When Van Halen opened for the Rolling Stones at Orlando's Tangerine Bowl in 1981, I was front row center. During Van Halen's encore, Valerie Bertinelli discreetly walked on stage behind them and snapped a picture with a tiny Instamatic. Nobody seemed to recognize her but me. Later the back cover of the album "Diver Down," that photo not only became my early claim to fame, but also gave me a moment-in-time memory of seeing a celebrity who clearly didn't want to be seen. I'd always wondered why.
Apparently, she thought she was fat.
Constructed as a series of short chapters, this autobiography is an easy, interesting read. It comes off like a classy tabloid, with lots of details but little trash. You learn all about Bertinelli's experiences with sex, drugs and rock and roll, but she's never mean-spirited and always disses herself as much as others. Weight plays a role throughout, but only one chapter deals with her Jenny Craig experience. The book has 33 black and white photos, including a few from the Van Halen wedding.
I read this the same day I read Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction. What a contrast! Both are true stories with a lot about drugs, yet at the end of Beautiful Boy you feel exhausted, while here you're thinking "Yes! Go Valerie, go!"
Here is the chapter list:
1. THE VISION. An encounter with Eddie during the band's recent reunion tour.
2. TINY DANCER. Early childhood, celebrating good times with food.
3. DAYDREAM BELIEVER. Middle school's "big Italian child-bearing hips."
4. YOU'VE GOT THE PART. Bertinelli breaks into show business at age 14.
5. TUMBLEWEED CONNECTIONS. The first season of "One Day at a Time."
6. BLUE-JEAN BABY. An unpleasant sexual initiation; diet pills.
7. LOVE WALKS IN. An adult boyfriend causes tension.
8. LOVE LIES BLEEDING. Bertinelli deals with her problems by eating.
9. DOIN' TIME. She dates Steven Spielberg and discovers Van Halen.
10. FEELS SO GOOD. She meets Eddie and joins him on tour.
11. RUNNIN' WITH THE DEVIL. The couple move in together and get married.
12. FAIR WARNING. Bertinelli joins the band on its 1981 tour.
13. AFTERSHOCK. "One Day at a Time" gets cancelled; Van Halen peaks.
14. SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN THE PARK. Marital, pregnancy and weight troubles.
15. AIN'T TALKIN' `BOUT LOVE. Cocaine and separation.
16. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. Eddie and Valerie get back together; she gets pregnant.
17. AND THE CRADLE WILL ROCK. A baby boy: Wolfgang.
18. HEAR ABOUT IT LATER. More marital blues; Bertinelli turns down a chance to be on "Friends" because "I felt too fat to stand next to Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow."
19. YOU STILL NEED WORK. Back again with Eddie. "You look good," he tells her. "You still need to work on your ---. But you look great."
20. FINISH WHAT YA STARTED. Reconnecting with MacKenzie Phillips.
21. HOUSE OF PAIN. Eddie gets cancer, Valerie gets up to 158.
22. WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD TIMES GONE? Sept. 11; Eddie cokes up again.
23. BLACK AND BLUE. Divorce.
24. GOING SOLO. It's hard to be hot at 170 pounds.
25. IT'S ABOUT TIME. Bertinelli dabbles in Judaism, Wolfie joins Van Halen on tour.
26. FEEL YOUR WAY TONIGHT. A new beau.
27. I'M FAT. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
28. LOSING IT. The Jenny Craig experience.
29. REGAINING MY LIFE. How Bertinelli maintains her weight and keeps her life on track.
(Update 5/1/08: See all those comments below? Most have to do with the above chapter list. I included it because I thought it would be helpful, however some folks hate the idea. I'd love to know your opinion.)
on March 6, 2008
This biography is not just for gals or fans of celebrities. The author is honest & reveals her life in twenty nine brief chapters. There really could have been fewer chapter titles since the contents tended to overlap. Nonetheless, it works well. She is poignantly honest about her experiences, mistakes, weaknesses, fears & insecurities. But, she does so without the often heavy celebrity egomania. She actually comes across as very ordinary & kind.
For she does not attack those who were rather unpleasant to her, very refreshing. Her story is not just her battle with becoming overweight. The drains of marrying to young, a drug addicted rockstar husband, the pressures of staying in showbiz, adultery, & her own food to drug, & back to food addictions are all here. Her writing is self-critical, descriptive, concise & clear. She dispalys how she has learned from her past & shows both stabile emotions & good humor.
The most crucial chapters were: 2-Tiny Dancer," how food became her comfort. 4-"You've Got The Part," her first job in showbiz. 8-"Love Lies Bleeding," how food became her drug of choice. 11-Runnin With The Devil," her early relationship with Eddie Van Halen & how quickly they got married. 13-"Aftershock," One Day At A Time gets cancelled & her depression begins. 16-"And The Cradle Will Rock," how her sons birth brought temporary stability to her family life. 17-"House Of Pain," problems with her husbands addictions leads to her gaining weight more than ever before. 19-"Black & Blue," covers the story of her divorce. 22-"Feel Your Way Tonight," how life became far happier when she meets a compatible man. 29-"Regaining My Life," how she maintains her new found weight loss via Jenny Craig & stabilized her life. This was an authentic & fast read for anyone who likes a celebrity who is grounded in reality.
Transforming your body from weight loss usually means you shed the old skin too. And Valerie Bertinelli has come clean with her personal life. Unlike the public perception of her hard-core, druggie, alky, but "hell-of-a musician" husband, Eddie Van Halen, she held on to the image of a sweetheart, a Hollywood beauty, and showing us that she could handle the rock star marriage so many said was going to fail.
And here, she invites the reader into her life, the reality of it. Readers will connect with so much here, it's just that we normal folk, don't have that persona to keep up.
And what better way to connect with readers than to share "weight loss battles." For the demise of the marriage, she blames so much on stupidity of youth. Oh how we can agree with that. Stupidity is contagious. Drugs, sex & rock & roll rarely make a good marriage, and I like a quote she gave about limited time with Eddie that if you are both drugged, drunk, etc...you are there, but not there.
Bertinelli is honest with herself and she also reveals insecurities, fears, especially the fear of being fat. My opinion, that celebrities prefer the stigma of being a druggie rather than being fat. This book is not only about the weight loss, but the battle spreads into all aspects of our life.
And as far as the cheating goes...we are really not surprised, even if it wasn't well-known that SHE cheated. When you tie in the rigors of motherhood, rockstar druggie hubby, cocaine lifestyle and pressure to stay in the business, food addiction will most likely be there, or exchanged with another addiction.
The writing is clear, concise, and with descriptions that allow the reader to feel, see and connect with Bertinelli's inner-self, the one behind the camera. She has shed some old skin, engages in meaningful insight, learned from the past, is humorous and emotional. She came a long way, it just took ........one day at a time.
I admit I may be biased since I have loved Valerie since I was a kid.. she is two years older then I am but I remember thinking she was the most beautiful girl I had seen growing up , I would copy her clothing styles on the show and hairstyles (though I am blonde and blue eyed.. LOL). As an adult I admit if her name was in the credits I would watch it.. any made for TV movie or series I was there. Still am.
Her particular brand of charm works because she comes accross as likeable and approachable. The woman you could laugh with, shop with and just hang out.. she is REAL .. her book is no exception.. I can relete to SOOOoo many of the things she went through including the weight issues and food obsessions and addictings, but the book is soo much more.
AS I think most women can. She has ups and downs and is willing to share with the rest of us,, the books is a wonderful read by a wonderful star who is still one of the most gorgeous women outside I have ever seen and now she proves she is the same on the inside.. Get it.. you won't regret it.
on February 26, 2008
I have really enjoyed reading this book. It is about her extraordinary highs and devasting lows in life and also a relatable account of her battle with her weight. It's honest and at times very raw and very real. Losing it is more than just her weight; it's about losing the shame and all of the bad stuff that she kept telling herself and losing those voices in her head (self esteem issues).
She talks very openly about relationships that she had. At 19 she dated Steven Speilberg (I don't think I remembered that), and of course her marriage to Eddie Van Halen with their infidelities. Four years into their marriage, she cheated and she talks about his affairs and how after 20 years she wanted a different life for herself. She'd tried to take control of her weight all the years, but it was only when Jenny Craig called that she really got control again of her weight and became successful at it.
I personally found this interesting because I grew up watching One Day At A Time and also like a lot of women, have battles with weight and food. Due to those reasons, you don't necessarily need to be a fan of Valerie's in order to enjoy this read and relate to her struggles and life. It's very interesting and real and I highly recommend it. I really loved it.
I have been a fan of Valerie Bertinelli since her very fist day as Barbara Cooper on ONE DAY. I was really excited about this book and reading behind the scene stories about one of my favorite shows growing up as a teenager - other than the occassional mention of Mackenzie Phillips and her troubled time, a hug of support from Bonnie Franklin or a private laugh due to a joke told by Pat Harrington, there wasn't much said about her days playing Barbara Cooper, which took up almost an entire decade of her then, young life!! I wasn't looking for gossip. I wanted to know what it was like growing up in front of millions of people, playing a lead role on one of Tvs top rated shows. What was it like to be known as the "good girl" while your troubled co-star kept running into trouble? How did you get along with Bonnie Franklin and how did she help you become the young woman you became? What kind of influenece did Bonnie and Pat have on you, and did your parents approve?
So many things were touched upon, but that was it - they were skimmed over and barely disucssed. Almost every chapter (nearly every page, for that matter) talked about how angry & troubled Eddie VanHalen was, how insecure Valerie felt and how she always used food to get thru the bad times. If the number of references to these three things were cut in half, perhaps there might have been more room to tell more stories (but then again, it might have been a shorter book!)
While I didn't necessarily feel like I had wasted my time reading the book, I just wish I had gotten more out of it. If you followed Valerie's career growing up and have seen her interviews on talk shows promoting this book, you know just about everything covered (that's the other thing - don't give out the juciest details of your book in an interview the day before your book's released - it left absolutely NO surprises and nothing I read shocked me!)
If you're a fan, I recommend it - If you're curious, read the reviews and watch her interview with Oprah. You'll get just as much info.
on June 20, 2011
I've always liked Valerie Bertinelli, partly because she seemed like a nice, down-to-earth Italian homegirl and partly because her looks - short, buxom body type - were a realistic and attractive ideal for a five-foot-four chubby/ busty build like me. (As a teen, I would have dearly loved to look like Val's much taller model-thin co-star Mackenzie Phillips, but I didn't have the genes, nor as it turned out, the cocaine addiction needed to pull that off.) The fact that Val married Eddie Van Halen, one of the most respected guitarists in rock, and stayed married for decades was even more awesome to me.
This book does confirm Valerie's "nice girl" image. She clearly loves her big family. While starring in "One Day" she even abided by a curfew and helped her dad paint the garage while Mackenzie was out painting the town. But it also shows the thinking pitfalls that "nice girls" too often fall into - blaming everything on themselves whether it's their own fault or not, repressing anger when marital conflicts arise, and engaging in some compulsive behavior to blow off steam. In Val's case, she compulsively ate followed by periods of intense dieting and exercising, resulting in a yo-yo weight problem that eventually affected her ability to get acting roles. After finally divorcing the main source of stress in her life, husband Eddie, she became a Jenny Craig spokesperson and developed better eating habits and ways of coping with stress that didn't involve overeating.
It's an all-too-familiar story and happens every day to all sorts of ordinary women who don't happen to be TV stars. The good side of that is, an ordinary woman reading the book can probably relate to many of Val's feelings. The bad side of that is, it's not that interesting to read, particularly since Val seems to lack insight or just avoid discussing certain areas. Most of the book is devoted to discussing the ups and downs of life with Eddie and how he upset her so much. What about the ups and downs of life with the rest of her family? She hints that the family had difficulty communicating about feelings, and that she had a troubled relationship with her mother, who read Valerie's teenage diary and told People magazine that Valerie needed to control her weight better. But Val never really explores whether her mother's or her family's expectations affected her own self-esteem or weight problem.
Another unanswered question is why Valerie, who meets a great guy post-Eddie and seems to be having a happy life despite being 170 lbs and size 14 (maybe too heavy for Hollywood, but hardly gasp-worthy obesity), still finds it so important to lose weight and be 125 lbs. again in her mid-40s. The nice guy she is with doesn't seem to mind her weight, and she could probably pursue a different non-public career, or maybe even just stay home with her son (who, by the way, is also pudgy - yet Valerie doesn't seem to think HE needs to lose any weight, and implies male/female double standards in several other areas too). It's not clear if she wants to continue to act, needs to continue to act in order to pay the bills, had an "offer she couldn't refuse" from Jenny Craig on the condition she lose weight, sees weight loss as a personal challenge, or what. The weight is definitely a big deal to her though - it's not just a matter of "I wanted to fix my thought patterns and eat more healthfully, and the weight loss followed." Saddest of all is that Val, while acknowledging the silliness of Hollywood types and tabloids flipping out when someone gains 10 pounds, seems to buy right into their attitude - an anachronism these days when plus-sized actresses are becoming more accepted and even recognized as sexy.
If you're looking for stories about "One Day at a Time" you won't find very much in this book - Mackenzie Phillips actually talked about the show more in her book, despite being on it for a much shorter time (and high a lot of the time when she was). There are some interesting Van Halen stories, and the tale of Val and Eddie's four-month courtship followed by a quick marriage at a very young age leaves you thinking that either they must have really been in love, or really afraid of confrontation, to have stayed together so long when they clearly didn't know each other very well at the start. (I wondered if Val's desire to get married at only 20 years old was inspired by her own mother's marriage at age 17, by discomfort with Hollywood sexual mores, or by a desire to put some distance between herself and her family - but Val doesn't discuss it at all.) Val, who has no experience with musicians pre-Eddie, turns out to be one of those annoying rock wives who doesn't understand that the guy is going to be married to the band much of the time and would rather spend three straight days in the studio than come out to eat dinner at the family table, or that he is probably going to cheat with a few women on the road - and Val herself goes on her own road trips for projects, cheats on Eddie occasionally, then gets mad when he doesn't drop everything and pay attention to her when she shows up at 11 pm. Although her portrayal of Eddie is reasonably kind and it's clear he did have an addiction problem that was hard to take, Val definitely comes off as a self-centered diva more than a few times.
In the end, I was happy that Val was able to face up to her problems and start taking steps to make her life better, but this book wasn't all that interesting to read. 80% of it is her beating up on herself for being fat, complaining about Eddie or describing all the locations she visited for movie projects (and how much she weighed for each one). The writing style is dull and it's mostly about Val's insecurities and anger, rather than sharing practical tips - I guess we're supposed to join Jenny Craig and pay them to get that. For all Eddie's problems, he came off as a much deeper and more interesting person than Val. I don't think I'll bother to read her second book.
on August 11, 2012
I hesitate to write a review at all because I don't want to waste anymore of my time, but hopefully this will save someone else from making the same mistake I did. If you're a fan of Valerie's like I was, you'll not be after reading this pathetic excuse of a book. She is shallow, misinformed, misguided, self-absorbed, unintelligent and has no class. She needs to come to grips with those issues and work on them as they are far more significant than what she weighs daily. Now THAT would be an interesting story. At the very least this book should have been about weight loss, as the title implies. This is a sordid tell-all that is disturbingly dedicated "For Wolfie". Really? Way more than any kid needs to know about either of his parents.
on November 28, 2011
Actually I was hoping this book would focus much more on Bertinelli's weight loss and give readers some kind of advice (even those who cannot afford Jenny Craig).
But there were no before and after photos, in the last few chapters Bertinelli mentions that she lost a lot of weight just by following the Jenny Craig diet and doing 10.000 steps per day.
Well, if she would have been more specific or helpful, I'm sure I would have rated this book more than only 1 star. To be honest, I felt cheated. I only ordered this obscure book from Doubleday Book Club, because their description sounded as if this is an inspiring book on how to achieve weight loss. It is not.
Definitely NOT a keeper.
Save your money and get the "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" DVD, that's a diet that really works.
on August 19, 2015
My childhood crush grew up to be a very likable woman who is not shy about revealing her past indiscretions and struggles with her weight. This is not an expose or tell all, but Valerie does open up enough to feel you know her better for having read her book. I found her tale of creeping weight gain and triumph over her weight to be inspiring and I did lose some weight after reading the book. This book is also not a diet book. This is a story of one woman's struggle with weight gain and how it affected her marriage and career, and what she did to take control of the situation. What was missing for me was Valerie eventually coming around to the realization that she is a world class beauty at any weight and likable enough to enjoy success at any weight. Throughout the book she counts herself lucky and/or blessed to have enjoyed continued success at the top of her weight gain. She never seems to understand this wasn't luck or divine intervention. She never credits her own talent or likability as a coworker, and at the end of the book still seems to view her weight as the measure of her worth. Still it's a great book by a lovely and talented actress. Well written and enjoyable to read.