The latest book for the BlogHer Book Club is You Have No Idea by Vanessa and Helen Williams – yes, that Vanessa Williams – and her mom. Per usual, here’s the part where I tell you that I get paid for this review and receive a free book, but all opinions stated in this post are my own.
So, what did I think of this book? Well, the cover looks like a 1980s self help book, and in this case you should judge a book by its cover.
The ‘memoir’ felt braggadocious a lot of the time. It seemed like a way for Vanessa to discuss the accomplishments and trials of her life rather than the emotions and reality of it all. The narrative was all over the place, with some random little boxed inserts like “Helen’s Words on…” and “Vanessa’s Favorite Reads” that didn’t lend anything to the overall story. The chapters switched back and forth between Vanessa’s career to her love life, without much in between. There were some poignant stories from her childhood and pageant days, but a lot of the content seemed like filler. Most chapters were written by Vanessa– with Helen throwing in her two cents at the end about how she always knew better.
To be fair, there were definitely some interesting parts – Vanessa being crowned the first black Miss America and all the prestige and threats that came with that, scandalous nude photos, her Broadway career – but the book could have been condensed considerably to focus on those aspects. Also, I will totally admit that I bawled at the section on the death of her father. Any mention of the elderly or the death of a loved one in a book, and you can bet I’ll shed a tear.
In the end, I’m not recommending you run out and purchase this one. If you come across a free or lendable copy, give it a chance. Otherwise, skip it.