Justine Ezarik has written a book. In writing this review, it became clear that I have 2 reviews to provide. The first being a proper review of her book as an insider and someone who has known Justine since 2001. The second, a funny realization that Justine’s story is mine in a lot of ways. Our story until about 4 years ago was pretty similar. Replace a few words and I feel like she’s reading my story. I’m not sure part 2 will be published but it was a nice book to read. Actually, I listened to her Audible book that she read herself. It was nice to hear the book from Justine’s own voice as it added a layer of realness to it.
The book is short (about 5.5 hours in audio form) and details Justine’s life from middle school to present day. Her life growing up as a geek in Pennsylvania and discovery of video games, computers, her creative side of building websites, making videos and the pursuit of this dream which led her to where she is now, an Internet celebrity living in Los Angeles.
Her story had to be told. This book has to be written.
3-4 years ago, I stopped watching Justine’s videos and reading her Tweets and following her. I may have sent her a few SMS messages but really I stopped being a follower. The reason wasn’t her lack of creativity or entertainment value. It’s the way the majority of her fans perceive her and follow her. One of her top videos, “I just want a cheeseburger” is only highly viewed because she’s wearing a thin strapped tank top showing cleavage. The comments reflect this. Her video game play videos contain this drama from “real gamers” who judge her for not being a nerd, for being a poser and jumping on the bandwagon of gaming videos. They call her a blonde bimbo, an idiot and other foul languages. She’s judged constantly by sexists who simply don’t know her.
As a digital hoarder I have everything on my NAS in the basement, 18 terabytes of data from when I got my first computer 17 years ago and I have about 5 gigabytes of Justine’s early work from 2001-2008. I don’t have stuff only she has produced. I have every Apple commercial up until 2010 and videos from all over the place. I went through and looked at a few of her original videos and pictures. She has always been a zany technophile that loves games and creating digital content with a unique and addictive style. Justine in 2001 is exactly as she is in 2015. I think she’s told me a few times to delete the stuff I’ve stored but, like my 3rd grade paper on what I did during summer vacation, I’ll never delete anything on my drives.
My point to this statement is that the online community that knew Justine 5 years ago or less doesn’t really understand her journey and evolution and approach to hard work while staying true to herself.
On the subject of her relationships, partnerships and life outside of the web (and how she brings those offline relationships online) was spot on. She spoke so much to the relationships made that we often didn’t see on camera. I wish more was said about Desiree and Karen and their time with Justine over the years. Daily Random Photo wasn’t spoken about enough and obviously, people on my level of friendship with Justine (outliers mostly) weren’t mentioned despite a few people I know who have helped Justine over the years that were written out but honestly, there just wasn’t enough time I guess to fit everything in, especially those of us who were in and out of her life at random.
File this one under “none of your business” but the biggest absence from Justine’s quarter-life memoir was her relationships with men. I wasn’t expecting anything but now that I’m writing this review, it’s something I’ve always wondered in passing. How’s her relationship with her parents and how is she balancing online versus offline relationships these days? I’ve always had a transparent style in putting my relationships online until just recently and Justine has kept most of that private. In fact, when her sisters became prominently featured in many of her videos, I wondered why the sudden change? She hid her family and boyfriends from the online profile for years and suddenly her sisters were in every video I saw.
It’s truly none of my business but would have been nice to see featured.
Overall, the book does a really great job. It told so many stories that I was aware of but many people weren’t. Maybe a little more scandal would have been nice because I’m certain there has been some more juicy parts of her life worth telling. It’s sort of why the quarter-life memoirs don’t work. By the time I’m 90, there’s more “tell-all” in my book then there would be in a book i wrote at age 30 because the people who would probably care about what I had to say would be long-gone or simply not care anymore. Justine wasn’t ready to tell some of the stories because she’s still very much in the industry, etc.
Don’t consider my review to be a critique. I enjoyed it very much. I’m very glad she wrote it now and it’s unfortunate that the haters and trolls who spend hours a month sending her hate mail took that same time to read this book and know more about the person behind the celebrity. Justine is a role model for a lot of people and a testament to the age of the Internet where hard work does pay off. You should buy a copy of her book and give it a read!