Britney Spears’ book ‘The Woman in Me’ is a survivor’s story: review

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Britney Spears’ book ‘The Woman in Me’ is a survivor’s story: review

When Britney Spears laid bare the “abusive” nature of her conservatorship in open court on June 23, 2021, the world listen

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When Britney Spears laid bare the “abusive” nature of her conservatorship in open court on June 23, 2021, the world listened with bated breath.

Spears had never before spoken at length about the legal restraints she’d been under for the past 13 years, and yet she delivered a harrowing 23-minute speech with the same tenacity that made her the greatest pop star since Madonna.

Her high-stakes testimony was candid, alarming and brave — but, little did fans know, she’d barely scratched the surface.

In her unfiltered new memoir, “The Woman in Me” (out Tuesday), Spears lets it all out, painting a portrait of a tortured but triumphant figure who is still finding her footing in a world she once dominated.

She details her father Jamie Spears’ sordid family history — his beloved mom fatally shot herself in a graveyard, and his dad was a ghastly abuser who had a penchant for sending his wives to mental institutions — in an attempt to make sense of his decades-long battle with alcoholism.

She also describes the turbulence that rocked her own parents’ marriage. When Britney and her siblings, Bryan Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears, were growing up, Big Jamie and Ms. Lynne Spears fought like hell over money and vices, to the point where the patriarch would storm off and go missing for hours on end.

Britney Spears reflects on her upbringing, music career, love life and conservatorship in her new memoir, “The Woman in Me.”
Gallery Books

Things finally started looking up for the Spears family once Britney made it big in the ’90s, but she had it far from easy in the public eye.

She recalls inappropriate questions following her wherever she went; “Star Search” host Ed McMahon asked about her love life when she competed on the talent show at just 10 years old, and numerous journalists prodded her about her virginity and breasts before she was even legal.

“I was a teenage girl from the South,” she writes. “I signed my name with a heart. I liked looking cute. Why did everyone treat me … like I was dangerous?”

The media’s fascination with Britney only intensified once she began dating Justin Timberlake, whom she met on “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” in 1993 before reconnecting while touring with his boy band, *NSYNC, in 1998.

Spears got her start on “The All New Mickey Mouse Club.”
She went on to become the biggest pop star of her generation.

During their high-profile three-year relationship, Britney became pregnant, but she reveals in one devastatingly gripping passage that she had an abortion because Timberlake “didn’t want to be a father” yet.

The “Oops!…I Did It Again” singer recounts her agony in arduous detail but doesn’t trash her ex — not even while detailing his repeated transgressions or text message breakup. Instead, she chooses to extend some grace to her first love. She acknowledges that she isn’t perfect either, admitting she, too, had cheated — as Timberlake infamously implied in his “Cry Me a River” music video 20-some years ago.

By her own account, a trio of successive crises caused Britney to spiral out of control in the mid-aughts: an undiagnosed bout of postpartum depression, her split from her second husband, Kevin Federline, and the death of her dear aunt Sandra Covington.

Spears reveals she had an abortion while dating Justin Timberlake.
Getty Images

In “The Woman Like Me,” the pop superstar shares her version of many fateful events in her life that have already been breathlessly covered by the tabloids, from her 55-hour marriage to her childhood friend Jason Alexander (“I was just honestly very drunk”) to partying with Paris Hilton (“It was never as wild as the press made it out to be”) to shaving her head (“A way of saying to the world: F–k you”).

But, as Britney notes, none of these regrettable blunders warranted a response as extreme as her dad marching into court on Feb. 1, 2008, and petitioning for a conservatorship, which is typically reserved for the elderly and incapacitated.

“The conservatorship was created supposedly because I was incapable of doing anything at all — feeding myself, spending my own money, being a mother, anything,” she grouses. “So why was it that a few weeks later, they had me shoot an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and then sent me on a grueling world tour?”

The book is dedicated to her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden.
Britney Spears/Instagram

The second half of the conversational book focuses primarily on Britney’s life under the infantilizing legal arrangement, and it’s eerie how many chapters mirror the lyrics to her early hits.

She recounts telling the judge presiding over her case that she “lied and told the whole world [she’s] OK,” just like the fictional celebrity she sings about in 2000’s “Lucky” who on the surface seems to have “nothing missing in her life” but “cries, cries, cries” herself to sleep every night.

Follow Page Six’s coverage of ‘The Woman in Me’

Britney also addresses the hate she’s gotten on social media as she navigates having her shackles removed, echoing her plea in 2001’s “Overprotected” to be able to “make mistakes [and] just learn” who she is without judgment.

But “The Woman in Me” is far from a sob story. If anything, it’s a survivor’s story, one that’s still being written even after its 288 pages come to an end. (Britney’s ongoing divorce from her third husband, Sam Asghari, commenced after her memoir went to print.)

Spears’ conservatorship ended in 2021.

The most poignant callback is the title itself, a line pulled from a verse in Britney’s transitional ballad “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.”

The track, which was featured in her 2002 movie “Crossroads,” is more relevant now than ever: “There is no need to protect me,” she sings. “It’s time that I learn to face up to this on my own.”

That shouldn’t be a big ask.