Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams & Helen Williams

From the back of the book: When Vanessa Williams was growing up, she had a plan: She'd go to college and major in musical theater; afterward she'd get her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and then she would embark on a successful career on Broadway. But her life took a detour and she wound up the first black Miss America in September 1983 (an accomplishment that she never planned for or desired), only to be forced to resign ten months later due to a nude photo scandal-much to the shock of her mother, Helen, who had told her, "never pose nude for anyone". But Vanessa survived this setback, and many others to come, to enjoy a thirty-plus-year career as an award-winning singer and actress. Vanessa has been asked to write her memoir many times, but only now-in collaboration with her mother, Helen-is she ready to tell her story. 

Let me be straight up. I don't often read celebrity memoirs. Actually, I don't often read nonfiction in general. I don't have a lot of time to read nowadays, and when I do, I usually go where my heart is--fiction. However, when I joined BlogHer Book Club almost two years ago, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to reach out of my literary comfort zone, and so I planned to just say yes to any offer to read and review that came my way, because you never know when you'll stumble upon something that you might not have picked for yourself, but ended up loving.

You Have No Idea was definitely not a book that I would have picked for myself in the bookstore, but I thought it sounded interesting anyway, because let's face it, Vanessa Williams has had a pretty amazing, dramatic, and interesting life.

And here's the part where I'm not really sure how to continue on with the review. Because it wasn't a bad book--I finished it in one evening. It was FUNNY. The stories were entertaining, though they felt a bit gossipy at times. Vanessa Williams undoubtedly had an interesting life and accomplished some amazing things, and that was fun to read about. But honestly? It just isn't a book that jumps to the top of my mind when someone asks what the best book I've read recently is.

That said, it is kind of a fun, easy read, and there's a place for that sort of book too, even though my heart belongs to fiction. It was sort of a memoir/nonfiction equivalent to the standard beach read. I guess the bottom line is that it wasn't my favorite book I've read this year, but it also wasn't a bad book by any means, so you shouldn't discount it if it caught your eye!

But (to steal a line from Reading Rainbow), don't take my word for it! See what others have to say over on BlogHer Book Club, where you can even read an excerpt of Vanessa Williams talking about her nude photo scandal! But hurry, the excerpts don't seem to stay up for long!

Disclosure Statement: This was a paid review as part of BlogHer Book Club. As always, the thoughts are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!

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