Sometimes less really is more.
As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I love reading celeb bios. Now I know that a lot of people criticize this, as the bio is largely written by a secondary author who just translated the celebs story into something palatable. I don’t mind this. I believe the every genre and every book should not be held by the same standard. It would be pointless to compare celeb bio to a social commentary and expect that any type of rating would be fair, as they are written for different states of mind and purposes. That being said, I would say that if you are a fan of celeb bios, or if you are a Jodie Sweetin fan, this book is definitely a great read.
The thing I liked most about this book was that it was well-written. It was extremely clear and focused. The last celeb bio I read definitely was not, so I was a little concerned about this going in. Other than a brief introduction, it was written chronologically, and was written in a way that drew a reader in and never let them go, as it was so easy to breeze through. I read the book in a day, and actually, the majority of it I read in between the dentist exiting and entering the room during my root canal.
The book started with telling a short story about Jodie at the height of her addiction. Now the review on the cover of the book reads “Painfully honest and unairbrushed.” – EW.com. Personally, I’ve never experienced drug addiction, and I think it’s unfair to comment on that at all, seeing as I have no legitimate way to back it up. I will say it was surprising for me to read, as I had always seen Jodie Sweetin the way she’d been presented to me on Full House, then Fuller House, and on magazines. Warm, smiling, healthy. I was intrigued to see how this disease had developed in her, but I was a little confused at the story seeming to start in the middle.
I was quickly relieved when I saw that Chapter One served as an introduction, and the biography section of the book really started at Chapter Two. She quickly delved into her life working on Full House and the sense of family she had with the cast. She spent a bit of time describe the way that, despite her family trying to listen to her desires and signals, and trying to keep her childhood as normal as possible and giving her a get out of jail free card she could use at any time, she still felt the pressures of being on the show, and living up to not only the producer’s, but also America’s, expectations.
I immediately felt those warm feelings I’ve always felt towards Jodie. It shows a lot of character that, although she showed the pressures she faced and described how certain experiences and feelings of not belonging made her vulnerable to addiction, she didn’t try to blame her later addiction issues on her parents or her cast mates. I appreciated that, and was pleased to see that as the book, and her descriptions of actual addiction appeared, she continued this trend of not placing blame on others or pointing fingers.
Although Jodie explained the rationale behind her choices as her addiction grew, she never tried to make herself out to be the victim and she never got overly apologetic about her actions either. She admitted they were utterly wrong, but didn’t dwell as she presented this to the reader. I thought this was a good decision writing-wise, as it never left the reader feeling uncomfortable or as if they should be feeling sorry for Jodie.
Jodie opened up about multiple relapses, and the way it is impossible for someone who lives with the disease of drug or alcohol addiction to self-moderate without spiraling back down. I particularly appreciated this discussion. Relapses are often not discussed in public, and I think many people are uneducated about the fact that an alcoholic, once recovering, can NEVER have another drink again without it being a problem. I think of all the times when someone who has publicly been clean for a while suddenly passes away of an overdose, or is back in rehab, and people around me judge, asking why this has happened. They think that because someone has figured out how to live without drugs or alcohol before that they are “recovered” or cured from addiction. Its interesting to see from a recovering addict’s point of view why this type of thinking is so dangerous and from a personal standpoint why it doesn’t work that way.
By the end Jodie has discussed addiction, her adoption, multiple relapses (and hiding them), two failed marriages, and her re-commitment to staying clean in order to be a good mother. The book ends with an open letter from Jodie to her daughter. The ending doesn’t feel like an ending though. It feels like an acceptance of where Jodie is in that moment, in 2009 when this book was written. It leaves you wondering where Jodie is in her path now, but also with a feeling like the story has been glazed over by a one-line attempt at a happy ending.
When reading the back cover, one part of the description really jumps out to me, “Hers is not a story of success or defeat”. In the end, I think this summarizes the whole book. There isn’t a clear end to the story of her addiction in the book, because that story has not ended yet. It is always a constant battle, as is the nature of the disease. By the end of this book, Jodie has not yet found peace, but seems a little more ready to fight for it. I hope all has gone well for her in the 7 years since.