Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Have No Idea: A BlogHer Book Club Review

I know, you thought I would be updating you on my surgery and here I am posting a  book review.  That's the way it goes sometimes (like when you have a due date for a specific post... like this one here).  I will post as soon as I know anything new on when my surgery will be rescheduled.  Because I assume you are DYING TO KNOW.  For now, let's talk Books!

Also, while we are in italics, I will add that this is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club.  Although I make tons and tons (not really much at all) of money for doing these reviews, my opinions (as always) are completely my own. 

Vanessa Williams and her mother, Helen Williams, co-wrote the book You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other), and I have to say, it has been my first BlogHer Book Club disappointment in a long time.  I am not sure what I was expecting from the memoir of Vanessa Williams, but this book was a struggle to read from start to finish.

My issue as I read through the life of Vanessa was that it seemed oddly ordinary.  I have not read many memoirs in my life, but the ones I have read have been about normal people who ended up leading amazing lives, and as authors, their ability to tell a story transforms that life into something I feel I am sharing with them as I turn the pages.  This book was about someone who was already famous, and who is clearly very talented as a singer, dancer and an actress.  But here's the thing, she isn't a great writer .  I didn't feel sorry for her when she discussed the scandal of the nude photos that cost her her Miss America crown.  I didn't believe her when she talked about how deeply she loved the men she married, and later divorced.  She didn't convince me to love them when she relived loving them, and hate them when she relived hating them.  And maybe that was my feelings on the entire book.  She couldn't talk me in to caring, and I think that is the key to a really good memoir.

As the book progressed,  I was much more interested in Vanessa's mother, Helen.  I thought the sections of her story, from her own past, were by far the best segments of the book and wish there had been more of that story included.  Even her take on Vanessa was more interesting to me than the sections written by her famous daughter.  As I read I continued to hope I would soon be to the next section by Helen. They were too few and too far between.

All that being said, the book isn't terrible.  I just read like one long People magazine article.  If you love celebrity memoirs, you might enjoy this one.  If you love Vanessa Williams, you too will most likely really like this. But since I do not love either, I would give this book a pass.

We will be discussing You Have No Idea over at BlogHer for the next several weeks.  Come join the conversation!



    You were honest, to the point and polite. You could give some professionals lessons.

    Sorry your surgery is still up in the air. I live with chronic pain from a herniated disk. Until you do it, you have no idea how much it can overwhelm you (or how cranky it makes you). I will keep you in prayers.

    Lori in PEI

    1. Thanks so much! It wasn't an easy review to write, so that means a lot :)

      Chronic pain is awful. And you are right, it is impossible to explain to people who have never had to deal with something like this.

      Thanks for all your support and for always reading! xo

  2. Great review! Loved your honestly. I thought that what the book lacked was emotions. Some of the things she wrote about were emotional events, but she wrote about them in such a straight forward way it was hard to sympathize with her!