Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson

Lately I've been on a "lighthearted memoirs" kick - I read Sliding into Home back to back with Tina Fey's Bossypants and Betty White's If You Ask Me. Let me be clear that these types of books are not my favorite kind to read, yet I feel that I can at least appreciate a well-told story enough to review them in kind.


One of my girl friends from college introduced to me to The Girls Next Door in what I think was its second season (if I'm remembering correctly). My first reaction to her saying, "You've got to watch this show, it's about Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends and their live at the Playboy Mansion" was along the lines of "Oh yeah, this is going to be a train wreck." I've never been one for reality TV and while I don't have a problem with the idea of women posing nude for magazines (or whatever) I've never been fond of the "perfect" bodies and faces of the girls featured in Playboy's publications.

But anyway, I digress. My friend insisted that I sit down and watch a couple of episodes with her (they were airing some re-runs before a new one, I think) and I was pretty much immediately hooked. Listen, I had no delusions about this show really portraying all sides of life in the Playboy mansion and of being one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends...but I have to be honest, E! struck gold with Holly, Bridget, and Kendra and the way they portrayed those girls.

And honestly, while watching the show Kendra was my least favorite. I was about 23 at the time, so maybe it's simply that I "got" Holly and Bridget - the older of the three girls - more than I "got" Kendra....though to be honest I think it was mostly the way E! portrayed her, as being this sporty party girl who didn't tend to get along with other women and was ditzy and immature. (Basically the exact type of woman I would never be friends with, versus Holly who was ambitious and really seemed to care about Hef to the point of wanting a future with him, and Bridget, who was into animal rights, had an education, and was interesting in continuing to further that education.)

Well, there I go again with the digressing. Sorry ;) Point being, it wasn't until TGND ended and I watched the first season of Kendra on Top that I forced myself to understand that there was clearly more to Kendra than TGND had let on. Again...deep down I always knew that, TGND being a reality show, it was still probably pushing a certain agenda - and that none of the three girls was likely as one-dimensional as the show made them seem.

Still, I didn't dive into this book with great expectations for it. To be honest, the first thing I noticed was that despite having a ghost writer, you can really picture Kendra writing it. Some reviewers have noted this as a bad thing, yet I didn't feel that Sliding into Home was full of grammatical errors or any of that nonsense. It was simply written in a very informal manner - almost like each chapter was a really long blog entry, in fact. And I think that Kendra having a ghost writer who overshadowed her personality would have been more of a detriment to her story and her person than anything else.

I think it's important to remember that while most people would likely hope to read a book like this and see a lot of introspection, that's probably not going to happen. Yeah, sure, sometimes it does, but I just don't think that's the norm - because let's be real, most people aren't like that. We all may be willing and able to admit that we were wrong in regards to certain decisions, but it's hard to do, and it will never be as much as what others want or even outright expect from us.

All that said, while a lot of the first third or so of Sliding into Home is repetitive, it's repetitive because Kendra admits over and over again that she was being stupid, that she was making bad decisions, and that there really weren't any "good" reasons for her to do so. As the book progresses she makes more excuses for her behavior than most of us - including me - would like to see, but I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to write the story of her early years and to be honest about the bad things she did and bad decisions that she made, and at some point she had to stop bashing herself.

While there were some things about her time at the mansion that were likely glossed over (her side of the story in regards to the relationships she had with Holly and Bridget, especially at the beginning), I personally thought that her honesty in terms of her relationship with Hef was refreshing. It may not be what everyone wants to hear, and some of it may seem (or outright be) a bit hypocritical - in terms of her not doing any of it for the money, despite being basically disgusted at the weekly "orgies" in his room and having to have sex with him period - I didn't feel that Kendra lied about any of that, but maybe rather is torn in regards to her own feelings on the matter. And that's okay, because it's only human.

I would say that the thing that bothered me the most about the last third of the book - that dealing with her last months at the mansion, meeting Hank, having a secret relationship with him behind Hef's back, coming [somewhat] clean about it to Hef, and then diving into a "life" with Hank - was the fact that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but claims that she didn't want to be honest from the get go "for the good of the show and Playboy's reputation". Well...if that was really the case, writing the whole truth about it, or at least most of the truth, pretty much in and of itself undoes all of her reasoning. And yeah, the bit about her constantly flashing her boobs to the cameras despite knowing how much it upset Hank, especially as she admits that she knows she didn't have to keep doing that, doesn't help things either.

All in all, as books go this was at the very least a pretty entertaining, quick, and easy read. Personally I hope that in telling her tale, Kendra learned a few things about herself and will use that knowledge to continue to grow as a person, to be a good wife and a good mother. 3.5/5 stars. Pin It

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