A confessional, uplifting memoir from the beloved YouTube personality.
It’s not where you begin that matters.
It’s where you end up.
Twenty-three year old Joey Graceffa has captured the hearts of millions of teens and young adults through his playful, sweet, and inspirational YouTube presence (not to mention his sparkling eyes and perfect hair). Yet, Joey wasn’t always comfortable in his skin, and in this candid memoir, he thoughtfully looks back on his journey from pain to pride, self-doubt to self-acceptance.
To his fans, Joey is that best friend who always captures the brighter side of life but also isn’t afraid to get real. In the pages of his first book, he opens up about his years of struggling with family hardships and troubles at school, with cruel bullying and the sting of rejection. He tells of first loves and losses, embarrassing moments and surprising discoveries, loneliness, laughter, and life-changing forks in the road, showing us the incalculable value of finally finding and following your true passion in this world. Funny, warm-hearted, and inspiring, Joey Graceffa’s story is a welcome reminder that it’s not where you begin that matters, but where you end up.
After Binge (I wrote a review for that here), I went on a YouTuber autobiography marathon which got a bit out of hand. I actually only watched them for less than a year, but as a psychology major I couldn’t help but want to know more about a person who broadcast their day to day life. I know that no matter how many videos I watch of them, I would only understand them in a very surface level. To have a full picture of what the person is, a life narrative story is crucial. In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World did provide us with a full picture of Joey Graceffa, perhaps a little bit too full.
His autobiography was formatted to go chronologically. Which I soon found to be what I don’t like about autobiographies. When you start talking about your life from when you are born to present, you start including a lot of details from your 20+ years of life, and then it started to get boring. There is a clear downfall in terms of attitude during the transition from his childhood to his adulthood. It is funny how the tone he uses to describe his childhood which was full of adversity and hardship is full of positivity and love for his mother, then became passive-aggressive and negative when he describes his adulthood which was blessed with success and excitement.
The half about his childhood was actually pretty good, this is a trend I keep seeing in autobiographies (well, at least in the very few that I have read). Childhood is usually meaningful, concise, and bullshit-free. This may be due to the fact that you can’t remember much from your childhood except the parts that are important enough to remain in your memory for more than 20 years. This is also where you can see how the person became the person they are today.
However, that also present another problem. Some details from his childhood are obviously exaggerated or even close to being fictional. I feel like as he was trying to fill in the gaps of a time he can barely remember, he twisted his memory somehow.
Nonetheless, I am happy that Joey is open about issues such as dealing with an alcoholic parent, coming out and bully, while maintaining a somewhat positive attitude.
The other half of his adult life became a bit more believable but very boring. As I said before, as his memory increases, unnecessary details also increase. There may be what he considers key points in his life, but to a reader, I was just confused as to what impact did a car getting totted have on his life. Overall this half of the book feels like Joey is trying his best to fill up as many pages as possible with unnecessary details and gossips.
One thing I really didn’t like about the adult part of this book is how much complaining there is. Joey seems to be very unhappy about a lot of what I would call trivial things. He would complain about his friends, his dates, his teachers and so on. I understand that he would get frustrated about friends who were annoying and may have talked behind his back, I understand that sometimes teachers are unreasonable and didn’t let him express his creativity in a way he deem fit, I understand that it is awkward when your date won’t pay for the bill on the very first date. But write them in an autobiography which these people may read is quite petty and immature. Some mutual friends may read this book and recognise people from it, and that may ruin that person’s reputation for something that is actually really petty. I had a feeling that I was reading an adult man passive-aggressively gossiping like a teenage girl when I read about his adult life. If the people around him are what he described them to be, then I would be annoyed as well. But would you really publish it in your autobiography for everyone to see? Is a minor conflict with a friend or a date that didn’t go well really important enough to be a part of your life narrative?
The writingThe book was surprisingly well-written. However, it just doesn’t seem like Joey’s writing. In some cases, I can recognise the tone and style of a YouTuber just from their writing. This is true for YouTubers such as Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart and Shane Dawson. When I listened to their audiobooks, it felt like I was listening to their videos.
The book was surprisingly well-written. However, it just doesn’t seem like Joey’s writing. In some cases, I can recognise the tone and style of a YouTuber just from their writing. This is true for YouTubers such as Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart and Shane Dawson. When I listened to their audiobooks, it felt like I was listening to their videos.