Reviews for The Woman In Me

by Britney Spears

Publishers Weekly
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Pop star Spears recounts her rise to superstardom and the suffering she endured during her 13-year conservatorship in this chatty and sometimes searing debut memoir. The time frame spans from Spears’s childhood in Louisiana in the 1980s to the final stages of the “Free Britney” movement in 2021, with stops in Vegas and at the VMAs in between, and the focus remains squarely on Spears’s lack of control—over her fraying family of origin, her public image, and eventually, her own life. Key revelations include the at-home abortion Spears underwent at the urging of then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, the casual drinking she engaged in with her mother as a young teen (even as her father was gripped by alcoholism), and the sordid details of the rehab stints she endured at the behest of her father, who insisted she wasn’t mentally well enough to drink coffee or drive a car even as he profited from the Las Vegas residencies he signed her up for. There’s plenty of standard-issue celeb memoir name dropping—meetings with Madonna, parties with Lenny Kravitz—but the prevailing tone is more shell-shocked than glamorous. Spears recalls hiding in cupboards when she felt overwhelmed as a child and a debilitating bout of social anxiety at the height of her career, coming across more often as a fun-loving lost lamb than a remote cultural titan. The result is affecting, infuriating, and easy to gulp down in a single sitting. (Oct.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar. Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release. Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.