27 September 2011

Review: 'Belieber! Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber' by Cathleen Falsani

I don’t usually read non-fiction, but Belieber: Fame, Faith, and the Heart of Justin Biebercaught my eye because it is a biography and assessment of Justin Bieber, teenage superstar.  It will probably not cover a lot of information that fans of Justin Bieber don’t already know, as much of it is sourced from Justin’s own autobiography (Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever (100% Official)), the movie (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never), other interviews, his Facebook posts and his Tweets.  However, for those of us who don’t know every minute detail of the background and superstar life of this teen singing wonder, this book provides an interesting read with the added benefit of placing Justin’s upbringing and actions in a clear Christian context.  It also answers one of my questions – is this guy really a Christian?  (He is.  Bieber is quoted as saying “I’m a Christian.  I believe in God.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins… I have a relationship with him… and really, he’s the reason I’m here”.)

Although Falsani was not able to interview Justin Bieber personally, nor any member of his close team of supporters, she has researched him thoroughly, including reading each of his thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts.  Bieber is a true child of the age of social networking, and tweets several times a day, unless his mother has confiscated his phone and laptop for bad behaviour!.  Twitter and Facebook make it possible for his many fans to ‘know’ Justin in a way that was inconceivable a few short years ago. (It is testament to the power of social marketing that this book doesn’t solicit Amazon reviews or star ratings.  Instead, it asks you to ‘like’ the book so it is shared with all your Facebook friends.)

Belieber: Fame, Faith, and the Heart of Justin Bieberis written in a conversational style, making it an easy-to-read short book (which includes dozens of quotes from fans about why they like Justin, and a comprehensive bibliography).  A true Belieber will no doubt need a copy in order to complete their collection of Bieber-nalia.  Reading Belieber: Fame, Faith, and the Heart of Justin Biebermight start a non-Christian thinking about the ‘secret’ behind Bieber’s success (or they might just find it too preachy, with a whole chapter about how Justin’s mother gives God all the credit).  Falsani herself says that her hope is that the book with act as “a catalyst for conversations among adults and young people, pastors and their flocks, teachers and students, parents and children… about the things that matter most in life”.  

However, I think the book is really intended for the rest of us – parents and friends of Beliebers, in order to help us understand what all the fuss is about, and to find out whether Bieber is worthy of the adoration our tweens and teens give him.  Falsani portrays Justin Bieber as a Christian with a strong support network, but points out, “the only celebrity whose way of life we should worry about comparing ourselves to is Jesus”.  Reading Belieber: Fame, Faith, and the Heart of Justin Bieberhasn’t turned me into a Belieber, but I have a better understanding of the singer and his influence on our young people.

Thanks to Worthy Publishing and NetGalley for providing a review copy.

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