Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Lynne Spears warns in the introduction of her book that it's not a "juicy tell-all," and the truth is that readers won't be privileged to much inside information on her famous daughters, Britney and Jamie Lynn. Instead, this memoir tells the story of a relatable woman dealing with both the ordinary and extrordinary challenges of raising her famous children.

The first half of the book paints a picture of a simple life in the South--complete with crawdad cookouts--punctuated by the grief of living with an alcoholic husband and keeping creditors at bay. Some of Britney's early experiences with audtions and talent shows are mentioned, and Spears often asserts that she never pushed her daughter into show business and never guessed at the level of fame Britney would attain. She spends much time alluding to the hardships that would come later, but most of the early chapters of the book focus on Lynne Spears' personal ups and downs dealing with ailing family members and the task of raising three children alongside an alcoholic husband.

The rest of the book discusses how Spears and her family have dealt with the whirlwind of fame. Spears touches on experiences with Britney's budding career, admitting her own naivete at handling her daughter's rise to fame. For example, she allowed Rolling Stone to do a photo shoot in Britney's bedroom and then was shocked to find that instead of taking pictures of Britney amid her stuffed animals and posters, the photographer was capturing shots of the then seventeen-year-old in a bra and hot pants. Spears also discusses younger daughter Jamie Lynn's rise and fall, which culminates in the teen's pregnancy.

While most of the book is surprisingly quiet, revealing no real shocking details, it reaches a page-turning climax with Spears' recounting of the flurry of events surrounding Britney's forced institutionalizations. Spears chronicles the disturbing influence of Sam Lutfi, a paparazzo who supposedly had Britney under lock and key and even want so far as to allegedly crush perscription pills and put them in Britney's food.

Overall, Spears comes across as a likeable women telling her story in a quaint, come-sit-on-the-porch-and-listen-a-while kind of way. She defends the role she has played in her daughters's careers but also admits her faults as a mother and emphasizes her faith. One of the appeals of the book is that Spears makes her story sound like it could have happened to anyone. Ultimately, the spirit of the book is captured in a suprising wish Spears has for daughter Britney: to throw off the "breathy, super-produced pop-voice given to her by record producers" and regain her "strong, true voice again, in more ways than one."

Read an excerpt here.


moonrat said...

Interesting, Cheryl. You're the first person I know who's read this. I'm especially interested in your take since these "safe" memoirs are often less than satisfying (read: devoid of meaningful content). I've worked on them in the past and have always been frustrated how much good, interesting information that I would have thought innocent gets vetoed by vetting lawyers.

But this book was a huge deal in publishing because the deal was announced shortly (I think one week!) before JL's pregnancy, and there were a lot of questions about what the book would be in the end (I think originally it was supposed to be a parenting how-to).

So overall you'd recommend?

Cheryl said...

The lack of insider details was frustrating, and the book starts off being rather slow, but Lynne comes across as so very likable that I really enjoyed this. Also, the last few chapters are really fascinating and DO have that insider info you want.

If anything pick it up at the bookstore and read the last few chapters.

Btw, Spears claims that this book was never going to be a how-to kind of thing. The last chapter does list what she would have done differently as a parent, but whether that was originally the focus of the book we'll never know.

Cheryl said...

Oh! Also wanted to mention I was sent a complimentary copy of this book for review, and this review is also posted on Amazon.