Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon – Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

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Allen & Unwin

November 2021

ISBN: 9781788705240

Publisher: Bonnier

Imprint: Nine Eight Book

RRP: $29.99

To be perfectly frank, I cannot say I’ve ever been a super fan of Britney, either as a person or an entertainer. I don’t mean I disliked her or dismissed her but she was just never high in my consciousness really, but as the turmoil and trauma of her life escalated, who could help but take note of this icon of modern pop culture and the bloody battle she has had. Anyone with this much gumption, determination and sheer guts gets my vote and so I requested to review this.

Like everyone else on the planet I had seen the shock headlines, the paparazzi photos and more but what really has been the story behind what is, essentially, an extraordinary modern life? I love this line from publishers A&U…

Part biography, part social history, Being Britney pieces together a collage of vignettes, stories, interviews, legends and fan experiences to construct a definitive portrait of the artist and her complex, far-reaching orbit..

..because it sums up exactly what this is. Dr Bickerdike has worked hard to provide readers with a comprehensive and balanced insight into the life of this pop princess who first started her career aged 11 in the All New Mickey Mouse Club and has clawed and fought her way through battle after battle, shockingly much of her struggle against her father ( do NOT get me started on that oxygen thief!). The culmination of the angst, the ups and downs, the conversatorship controversy that created shockwaves around the world and the successful outcome, with kudos incidentally to the massive @FreeBritney groundswell from loyal and devoted fans is the stuff of soap opera really.

This intrigued me so much (and made me so angry along the way – seriously I want to punch that father) that I read it snappily over a couple of nights. I don’t think this is an account simply for those who are interested in pop stars or music, I think this is a book that anyone who is into feminism, personal voice, mental health issues and resilience will relish and treasure.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this for my older secondary students – from around Year 9 upwards – although its intended audience is, I think, predominantly adult. I don’t think you would be disappointed – pick it up, give it a try and give Britney a virtual high-five for refusing to bow down to tyranny.

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