I Said Yes: My Story of Heartbreak, Redemption, and True Love, by Emily Maynard Johnson with A.J. Gregory
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
Reading a book like this about the reality television show experiences and eventual love match for the author, who I remember from her sweet and awkward season on the Bachelor which I watched with my mother some years ago, reminds me that it’s not such a fun thing to be part of the Bachelor franchise . Despite the fact that a great deal of the book consists of the author talking about her insecurities as a teenager, which included a couple of times being Baker Acted, her relationship with former NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, her depression after his death just before she found out she was pregnant with his daughter, who she then raised as a single mother while having two unsuccessful go-arounds in reality television romance, first on the Bachelor as the “winner” in Brad Womack’s second try and then as a Bachelorette shortly thereafter, before finding love with a local guy in North Carolina, with whom she has a son. The story is a touching one, told with a great deal of humor and a certain sassy spirit, as the author tells some, but not all, of her own mistakes with fornication during her difficult time as a young adult. She’s easy to root for, honest about her confusion, and the sort of person who wishes others well and who one wishes well.
Aside from this story, which is likely to gain a fair amount of popularity simply because it provides some dishing on reality television and because the author is one of the people on the show most known for having a Christian faith, there are a few elements of this book that are likely to stay in mind long after the book is read. This book has given me one good expression, for example, when the author talks about “going crosses” on people who make her upset, which apparently happened when she was on The Bachelorette when one of the men said that her daughter (who from all appearances is a lovely and adorable girl) was “baggage.” Single mothers can be expected to be particularly fierce about their children, and as the man in question had a single mother herself, he likely had to face her wrath when he was unceremoniously kicked off the show. If I were the sort of person who let my temper run free at times other than driving in rush-hour traffic, there are likely at least a few people I would be tempted to go crosses at myself, and so the expression is a good one. Given the author’s confession of ADD and her lack of education past high school, the co-author for this book deserves the author’s high praise: “A.J., despite making you want to pull your hair out on multiple occasions, thank you for making this process as easy as possible. You have such a true gift, and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for your future. Let’s get the babies together! (215)”
Reading a book like this is, on the one hand, a fairly breezy and lighthearted read compared to some of the books I read, but at the same time there is a certain sense of concern that one has upon reading it, most notably because the author demonstrates the emotional confusion and pressure that come from being a part of a television show that places people together in a hothouse environment and expects love to grow. Emily said yes when she did not really mean yes several times in this book—to being on the Bachelor, to engaging Brad Womack, to being a part of the Bachelorette, to engaging Jef at the end of that show, until finally she meant it when she accepted Tyler’s engagement. At this state, Emily was approaching the status of a runaway television bride. Even so, one cannot help but feel a great deal of compassion for a lovely woman, deeply timid and shy, highly anxious and prone to pessimistic worrying, who has a small social circle and a lot of insecurities, especially about her intellect and understanding. Such a woman deserves encouragement and opportunities to shine, rather than feeling pressured into doing what she later regrets. Let us hope her husband is the right kind of gentleman, and that those who are in her spot do not need the same level of embarrassment, especially in the public eye, before they find lasting love. The search for lasting love will likely bring this book a lot of readers, but I wonder how much of them will think about themselves and their own tortured journeys as a result of reading it.
 See, for example: