Book Reviews and Highlights

Open Book

Jessica Simpson

  • Biography & Autobiography
  • Body, Mind & Spirit
  • Entertainment & Performing Arts
  • Individual Composer & Musician
  • Inspiration & Personal Growth
  • Music
  • Sometimes it was a funny story I knew would make you laugh, and other times I needed to say the scary stuff out loud, so I’d be accountable for creating change in my life.
  • Introduction | Page: v
  • Because that was my intention with this book: To pack all I’d learned the hard way into something I could give you as you start—or restart—your own journey.
  • Introduction | Page: v
  • “You have the power within yourself to make this change and to make this change for yourself,” I said, looking her right in the eye.
  • Introduction | Page: v
  • I hope you’ll let me know what you do to surprise yourself, or what you decide it’s not too late to do. Or who it’s not too late to be. I can’t wait to find out. I was afraid to stop talking to you last time, but now I know this isn’t goodbye. We’re just beginning.
  • Introduction | Page: viii
  • I kept a promise I made to myself a little over a year before to show up in my own life. To feel things, whether they were the result of bad memories, or good ones in the making.
  • Prologue | Page: 2
  • There are so many firsts to raising kids, and parents are told to catch them all. But they don’t warn you about the lasts. The last baby onesie. The last time you tie their shoes. The last time they think you have every answer in the world.
  • Prologue | Page: 3
  • For me, sitting down here with a piece of paper and a pen is like, “Hello, self! What are we gonna confront tonight?”
  • Prologue | Page: 4
  • I didn’t think I was enough, so I overcompensated by making my life a series of experiences for everyone else.
  • Prologue | Page: 7
  • Maybe you’ll relate: It’s like when everything is moving really fast, but you’ve created that speed. You’re the one who set all these great things into motion, but now they’re spinning all at once. You take a step back to try to make some sense of it, and before you know it, you’ve accidentally become a spectator to your own life, unsure how that woman who used to be you plans on doing it all. You stand there thinking, Okay, when am I gonna jump back in?
  • Prologue | Page: 7
  • I beat myself up enough with this fight club in my head that I know what can happen if I invite new members. My purpose, however, is bigger than my fear of judgment. Someone, maybe you, needs me to say the things that are scary to admit.
  • Prologue | Page: 8
  • I’ve learned that we grow from walking through it, and a lot of people don’t even know they have that option. You either conquer it, or you let it destroy you.
  • Prologue | Page: 10
  • She spent decades putting her brilliant business mind to work for our family behind the scenes. Dad had the ideas, she would fine-tune them and pull them down a bit from the stratosphere. Then Dad would sell it. He was the pitchman who could sell anything. If my dad can make people believe in God, I always thought at the start of my career, he can surely make people believe in me.
  • Part One | Page: 17
  • Growing up, there would be kids who would get baptized a lot. I always kind of rolled my eyes at that, because a lot of them did it for attention. It’s not a car wash, you know? The one time took for me.
  • Part One | Page: 43
  • In the South, there are so many secrets, and my parents were there to give people a safe place.
  • Part One | Page: 45
  • That’s the power of faith in action. It’s not about talking and judging. It’s about doing.
  • Part One | Page: 47
  • My family were all so deflated on the way to the airport. We were caught between the world where I was a regular kid and one where we were in show business. I had missed this opportunity that could bring an end to all the family fights about money and keep the peace for good. I sat with my mom on the plane, and finally she was able to see past her own disappointment to try to make me feel better.
  • Part One | Page: 68
  • Every day I came home from school and checked the mail like I’d spelled out HELP on a deserted isle. I felt marooned, still stuck between being a regular kid and being someone on TV.
  • Part One | Page: 69
  • Every parent thinks their kid has a gift, or at least they should. But Matt Casella’s words stayed with them. I had talent. I had been so close. What if I got that close again and, oh I don’t know, didn’t blow it?
  • Part One | Page: 70
  • Picture me walking in, and the hustle of a junior high morning freeze-framing to a still while people took in the big scene. They’d had two weeks to turn me into some creation of their darkest fears and fantasies, and here I was, the lesbian cheerleader holding her mommy’s hand.
  • Part One | Page: 83
  • One girl, Lesa, said hi. “I missed you,” she whispered. It was this small little beacon of kindness, a tiny light in the distance that said to keep floating and don’t sink.
  • Part One | Page: 84
  • “Look at the big picture, Jess,” my mom said, something she would say to me on a regular basis throughout my life. “Where are they going in life?”
  • Part One | Page: 85
  • We talk about bullying as a harassment issue, but it’s also about limiting opportunities and potential. I had to work hard to make up for missing two weeks of school. I really wanted to talk about To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Part One | Page: 85
  • If you are being bullied, whether it’s because you’re gay or someone decides they don’t like something about you, let me be the Lesa who says, “I see you.” You are perfectly made.
  • Part One | Page: 86
  • “Do you think he is going to kiss you?” she asked as I applied a light blush. The look I was going for was sexy but saved. Come hither but leave room for the Lord.
  • Part One | Page: 88
  • On Valentine’s Day, my parents agreed to let Jason have dinner at my house, with my parents, of course. The plan was that I was going to cook for him. My mom suggested that we make this peppermint ice cream pie we’d never made before.
  • Part One | Page: 88
  • “I had my first kiss,” I said. My mom tried to pretend to be shocked at the admission, but all that fake yawning had exhausted her acting abilities. “You knew that was gonna happen,” I said. “All the peppermints.”
  • Part One | Page: 89
  • My dad told me Jason had asked permission to kiss me the week before. “I told him it was just for tonight,” he said. “Just tonight?” I asked. “Just tonight,” he answered, as my mom rolled her eyes.
  • Part One | Page: 89
  • “To whom much is given, much is expected” was something my parents had always told me. So the expectation to be great, that was everything to me.
  • Part One | Page: 94
  • My dreams felt grand but worn down, just like old, jilted Miss Havisham, still wearing her wedding dress in the dusty but still-gilded mansion of Satis House. But I kept trying to make them happen, because I felt called to music.
  • Part One | Page: 94
  • When the sound engineer, Chuck Webster, said they were fine, I said I was a perfectionist and asked him to just trash the tapes. If I was going to do mainstream music, I didn’t want it to sound like okay karaoke.
  • Part Two | Page: 108
  • There were so few women in the offices, and I’d never felt so Southern, standing there with my long pink nails and hair so high to be nearer my God to thee.
  • Part Two | Page: 111
  • On the outside, I seem very calm, but inside there’s a tornado. The doubts and fears swirl and I keep trying to grab them to compartmentalize them.
  • Part Two | Page: 113
  • “I want to be an example to girls all over the world,” I said, “that you don’t have to compromise your values to be successful.”
  • Part Two | Page: 113
  • Right after we all took a picture, Tommy looked me up and down. “Okay, you gotta lose fifteen pounds,” Tommy told me. “What?” I said, not really understanding. I was five-foot-three and weighed 118 pounds. And I was seventeen.
  • Part Two | Page: 115
  • I immediately went on an extremely strict diet, and started taking diet pills, which I would do for the next twenty years. It’s important that I say this now, if only for my daughter, whenever she reads this: You are perfect as you are. But at the time, this is what we thought we had to do.
  • Part Two | Page: 115
  • A pastor becomes a father, a shepherd to the flock, and when they leave, people can feel lost.
  • Part Two | Page: 116
  • I worked hard on my album, but Columbia always had some reason to delay. Well, two. Jive was pushing Britney Spears’s album to press, which then made RCA really rush Christina Aguilera’s album. As the label argued over calling me Jessica Simpson or just Jessica, there was a sense that I would get lost among the invasion of the teen blondes. I could not believe these two girls were getting in front of me again.
  • Part Two | Page: 118
  • I got word there was a halt on my album and the label decided I didn’t have the right songs and needed more Britney-type songs. I had been signed for my voice, but I had to now contort myself into this mold of a dancer.
  • Part Two | Page: 120
  • All those years I had waited to hear my voice on the radio. I remember exhaling, like I had finally done it. It was, without question, one of the greatest moments of my professional life.
  • Part Two | Page: 133
  • “I want a six-pack for the next video,” he said. “Janet Jackson abs.”
  • Part Two | Page: 133
  • “Jessica, I am so excited for you,” she said. “You have so much ahead of you, and I want you to remember one thing I have learned: The best competition is always our own selves.”
  • Part Two | Page: 140
  • The best competition is always our own selves, I thought. Who knows who Celine was told she had to be when she started out, and later, even with all her success, who she was told she had to be to stay at the top?
  • Part Two | Page: 141
  • “I don’t normally do ‘Your Faith in Me,’ but I don’t want to disappoint you, Lauren.” I said. “Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do. You can lose track sometimes. This song is for people like Lauren, and any of you who feel connected to me through my music. If you feel it, I feel it, too, and you all inspire me to keep on keepin’ on.”
  • Part Two | Page: 149
  • “It’s nice to be someone else for a while,” I admitted. “To not have to play me.”
  • Part Two | Page: 205
  • “This is Mortaritaville,” one soldier told me. “You get used to it.”“Well, when you’re back home, I hope you get to Margaritaville,” I said. “You can really get used to that.”
  • Part Two | Page: 218
  • There was a life waiting for me, I told myself. I owed it to the people in it to be brave.
  • Part Two | Page: 231
  • “Just give it another shot,” she said. “Mom, you sound like your mom,” I said. I knew that would sting, but I couldn’t help myself. Like all mothers and daughters, especially strong-willed, dynamic ones, they, too, had a complicated relationship.
  • Part Two | Page: 234
  • Whatever you are going through, the sun will come.
  • Part Two | Page: 242
  • How many times are women made to feel responsible for the actions of men? I know now that I wasn’t, but back then, it felt like I needed to fix him.
  • Part Three | Page: 250
  • Another reason I have succeeded when other celebrities haven’t is one small but very important decision I made when I signed: a noncompete clause. I didn’t want Vince to be able to sign any other celebrities without asking me.
  • Part Three | Page: 258
  • The point is that you must take care of yourself, even when you are given an amazing opportunity.
  • Part Three | Page: 259
  • You’ve been listening to me talk, so I want to hear from you. Press pause for a second on your life and ask yourself, What is my calling?
  • Part Three | Page: 259
  • I think sometimes we get so caught up in the vessel of the work rather than what matters: the spirit that fills it.
  • Part Three | Page: 259
  • You’re the only one who has the power to be the best you, I thought. Nobody else can do that for you.
  • Part Three | Page: 289
  • You can have people encourage you and talk to you all day long about your potential, but if you’re not there, ready and willing to be that for yourself, you’ll never be fulfilled.
  • Part Three | Page: 290
  • We beat ourselves up too much. We have nothing to prove to anyone, not even ourselves.
  • Part Three | Page: 306
  • Give a girl an insult, she’ll feel bad for a day, but teach her to hate her body, she’ll feel bad forever.
  • Part Three | Page: 323
  • You probably have that someone, too. I think it’s okay every now and again to reflect on that time. Get down the box from the top shelf of the emotional closet and marvel at the things that used to mean so much. The keepsakes of our mistakes, the souvenirs of lost years. But know when to start making new memories with people who deserve the you that you are now.
  • Part Three | Page: 326
  • I take on the problems of my friends and family, and now I was burdened with this secret that I felt responsible for.
  • Part Four | Page: 356
  • I have more sympathy for myself now than I did then, which I know is the story of a lot of women’s lives. We are kind in hindsight.
  • Part Four | Page: 366
  • I let myself get too stressed about it. It was the wrapping-paper thing I do—where I overthink how I package a gift for someone when they’re only going to tear through it to get to what matters. I overworked myself on every detail, but Eric and I did really want this wedding to be for our friends.
  • Part Four | Page: 370
  • I’d found a doctor, what in L.A. you call a rock doc. “What will help me lose the most weight?” was my very first question. It’s awful to remember me saying those words, but my vanity had returned, despite all the work I had done to accept myself. Frankly, I liked how people treated me when I was skinny.
  • Part Four | Page: 377
  • I thought if I was skinny, I was powerful.
  • Part Four | Page: 377
  • I wanted to start journaling again, pick up a pen and confront who I had become and challenge myself to be better.
  • Part Four | Page: 381
  • Any homework she gave me, I wanted an A-plus-plus-plus, so when my therapist prescribed an antidepressant, I took it right away.
  • Part Four | Page: 387
  • I’d been selfish with my time and careless with my life. Now I wanted to give back and have a life of purpose again.
  • Part Four | Page: 389
  • I wouldn’t change a single thing about my story, because I finally love who I am, and I can forgive who I was.
  • Part Four | Page: 400
  • “Sometimes we are all so afraid to be honest with ourselves because we know that honesty will lead to somewhere.” I wrote this ten years ago. “Can fear walk us to something better?”
  • Part Four | Page: 401
  • I had to walk through my fear to be here writing to you about the painful moments of my life.
  • Part Four | Page: 401
  • We need to own our weakness, our hurt, our pain, and say it out loud so that we can name what is coming up and why.
  • Part Four | Page: 401
  • You deserve it. You deserve to feel the heartbreak and the pain so that once and for all you stop holding yourself back from feeling whatever it is you’ve tried to mask.
  • Part Four | Page: 401
  • I love journaling because I have found it to be a place of compassion for my mistakes and a challenge to learn from them. It reveals all the hidden places, and as you discover and move through them, you see that that’s where all the answers are.
  • Photo Section | Page: 402