Friday, June 7, 2019

Book Review: Don't Stop Believin' by Olivia Newton-John

Title: Don't Stop Believin'
Author: Olivia Newton-John
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 12th 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography
For more than five decades, Olivia Newton-John has been one of our most successful and adored entertainers. A four-time Grammy Award winner, she is one of the world’s bestselling recording artists of all time, with more than 100 million albums sold. Her starring roles in the iconic movies Grease and Xanadu catapulted her into super-stardom. Her appeal as a performer is timeless.

In addition to her music and screen successes, Olivia is perhaps best known for her strength, courage, and grace. After her own personal journeys with cancer, she has thrived and become an inspiration for millions around the world. A tireless advocate for countless charities, her true passion is as the founding champion of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Olivia has always radiated joy, hope, and compassion—determined to be a force for good in the world.

Now she is sharing her journey, from Melbourne schoolgirl to international superstar, in this deeply personal book. Warm, candid, and moving, Don’t Stop Believin' is Olivia Newton-John's story in her own words for the very first time.

I was obsessed with Olivia Newton-John as a little girl. As a little girl, I knew all of her songs by heart, and I had watched all of her movies over and over. I do admit that as I grew up, my obsession faded. However, when I saw Olivia's autobiography, Don't Stop Believin', on the shelf at my local library, I decided to give it a read. While it was enjoyable, it just came across as kind of preachy.

Olivia Newton-John rose to fame in the United States as the character of Sandy in the movie Grease. She also had a bunch of hit songs and records afterwards. Olivia's autobiography does mention her rise to fame although I felt as if there wasn't enough time spent on her rise to fame. She does write about her time with Grease and other films as well as recording her songs throughout the book. I felt the movies and songs were written about well.

We get a taste of her life as a child in England and Australia, although I felt she didn't discuss her pre-fame life too much. I would have liked to read more about her childhood instead of just being rushed into when she started performing. I know Olivia Newton-John likes to keep her private life out of the limelight, but when writing an autobiography, it's important to give the reader a little more details than what Don't Stop Believin' gave us.

There was so much name dropping throughout this book! While I understand that famous people know other famous people, sometimes I felt as if Olivia was dropping names just for show instead of because it fit the story. You have a lot of famous friends. We get it!

Another thing that annoyed me about the book was how some parts seemed like an advertisement for her Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre as well as for her husband, John Easterling's, herb company. I know she's done so much for her cancer center, (which I give her mad props for), but she goes on and on about how great and lovely of a place it was especially after she was an inpatient there. Of course the staff would treat her better when her name is on the building! There's more than one chapter devoted to how great the place is. I'm sure it is lovely, but I felt like I didn't need to a chapter (and more) about how great it is. As for her husband's herb company, she went on and on towards the end of the book how his herbs really helped her out which is great, but again, does the reader really need the specifics and being told over and over again how helpful it was?

The major thing that annoyed me was how preachy Don't Stop Believin' was in a lot of chapters. In fact, it made me feel guilty sometimes that I rely on modern medicine. Olivia writes how she'd rather take the natural approach to fighting off viruses and diseases, and I get that because I don't like to take medicine needlessly either, but sometimes, it's the best thing. However, I just felt that Olivia was berating those who choose to go the medicinal route. I felt like she was implying that natural remedies work better than modern medicine. This can be dangerous especially if someone gets off their medicines they need to survive to try the natural approach. People should always discuss any changes of medication with their doctors.

To me, Don't Stop Believin' writes like someone who's always been privileged and sheltered throughout their life. A lot of it feels like Olivia Newton-John is out of touch with reality and like she's living in La-La Land. I just found it hard to relate to her throughout the book. Yes, she has gone through some hardships such as deaths in the family, her cancer diagnoses, and her ex-boyfriend disappearing, but for the most part, her autobiography is just too sunshine and rainbows for me to truly relate.

Don't Stop Believin' flows beautifully though, and the writing is done very well, so it has that going for it. I did find myself enjoying the book most of the time when Olivia wasn't been preachy or advertising something. There were some interesting tidbits about her life throughout the book.

Trigger warnings include some profanity use, death, cancer, drinking, and smoking.

Overall, Don't Stop Believin' isn't a bad book, quite the contrary. It's just a bit too hippie dippy for me to have truly enjoyed it to its fullest. I did find the book interesting though despite some flaws. I would recommend Don't Stop Believin' by Olivia Newton-John especially to those who have been diagnosed with cancer as this book does come with a bunch of positivity when it comes to dealing with cancer.

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