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Book Review: Britney Spears: Little Girl Lost by Christopher Heard

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At 28, Britney Spears has already led an incredible life. Does anyone even remember that little pop singer that appeared way back in 1999 with "…Baby One More Time?" The video was one of the most inventive of the era, and it looked as if she had a long future ahead of her. Of course, the life-cycle of a teen-pop sensation is about as brief as that of a hummingbird. But one sensed something different about Britney. At least Madonna did — she took to wearing "Britney Spears" T-shirts onstage for a while.

The fall from grace was as tragic as it was dramatic. It was also front-page news, helping to usher in the ridiculous "celeb-utainment" era we now are inundated with. So the question is, with seemingly everyone on the planet tuned into her life, what could a new Britney Spears biography possibly have to offer?

Britney Spears: Little Girl Lost by Christopher Heard gets around this problem by focusing to a large degree on Britney's pre-fame years. This is a welcome change of pace for me, as it puts her downfall into stark context.

Despite all the fire her parents came under later, they really were there to help her out in every way as a young girl. The picture Heard paints of a poor family allocating their meager resources to help their daughter achieve her dream may sound a little over the top, but it seems to be essentially true. The facts speak for themselves. Father Jamie Spears was a construction worker in a pretty poor area at the time, and did not get a lot of work. Mother Lynne Spears had baby Jamie Lynne to raise in addition to helping Britney.

The idea that this was a family who were banking on Britney's future success seems a little silly to be honest. The chances of her hitting jackpot the way she did may have been better than most, thanks to her undeniable talent, but they were in no way assured.

Despite the appearance of being balanced, though, Little Girl Lost does have its share of juicy gossip. After all, who would buy a Britney Spears book that did not? Before the shaved head incident, and two marriages, the big question was about her virginity. Because of their teen audience, both Britney and former flame Justin Timberlake always told the press that they were chaste. Image is everything, after all.

Britney's first "serious" boyfriend Reg Jones later asserted that she was just shy of her fifteenth birthday when they first slept together. She has not confirmed this, and it could just be a case of sour grapes on Reg's part. He was forced to sit by helplessly as their relationship crumbled, in direct contrast to the upswing of her career.

The quickie Vegas marriage to old friend Jason Alexander (no, not George Costanza), is discussed as well. Heard's assertion that it was an act of defiance has a strong ring of truth to it. The Kevin Federline situation seems far more complex. Again Heard finds something of a plausible reason for the whole thing, in that Britney felt completely trapped by her unprecedented fame, and wanted a home and family. It certainly sounds reasonable to me.

The head-shaving, and nights out with Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan do seem to be a reaction to the end of that relationship. Even though Britney filed for divorce, Heard speculates that it was actually at her mother's insistence, as a way to get his attention. K-FedEx did not respond the way she had hoped he would though — in fact he retaliated by petitioning the court for custody.

Following a few more public spectacles, Britney went into rehab, and has seemingly quieted her chaotic life down these days. Britney Spears: Little Girl Lost ends on a positive note, with the caveat that only Britney knows what will happen next.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The tabloid-fed image of her life has always been a bit of an overblown cartoon, and Little Girl Lost puts things into context. I guess you could call this the "thinking person's" gossip book."

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