I’m not a reader. I wish I was. The books I have read I’ve really enjoyed, it’s just not nothing I’ve ever really gotten into. I’m much more of a ‘wait until they make it into a film, or better yet, TV series’ kind of girl. The pop culture addict in me however of course loves a good autobiography so when Ms Britney Spears announced she was releasing a book, there’s no way I could wait for the Netflix dramatisation (and believe me, it’s coming!) I knew I had to read it.
And read it I didn’t. I did what every self respecting book loather would did and I downloaded a free trial of Audible and listened to it on that. The fact it was read by Michelle Williams off of Dawson’s Creek made my 90s pop culture kid heart even happier. I listened to it over the course of a week at the gym (where I would normally listen to a podcast anyway). And there’s so much been said about the book and it’s contents that I thought I’d throw my 2 pennies worth in, for what it’s worth, with no spoilers.
I’ll start off by saying I did enjoy it. Michelle Williams was an inspired choice as narrator and even put a slight southern inflection on her accent when reading quotes. She absolutely did Britney justice and you forgot in places that it wasn’t Britney talking.
I also like how honest it was, whilst there are elements when I think Britney is bigging herself up a bit, she also take accountability for things that perhaps she got wrong, was naïve or regrets. And it’s a big thing for someone to admit when they’re wrong or have messed up. I also like that she’s incredibly kind about the people who worked with her, especially her dancers. It’s very classy to be able to acknowledge that no one gets where they are on their efforts alone and she gives credit where it’s due.
All the stories we know are present and correct from the humble beginnings, to the stratospheric rise, to the relationship with Justin, to Kevin to the kids, to the head shaving to the shambolic performance of Gimme More at the VMAs to the conservatorship. And obviously its all her side of these events. Some which we may already know the back story and some reasoning or justification which may surprise you.
It’s terms of anything salacious, I’m sad to say you probably know it all before you even read it because it’s all been leaked already and everyone already has had something to say about it. So it’s you’re looking for anything anything really juicy, I don’t think it’s in there. It feels very much like a canter through her live ‘this happened, then this happened, then I sent on tour’ etc etc.
I actually think she’s personally very kind about almost everybody. She doesn’t actually say anything too bad about Justin (or Kevin for that matter) more that she just tells her version of events and let’s the audience make up their mind about what type of person he is. And perhaps that’s a smart move, as, in some circumstances, the facts speak for themselves.
Whilst it isn’t as in depth and juicy as perhaps I may have liked or wanted, what it is, is very important social commentary on the pop world at that time and the say that women were treated. Bearing in mind this was decades before #metoo, it’s very very interesting how differently Britney was treated by the press in comparison to her male counter parts from opinions on after the (very public) breakdowns of her relationships, to what she wore to how she raised her children. And on that basis I think it’s a really riveting read.
Call me a cynic, and perhaps this doesn’t even matter, but in my humble opinion, she didn’t write it herself (although she says she did). I’m not saying it’s not her version of events, but anyone who knows anything about celeb culture knows that these things are out together but conducting a series of interviewer with a ghost writer who then puts together as a book. And I 100% think that’s true in this case. That doesn’t matter to me, I’d probably do the same if I were famous and someone could tell my story better than I could but if it is important to you, then perhaps something to bear in mind.
Do I think it’s the best autobiography I’ve ever read? No (that title is currently held by Lord Gary of Barlow). But is it essential for any 90s pop culture kid? Absolutely.