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Over the Top

A Raw Journey to Self-Love
Written by: Jonathan Van Ness
Narrated by: Jonathan Van Ness
Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
5 out of 5 stars (465 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

Google's Best Audiobooks of 2019

NPR's Favorite Books of the Year

Indie Best Seller

Goodreads Choice Award Winner: Best Memoir & Autobiography

A laugh-and-cry-out-loud memoir from the beloved star of Netflix’s Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness, sharing never-before-told, deeply personal stories of growing up gay, transforming pain into positivity, and embracing what makes you gorgeously different.

Who gave Jonathan Van Ness permission to be the radiant human he is today? No one, honey.

The truth is, it hasn’t always been gorgeous for this beacon of positivity and joy.

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so...over the top. From choreographed carpet figure-skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule, and trauma - yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.

Over the Top uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen. JVN fans may think they know the man behind the stiletto heels, the crop tops, and the iconic sayings, but there’s much more to him than meets the queer eye.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll come away knowing that no matter how broken or lost you may be, you’re a Kelly Clarkson song, you’re strong, and you’ve got this.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Jonathan Van Ness (P)2019 HarperAudio

What the critics say

"Jonathan Van Ness narrates his hilarious and moving memoir with all the bright energy he's known for - no one but the queer icon himself could narrate his story.... Van Ness holds no emotions back as he shares the impact of that trauma, along with the difficulty of growing up femme and gay, learning of his HIV-positive diagnosis, and recovering from addiction. His voice shakes as he shares a powerful truth with listeners: 'We are never too broken to heal.'" (AudioFile Magazine)

"There is plenty to laugh at in the ways Van Ness frames his story - like protecting the identities of his loved ones, exes, fellow drug addicts and johns with 'Russian aliases' like Doroteya and Sergei and Helenskaya; or layering pop-culture references with the ways they formed him, as many queer comedians and artists do. But it is his candid articulation of his evolving relationship with himself, his acceptance of who he is, that brings the one-liners their sweetness. His narration, as pithy and 'over the top' as his beloved TV persona, is incredibly endearing. The battles that Van Ness has waged against the darker corners of his soul to become the bright light we know today provide the necessary context for this book to shine." (The New York Times Book Review)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • bre
  • 2020-01-06

I love these guys' stories

this was so hard to stop reading. also hilarious. also inspiring. highly recommend. 10/10 would read again

1 person found this helpful

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An inspiration.

This book is Genuine and Raw. Loved hearing his story in his voice. It made me see issues people face on a daily basis through different eyes.

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easy, funny listen

It was a nice easy listen, I love the way he narrated, lots of funny moments that had me laughing out loud. It was a great honest life story, only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is I felt like he could have dug deeper, gone into more detail about his feelings and personal growth etc.

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Super amazing and gorgeous :inside and out

Love Jonathan and everything THEY stand for . I am so happy to live my life better and full of more love because of this inspiring biography!💝💕💝🦄💗🧡💙💛💝💕💗🧡💙💛

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JVN is fun, but scattered.

Love listening to JVN - am a big fan. So, obviously that's what made this memoir. Wonderful to get such honest insights from someone who has lived a lot of lives in one lifetime. The storytelling however, is all over the place. I found myself getting invested in vignettes only to be taken on a tangent...and then the storyline would be veering in another direction. In the end, there are themes that pull this book together, and Jonathan's voice is a joy to listen to, but the book could have used a bit of shaping and attention to pay-off.

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Everything I wanted in an Autobiography!

Jonathan's story kept me fully immersed the entire time. I knew him from Gay of Thrones and of course fell in love with his bubbly, radiant personality on Queer Eye. I laughed and cried as he took me on this journey of teen angst, heartbreak, love, addiction struggles and eventual fame. I can't wait to see even more of what is to come from him and I can absolutely say after reading this book I still love him.

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JVN is the shining light we all needed

I love this book, I love Jonathans honesty and sweetness, and their consideration for complicated issues and politics. I listen to getting curious in the mornings and it always wakes me up in a wonderful way. Jonathan is a gift and they continue to provide beauty and kindness to the world in so many ways all of the time.
listen to this for good feelings and sad feelings and laughter that makes you fluttery.
Love u JVN

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Extremely empowering

Absolutely love this book it felt like he was talking to me and reading my story thank you Jonathan love you

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Funny and raw, absolutely worth it!

I believe everyone should read/listen to this book. So often in our life we lack understanding and compassion for people who are different or for ourselves, and Jonathan's story is such a great example of how to overcome those feelings. Not to mention it's hilarious!

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I loved this book!

I love that Jonathan narrated the book. It wouldn’t have been the same with out him!
Thankyou for sharing your story Jonathan!

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  • Russell Ricard
  • 2019-09-29

Raw and Bravely inspiring Story

I’m grateful for creative and vulnerable souls like Jonathan Van Ness who inspire us toward our braver selves. Sure there’s glam, glitter, and wit in his memoir, Over The Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love, but Van Ness shares an extraordinarily honest voice (a particular treat in the audio version) that de-stigmatizes so much in society revolving around our understanding of well being, gender roles, and self awareness. Juxtaposing health, wellness, medical, self help research studies/theories with his deeply moving, and at times truly dark life experiences, adds to his story’s impact. I agree with him when he says, “The key is being grounded in the relationship with yourself.” All told, Van Ness is a survivor who continues his winning streak against all the bullies from his past.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Cookie2703
  • 2019-09-24

Everything I knew it would be and more.

Jonathan is unapologetically honest about his journey. I cried before the end of Chapter 1. Jonathan’s positivity, enduring spirit, and determination has changed my life and learning more about his past and what’s made him the beautiful ball of light he shares with the world today, makes me admire him even more. Loved loved loved it.

15 people found this helpful

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  • After The Final Page Reviews
  • 2019-09-25

You'll laugh, cry, and scream "Yasss Queen!"

"Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love" is exactly that; it's what you expect, but so much more. We get an authentic look at his journey from early childhood all the way to "Queer Eye" in true JVN fashion.

All I can say is buckle up, because it's one hell of a ride.

The way in which JVN opens the door and invites us into his story felt like sitting on a couch with a new friend; open and honest but still a little hesitant in some truly vulnerable places. But you feel like he's holding your hand while continuing to move through the painful memories together to find the humor and light. While excruciatingly raw at times (I felt like I had cold water splashed on me at some of the most difficult points), JVN perseveres to overcome the tragedy of his past and allows his spirit shines through.

"Over the Top" will give you all the feels. You come away from the book cheering, enlightened, and feeling more connected.

And yes, Jonathan, we still love you.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Ian
  • 2019-10-23

My favorite Audiobook

A moving and hilarious story that is not read but preformed. I’d recommend this book to anyone but particularly those struggling with their own self worth.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Boone
  • 2019-09-25

You will laugh and cry

This is the first time I've finished an audio book. I adore JVN and his sassy voice. This story was exactly what I needed to hear to help get out of my own head. I was strugs to func but this book had me ready to take on the world.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-30

you'll love him even more!!

great book. finished it in a day.. what a story!! you wont want to stop until the end.

3 people found this helpful

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  • JesseS94
  • 2019-10-04

A Story that Needs Told

Hearing this story has made me understand that I am not alone in my traumatic experiences. Thank you Jonathan for showing that you can make better choices and inspire those who need it. This book was absolutely inspiring and will be a highly recommended read throughout my life.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mslarevalo
  • 2019-10-04

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It was an excellent read. I laughed, cried, laughed some more, pondered - reflected. It’s a good authentic read. I really enjoyed reading Jonathan’s (& baby Jack’s) journey toward healing and respected his honesty that healing is an ever evolving process. And to answer his initial question at the beginning of the book: not only did I love, admire and accept JVN before reading this book, I adore, honor and unconditionally accept his honesty even more. It takes a lot to be vulnerable about ALL of yourself to the world. And I hope his journey will help others to love themselves & accept themselves just as they are - because you are always worth it Queen! Much love 🙏❤️

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  • Michelle H.
  • 2019-09-26

Over the Moon with Over The Top!

Oh, Jonathan! Henny! Thank you for your openness, vulnerability, bravery and willingness to share all the parts of you. You’re an amazing human! Your story touched my heart in ways you will never know!

Absolutely loved this book! I hope for a sequel in 30 years!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Melissa Jay
  • 2019-09-26

A M A Z I N G !

Thank you, Jonathan, for your raw, real & really bravery.
This book is very important.
Thank you.

2 people found this helpful