The singer certainly doesn’t hold back in this engaging and ultimately sad autobiography.
Anyone who has been expecting a glamorous re-telling of Britney Spears’ life in the spotlight will have to think again when reading this punchy, nothing held back autobiography that sees her telling her story and how things quickly unraveled during the height of her fame.
Written with great clarity, from the start you really get a sense of just how cathartic it must be for Britney to be able to finally tell her story to world and hopefully start the process of healing that she clearly needs – but also find people that she can trust and rely on. From her childhood in which she describes her love of music and singing (and there are some lighter moments early on) to reach the dizzying heights of fame through to the terrible conservatorship it is a real rollercoaster of emotions – but equally it is a cautionary tale of the exploitation that exists in the music industry.
While much has already been made in the media since the release of the book about the break up of her relationship with Justin Timberlake and her abortion, it is actually the way in which she describes the increasing pressure placed on her by her family and those in the music industry to keep performing and being pushed to breaking point and taking away her love of performing and singing that is chilling to read. As the book goes on, you can see how she increasingly felt as though she was more of an object rather than a human to do other people’s bidding – chillingly made clear in one moment by her father saying to her ‘I’m Britney Spears’. This is a book that will leave you feeling angry at how things spiralled out of control for her and sadly has left her with a distrust of people which understandably will take some time for to get back.
But what is her strength in telling the world about some of her most difficult moments in her life . Her anger, pain and actually bemusement as well at the attitude of her family who were supposed to support and love her were content to take control of her is evident on every single page and is heartbreaking to read. The way in which she would do and put up with anything in order for her to have any small contact with her children shows just how strong she was in terms of having to deal with everything that the world was throwing at her – while still in the public eye is incredible.
Throughout it all, she is articulate – including when she discusses her stays in rehab because she attempted to rebel and reclaim control of her life. The second time is particularly horrifying to read, as she was put on lithium (which she recalls her grandmother was on leading to tragedy) and sees her entering a nightmare in which she thought she would never escape. Every incident that is recalled is extraordinary – including her being fed only chick and canned vegetables for several years, leading to her begging the butler for a burger to be told no due to explicit orders from her father. Every aspect of her life was shockingly controlled.
However, Britney also makes clear just how valuable the support of her fans has been over the years. From being told about the #FreeBritney movement which helped her find a spark to keep going and to keep fighting to finally having the conservatorship removed, her gratitude to the fans is clear and extremely warm. On every page you feel that she is confiding in each and every person reading the book and there is a sense of gratitude that is evident that she is glad that we are taking the time reading her story.
It is a raw, gritty and powerful read that is well worth reading. Let’s hope that by speaking up about her experiences, Britney is helping break down barriers to prevent others working in the industry from ever going through what she did.
By Emma Clarendon
The Woman in Me is available to buy and download now.