Open Book by Jessica Simpson is a poignant memoir where she describes her successes and failures in a relatable way.
Once a part of the line of the teen pop machines introduced in the late 1990s, Jessica Simpson stood out with her debut ballad “I Wanna Love You Forever” getting the attention of divas from Whitney Houston to Celine Dion at a time when that type of powerhouse voice was disappearing from airplay. Growing up with a pastor father in a Baptist family, Jessica moves all over Texas, even with a stint in Colorado, where her father presides over multiple churches. They finally settle down in Richardson, Texas, and her big voice gets attention. She even tried out for the Mickey Mouse Club with her future industry friends: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera. She bombs the final audition even though Disney had sent her to acting school with Chuck Norris with her acting partner being the actor who embodied Barney, the purple dinosaur. That’s just one of the fun celebrity connections. She eventually finds fame when she signs with Columbia Records and gets a voice teacher who tells her she reminds industry folks of another young Texan songstress—Beyoncé Knowles.
She talks about her marriage with fellow pop star Nick Lachey and feeling the doubt before the walk down the aisle. In her early twenties haze, she learns she wanted to be a wife before she was ready and imagined herself like her mother and grandmother before her marrying at a young age. And she was a virgin, which exploded in the media more than she thought it would be. Once her marriage falls apart, she finds herself involved in an emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville, her The Dukes of Hazzard co-star. That’s the start of her love life coming under a microscope, most likely dating back to her days of simply stating she was a virgin and the media following her every love misstep.
One of the greater touching elements is the dedication to her cousin Sarah, who died at eighteen the summer before college in a freak accident. This defines Jessica’s life with her motivating to start a prayer journal because Sarah had one, and Jessica learns her name was under every date; her cousin was always praying for her. Jessica didn’t know she had all those prayers on her, especially after she deals with being molested by the daughter of a family friend. This haunts her later when she confides in the wrong person.
Along with her faith, Jessica is candid about her body perception issues, alcohol abuse, and how she still lost her way after making the comeback of helming a billion-dollar eponymous fashion brand and starting the family of her dreams. It shows her humanness that seems to be forgotten in the coverage of celebrities and their real problems.
Overall, the elements of her story are relatable, and she works at telling her story that way with her celebrity status. She sees her mistakes and understands how hard they were to overcome. On audiobook, her voice is flawless, breaking with emotion when it needs to and joking with the fun parts. At the end of the audiobook, there are six original songs that relate to her journey of writing down her story. It’s one of those more memorable celebrity memoirs because she strives to engage with her fans on a human level.