Justin Bieber, tween pop heartbreaker extraordinaire, is writing a memoir entitled Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story. Whether or not the “writing” will be done by the 16-year-old Bieb himself, this represents an important new addition to a time-honored genre — autobiographies “written” by kids who’ve been on this earth less than 20 years.
Of course, not everyone can produce a kiddie autobiography. It’s only celebrities, and most often of the sports variety, since these people tend to peak early, career-wise. And it’s rare that these books are actually written by the subject (sort of defeating the “auto” part of autobiography).
Bieber joins the ranks of figure skater Tara Lipinski (remember her?) whose memoir was “told to” Emily Costello at the age of 15; Drew Barrymore, whose story of early-onset drug and alcohol addiction was produced “with” one Todd Gold when she was 14; another Olympian (it’s kind of a trend), Michelle Kwan, whose figure-skating tome came out when she was 17; and that gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who at 13 became the U.S. national champion, and wrote a book shortly thereafter.
The kiddie-celeb autobiography is strange in that autobiographies, as a genre, represent a kind of finality. The general thinking behind an autobiography is (logically, at least), to commemorate/draw lessons from a life well- or excitingly or famously lived. A full life, you would think. But these young stars had barely finished puberty when they came out with theirs.
Of course, these things are churned out because they sell (we can only imagine how many hormonal teen girls will beg their parents to buy the Bieb’s book for them). Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story will most likely be an excellent cash cow, but its impact on Bieb’s career remains to be seen. After all, the kid’s voice has got to be changing any day now… First steps.