2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 39 books.

Friday, May 27, 2011

REVIEW for American Outlaw

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me this book to read and review.

TITLE:              American Outlaw

AUTHOR:         Jesse James

GENRE:           Memoir

RATING:         3 Stars

Okay, in full disclosure mode,  I have to admit that I have always had a "thing" for bad boy Jesse James.  I use to have an ex boyfriend who watched Monster Garage regularly and I often would sit down with him and secretly drool over James - although I could not care less about what he was working on in that garage.

Of course, the fact that I drooled over James should have been the first big tip off to me - I have a way of zeroing on the guys who are "broken" and who will, eventually, either brake my heart OR make me run the other way as fast as I possibly can, all the while screaming hysterically and apparently, so does Sandra Bullock.

While I did know James from Monster Garage, he really took center stage and became a household name thanks to the debacle he created with his cheating on Sandra Bullock.  Having myself lived through a similar experience, around the same time, I knew EXACTLY how Bullock felt, although, thankfully, my stupid mistakes were made in private.

Nonetheless, I decided to read this memoir, hoping to gain a better understanding of the situation and of this man in general.  Perhaps there was some basic truth that I was missing?

James opens up about his boyhood, but it is when he gets into his teens that you really start to see his personality develop - through a variety of  what I call "way too easy" situations, which seem to give Jesse a boost of confidence, but also seemed to send him the wrong messages about life and women in particular.

One of the themes that is repeated in this book is that James often felt as though he lacked self confidence and in order to compensate for this, he went too far over the other way.  All I could think about when I read about his earlier life was how screwed up he was going to be in the future.

Of course, the memoir does start getting more engaging when he meets Sandra Bullock and interestingly, while James does take responsibility for the affair (duh!!!!) and the fact that he should have been more open and honest with Bullock about his feelings before cheating, he also manages to squeeze in there the fact that he questions Bullock's own reasons for dating/marrying him in the first place (a question I am sure Bullock has asked herself a hundred times).

However, this simple question made me  mad - because frankly, if you are going to write a memoir, then you need to write it about YOU - not about the other person, especially since, in this case, James turned around and pretty well bounced off Bullock right into another relationship.  So, really, did he "get" any life lesson in all of this?   While James admits to going into rehab (sex addiction anyone?) he doesn't spend much time talking about it.  It felt, to me, as though he was simply going through the motions.

I have mixed feelings about this memoir.  I always admire someone who has the courage to stand up and write (examine) their own lives, as well as their choices and, for this, James should be commended.  You can also see how he strives to be honest about his emotions and his thought processes throughout the book, but, at the same time, very much like James himself, I always felt as though he holds back a good chunk of himself.  You can clearly see this when he is interviewed on TV and it makes me wonder if we are getting the whole story.  Again, if you are going to write a memoir, then you need to tell the WHOLE story.

On the other hand, I don't know if James is "in tune" enough with himself to even know where to find the entire truth.  It takes a lot of courage and willpower to dig deep, deep inside and its not for the faint of heart.

Finally, I can't help feeling sorry for James.  From the get go, you can see how he sets himself up - from the first second he meets Bullock up until he "falls in love with her", I felt some indecision and alot of fear, it was actually difficult to read about it.

I once asked my best friend why men cheat and her immediate answer "because they can".  In this case, I think it pretty much says it all.

American Outlaw is actually an interesting forray into the world (and the mind) of a man who seems programmed to self-destruct.

The good news, I no longer have a "thing" for bad boy Jesse James. I am so over it.


Wall-to-wall books said...

I too used to love Jesse James! I thought that it was so great that beautiful Sandra could and would marry someone like him. Then the floor fell out from her feet!
I love Sandra, she is my favorite actress of all times!!! So, needless to say I now hate Jesse James!

Great review. Thanks for the honesty.

cindysloveofbooks said...

Great Review Tina.

I agree if you are going to write a memoir it has to be about you and being completely honest with yourself.

bermudaonion said...

I do love memoirs, but I'm not sure this is the one for me.

Donna said...

What a great review, Tina!

I never heard of this guy before hearing that he married Sandra Bullock and then I wondered what she saw in him. He must have some charisma that I can't fathom.

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