Okay, so I recently finished reading Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far by Bristol Palin. (Well, not actually by Bristol Palin; she had a writer. Which, frankly, kind of blows my mind considering the simplistic nature of the writing…but anyway…)
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me start by saying that this book was 90% off at Borders. Had it not been, I’m sure it never would have ended up in my hands. But due to my constant effort to shake up my reading choices, and the fact that I generally do enjoy memoirs, (and that, as a rule lately, I am broke and desperate to “shop”) I figured I could fork over $2.59.
It was $2.59 well spent. I’ll be honest: the writing is fresh, it flows well, and there’s enough drama (duh, it’s the Palins!) to keep things interesting all the way through. Even though I’ve been super busy lately and still have library books that are both partially-read and overdue, I somehow found the time to read this whole thing in about 4 days.
So you’re probably wondering, why did I bother to blog about it, since I sound mildly conflicted about whether or not it’s actually worth reading (and/or paying full price for)?
Well, here’s the thing: I get that the Palins have had to do a lot of damage control over the last few years. In the brouhaha that was the presidential race, a lot of shit went down, and we all know by now that Sarah Palin lost a lot of popularity along the way. (We also know that she has decided to not run for President in 2012, a fact that surprised, I think, almost no one.)
I am, and always have been, very indifferent about the Palins. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them, and for the sake of this blog, I’m not going to bother stating whether my vote went to the Obama or McCain ticket in 2008.
So, I dove into this book knowing that Bristol had a lot of cleaning up to do. This was her chance to speak her side of the story – to clear up miscommunications about her family, to dispel misconceptions about what really happened between her and Levi Johnston, and to try and (hopefully) leave people with a good taste in their mouth about the Palin family name.
I think she accomplished that as well as she could. There were anecdotes shared in the book that couldn’t have been easy to share – some of them were probably embarrassing or downright mortifying. But it would appear Bristol went about telling her story as frankly as she could, in an effort to woo people to her side with honesty and humility.
Here’s what I don’t get: in a book that seems to overflow with desperate honesty, there are some glaring question marks.
I almost choked on the story about Bristol losing her virginity. We get to hear the gory (or, not-so-gory, as it turns out) details near the beginning of the book. She claims to have lost her virginity to Levi during a camping trip with friends…a trip her mother thought was merely a sleepover at a girlfriend’s house. Okay, sounds plausible enough. But the actual details of the story?
Bristol claims (through words written by Nancy French, of course) that she was just a happy, innocent bystander in an evening gone awry. She actually describes it, at one point, as unknowingly descending into “the quicksand of sexual sin”. Really?
First off, how am I, the reader, supposed to swallow that? I don’t believe any teenage girl thinks in those terms, in those phrases. No twenty year old woman uses that kind of language, either, no matter how much maturing she’s had to do in recent years! It’s like a phrase torn straight from a church pamphlet, or, as I like to suspect, spoken from the mouth of Mama Bear Palin.
It gets worse.
Bristol claims she remembers nothing from the moment she “surrendered to their woozy charms” (‘their’ being the wine coolers that “Levi kept replacing…from his large stash”) to the moment the next day when a girlfriend told her, “You definitely had sex with Levi.”
Wait…I’m sorry, what?
It’s magical how Bristol can remember nothing from the moment she was sitting in a camp chair drinking wine coolers to the moment she woke up naked in someone else’s tent. Nothing? I’m sorry, but for the sake of honesty here, I’m going to tell you that I can remember a hell of a lot of details from my two worst drinking binges (even the one that put me in the hospital), despite forgetting the majority of what happened those nights. There are still details. Snippets. So, total oblivion, memory erased for good?
I don’t buy it for a second.
I also don’t buy the idea that Bristol was taken advantage of against her will, in a group setting. Something tells me that if poor wittle Bristol, the good, Christian, abstinence-til-marriage girl, had passed out in her camp chair from drinking, and Levi Johnston attempted to carry her limp body to his tent, one of her girlfriends would have said something.
The whole story reeks of BS.
I’m not saying she made an educated decision to have sex. I’m not saying she got drunk and horny and jumped Levi’s bones, either. But what I am saying is that Bristol’s attempt to absolve herself of responsibility for committing that first “sexual sin” just doesn’t ring true.
She takes full responsibility for the rest of the premarital sex – right down to when she got pregnant with Tripp. But that first time? Nope. It was allll Levi and the wine coolers.
The rest of the book didn’t piss me off so much. (Unless you count the tales of Levi Johnston’s constant douchebaggery – which, trust me, would be difficult for even a Palin-hater to enjoy. That guy is moose shit dipped in whale sperm.)
I’d even go as far as admitting that the book left me feeling a little sorry for the Palins, and impressed with the way they handled the election/pregnancy shitstorm.
But there was one more tale that left me irked.
In the recounting of her stint on Dancing With The Stars, Bristol makes a point of talking about how she felt out of place in California because “the people I met…were so obsessed with their bodies, their clothes, and their cars.” She later adds that being at the opposite end of the spectrum – on a trip to ravaged Haiti – was an eye-opener, and wisely states, “‘Body image’ problems only exist because of our country’s wealth, our prosperity, our laptops connecting us with blog accounts, those pesky cameras that add fifteen pounds, and those airbrushed magazines that take off thirty.”
Sounds like a girl who’s got her head screwed on straight.
Oh, wait. Speaking of her head…
2010 vs 2011
According to the Palin camp, what we see on the right is the result of “corrective jaw surgery”.
Oh, my mistake. I originally mistook it for “sickening hypocrisy”.
For a girl who loves to talk about “Alaskan girls” and their “Carharrts and jeans”, Bristol sure took to a different road as soon as she had cash in her pocket. I don’t care if she really did need “corrective jaw surgery” – fine. That would have changed the alignment of her face slightly, creating an altered appearance. What it wouldn’t do, however, is give her a visible chin implant, suck the fat out of her cheeks and neck, plump her lips, widen her eyes, and shape her eyebrows.
That’s some damn specific corrective surgery!
At the very least, considering this book was written after Bristol had gotten her “hefty check” from Dancing With The Stars (her words, not mine), she should have toned it down in the piety department. There had to have been some part of her that knew she intended to get plastic surgery – perhaps she’d already scheduled the recovery time – because there simply was not a big enough time gap between DWTS, the creation of this book, and the dramatically-unveiled results for Bristol to not have known. In fact, I suspect (though it’s difficult to be sure due to the angle) that one of the last pictures in the book already shows Bristol sporting her new chin.
So c’mon. Had it not been for my overall enjoyment of the book, and the fact that I paid an absurdly reduced price of $2.59 to purchase it in the first place, I would have felt misled.
Had I paid the full $25.99 cover price? I probably would have wanted a refund.
And speaking of refunds, Bristol Leno might want to consider asking for one herself.
I’m just sayin’.