… at times I could understand him and others not… it’s just a very sad mess.

Overall this was an interesting read. And I’m glad that Jessica gets to reclaim agency over the narrative of her life.

I listened to the audio version of this using my Scribd free month subscription and it was nice to hear some new music from Jessica at the end of the narration. Her voice brings me back to the 90s and memories of Dawson’s Creek, MTV and cheesy boybands. Her music may not be to my personal taste anymore but I like the sense of throwback.

My Socials

12 thoughts on “Open Book by Jessica Simpson – Book Review

  1. I just read your review of this on GR last night and I have to admit that I’m surprised by how many positive reviews this book is getting! 🙈 It’s making me even more curious about it. And I totally feel you about shipping Nick and Jessica before ships were even a thing. I was so sad when they broke up… I thought they were IT! Haha great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personally I think it’s very hard to review and rate a memoir. Because you are critiquing someone’s truth and their perspective on life. So while I definitely think there is a bias to how she remembered some things it still made for an interesting read so that’s why I am personally pretty positive about it. :))) Thanks Dini <333

      Like

    1. It is certainly worth a read for the sake of curiosity because like me you were invested in the Nick and Jessica romance …. it’s sad though… how their marriage fell apart. But definitely would recommend the audiobook on scribd :))))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Jessica Simpson’s era and height was *just* before my time, so I honestly don’t know much about her 😅. Like I had noooo idea that her and John Mayer dated 😮. This memoir sounds surprisingly reflective though 🙂!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG there was SUCH drama with her and John Mayer…. he did not behave as he should for sure… and I say this as a die hard Mayer fan!! But overall this was an interesting memoir if celebs of that late 90s / 00s decade are your jam :)))

      Liked by 1 person

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