Book Review: Air Kiss & Tell, Charlotte Dawson with Jo Thornely

| 2 October , 2012 | Reply

I love a good media memoir, and so was extremely eager to give “Air Kiss & Tell” a read. The fact that I knew little about Charlotte Dawson didn’t matter; I’d met her once while on work experience and had followed stories of her encounters with twitter trolls. I was sure that by the time I finished the memoir I would be an expert on all aspects of her life.

Charlotte breaks down all barriers in her second memoir, baring her soul to her readers. She details her battles with anxiety, depression, alcoholism, the termination of a pregnancy, and failed relationships with complete honesty and shows us how she was able to fight her demons and come out on top. Her openness in detailing her suicide attempts and all time lows allow us to see that the glossy life she details in her opening chapter doesn’t exempt her from the same pain felt by us “regular folk.” At one point she remarks about the importance of remembering that celebrities are people with normal family and friends who can hurt too, and that’s one of the most important messages we should take away from her story.

The harshness of her experiences in New Zealand was shocking to read, although it can be said that she didn’t help matters by stooping to their level with some of her own nastiness shining through, a prime example being the pages dedicated to “Rat Woman,” that made me feel a bit icky when I read it. Charlotte is an anti-bullying ambassador, so that type of writing goes against what she is supposed to be representing, but she does have her own experiences of being bullied that she brings to the table that we can learn from.

One of the aspects of the memoir I found most interesting was her career journey. As a mag-addict and aspiring journalist (who was entirely unaware Charlotte had ever worked in magazines), the stories of her life working for both Women’s Day and New Idea were fascinating. The media industry has certainly changed a lot from those good old days where you could literally just fall into a high positioned role!

Air Kiss & Tell is co-written with Charlotte’s close friend Jo Thornely, and is extremely well written. The stories flow with the perfect mix of humour and emotion, and you get an amazing insight into what Charlotte was feeling at each stage of her journey. I found at times Charlotte could come across as having an inflated sense of self, with name dropping a common occurrence, but as she says, “it’s my bloody book,” and she’s entitled to do what she likes with it and it’s the reality of her life if we’re honest here.

It’s a quick read, and a very interesting insight into one of our most infamous media personalities.

Air Kiss & Tell, while sometimes living up to it’s subtitle of “memoirs of a blow up doll,” teaches us the importance of resilience and how with the right mix of friendship, family, and determination, everything can be overcome.

Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$29.99


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