My enormous thanks to Jay Blades’ assistant Jo for sending me a copy of Jay’s autobiography, Making It, in return for an honest review. I was thrilled to receive it in advance of interviewing Jay for my local Deepings Literary Festival Easter offer. It was wonderful to speak with Jay directly and although Jay and I didn’t discuss Making It too much for fear of spoiling the read for others, we all felt we had come to know Jay Blades the man, rather than Jay Blades TV presenter by the end of the evening because he was so generous in his responses to my questions.
Today I’m delighted to share my review of Making It.
Making It will be published by Pan Macmillan imprint Bluebird on 13th May 2021 and is available for pre-order through the publisher links here.
‘We had our hardships, and there were times that we didn’t have a lot of food and didn’t have a lot of money. But that didn’t stop me having the time of my life.’
Making It is an inspirational memoir about beating the odds and turning things around even when it all seems hopeless. In this book, Jay shares the details of his life, from his childhood growing up sheltered and innocent on a council estate in Hackney, to his adolescence when he was introduced to violent racism at secondary school, to being brutalized by police as a teen, to finally becoming a beloved star of the hit primetime show The Repair Shop.
Jay reflects on strength, weakness and what it means to be a man. He questions the boundaries society places on male vulnerability and how letting himself be nurtured helped him flourish into the person he is today. An expert at giving a second life to cherished items, he speaks about how his role as a restorer mirrors his own life – if something’s broken, you can always find a way to put it back together.
My Review of Making It
The autobiography of popular television presenter Jay Blades.
Although some of the aspects covered in Making It like the author’s dyslexia, have been alluded to, or even well documented, in recent times, Making It is a wonderful, detailed insight into the life and personality of Jay Blades.
I loved the honest, conversational style achieved with ghost writer Ian Gittins. What impressed me most was that Jay Blades doesn’t spare himself from an intense, unforgiving spotlight that sometimes belies the jovial cheeky chap we know from his television programmes. There are passages in Making It that are violent, brutal and very frequently accompanied by surprising expletives that, far from alienating the reader, draw them in and have the effect of making them love, admire and respect Jay Blades all the more. He has made mistakes, some of them quite appalling, and yet he comes across as the kind of man you’d want in your life. Even though I know the author is now a successful celebrity, I frequently felt tense as I read, wondering how he was going to overcome the latest obstacle life was throwing his way.
The themes and topics of the fifty years of Jay Blades’ life covered in Making It are sadly all too familiar in today’s society. The author deals with family and relationships of all kinds, including absentees fathers; with drugs and racism, violence and education, homelessness and the need to belong, with convincing and frequently emotional and touching clarity. But as Jay Blades says in his introduction, this is by no means a self pitying book. The more the reader reads, the more they comprehend what it means to be a warm, intelligent, black man simply trying to do his best. My heart went out to the author, particularly because of his dyslexia, and his work with the disadvantaged and displaced made me respect him completely.
However, aside from being entertaining, interesting and engaging, I think Making It is an important book. Through his own, very personal experiences, Jay Blades gives permission for readers, especially men, to show and accept their vulnerability without embarrassment. He gives hope to all that, rather like the items that feature in the television programme The Repair Shop, for which he is most well known, there is always the possibility to create something new and beautiful from something – or someone – broken or damaged.
I finished reading Making It feeling as if I had been on quite a journey with Jay Blades, that I had been given a privileged insight into a life and world that I would never otherwise have known and that I had been given the gift of something uplifting and positive. I thoroughly, thoroughly, enjoyed every word.
About Jay Blades
Originally from Hackney, Jay is dyslexic and after leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications, he eventually managed to get back on track studying for a degree in criminology and philosophy at Buckingham University before finding his true vocation in restoration.
Jay is an inspirational motivator and was the former co-founder of award-winning social enterprises Out of The Dark and Street of Dreams. Working with disengaged and disadvantaged young people, Jay was able to mentor and support thousands of individuals over the years to realize their full potential.