Friday, February 12, 2016

I Said Yes - Emily Maynard Johnson

I Said Yes
Title: I Said Yes: My Story of Heartbreak, Redemption, and True Love
Author: Emily Maynard Johnson
Publication Date: 3/1/16
Pages: 240
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I'm a fan
Date Completed: 2/1/16

Summary: Emily Maynard found her way into Bachelor-viewing hearts as a contestant on The Bachelor and again when she starred as The Bachelorette. Though her reality tv relationships did not work out (what?!), she is now happily married and has written this memoir, reflecting on her time on the franchise and what God has taught her over the years.

What I Thought: I have been a fan of Emily's since she got out of the limo on Brad Womack's second season as the Bachelor. It is easy to understand how her sweet, unassuming, southern charm captures not only the hearts of viewers but also Womack's. She continually kept it classy on a show that encourages dramatics. Her tragic backstory as a single mom did not hurt her likability (ah, the cynical realities of reality television). After things fell apart with Womack, and it didn't take long, Maynard won hearts again as the Bachelorette. Viewers saw more of her personality and values and loved her more. Tabloids, however, were particularly harsh as her second show-based engagement ended not long after her season aired. Since then, however, she has married and had a new baby with Tyler Johnson, a man she met at church, far from the eyes of reality tv viewers.

I've avidly followed Emily's story since her early Bachelor days. I was thrilled when she was the Bachelorette (although now I realize accepting that gig was not the best personal decision she ever made). I was even more thrilled when she found Tyler and seems so happily settled with him and their little family. When my sister moved to Charlotte (where the Johnson family lives) last year, I charged her with the task of meeting Emily so we could all become best friends - in a totally normal, not creepy way, of course. We're still working on that....

At the start of 2016, Emily announced this, her upcoming memoir, and I was so excited. I shot off an email to her publisher to see if I could get an advance copy to read and review. I've actually never done this before; any advance copies of books I have previously received have been a part of a blog tour or something for which I was approached. Thankfully, her published got right back to me and had a galley to me within days! Thanks again for that!

I read the book within a few days. It's an easy read and an enjoyable one, particularly when you know Emily's background. The writing style is simple and straightforward; this is no Pulitzer Prize winner, but the voice is honest and earnest. 

Last year, when I read Sean Lowe's memoir, For the Right Reasons, I said it was "as squeaky clean as a book about the Bachelor process could be." I stand corrected. Despite the tabloid gauntlet she ran a few times, Emily steers entirely clear of anything remotely scandalous. She does not offer details about why her two engagements went south. This, though a bit disappointing to readers who want to be in the know, I found to be incredibly respectful and thoughtful considering she's newly married to someone not associated with her time on the show. She's exceedingly polite. This book is clearly not about the dirt of that time in her life; it's about her emotional and spiritual journey through it. 

It's nice to see Emily getting a chance to say her piece. Here she is, unfettered by ABC contracts or editing. She owns up to her past mistakes; the theme of the book is her propensity to say yes to the wrong things and relationships instead of to God. I would have loved to see more about her current life and how things are going and what she is learning these days now that the spotlight has shifted away. The book was clearly finished before she welcome baby boy Jennings, although she does mention him in the acknowledgements. It would be interesting to know more, but I completely understand her desire for a level of privacy at this point.

It's delightful as a fan to see Emily has found true happiness, first in her faith and second in love and family life. She is one of few from the franchise who I have genuinely admired and wanted to see succeed personally. I wish her and her family the best and am thankful for the chance to have this small peek into her life and experiences. Of course, Emily, if you're reading this, there are two newly minted North Carolina girls who would love to take you to coffee and chat about family and faith and fashion in person. You know...if you're interested. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely, but I plan on loaning it out to my sister and girlfriends

A Reduced Review: Emily's memoir is as she is: sweet, sincere, and a little bit sassy. While some may be looking for more of a scoop, her intent is clearly to share lessons learned not behind-the-scenes gossip.

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