Review: You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Willams

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

ImageOne of the questions people ask when nude photos appear is why did the celebrity take them. Vanessa Williams admitted to doing it not once, but twice in her book You Have No Idea (co-written with her mother Helen Williams and Irene Zutell). A mere six weeks before the end of her term as Miss America, Williams learned that Penthouse planned to print nude pictures of her. During both her nude photo shoots, where the photographers promised the images wouldn’t be trashy, Williams recounts uneasy feelings.

Williams never hides from that mistake, or any of the others she makes throughout her life. She frequently recounts advice given to her by her mother Helen regarding life and love. Little responses and blurbs from Helen throughout the book give the stories a bit of an alternative view. Sometimes she sounds like an exasperated mother while others she sounds truly moved or surprised.

Vanessa Williams, while frank about events, does not go into too much detail. Occasionally, it feels as if she glosses over some incidents, like with her love life. One message that’s clear throughout the book is that a person must move on rather than dwell on past mistakes.

Helen William’s additions to the book at a little spice and sass to the tale. There’s Vanessa’s version of some stories and then there is her mother’s. It sounds as if the two are sitting in the same room telling their versions. It’s easy to imagine witnessing the conversations. Sometimes Helen’s emotions mirror the readers, like when Vanessa discusses her abortion. Other times Helen agrees and supports her daughter, like regarding the Miss America scandal.

You Have No Idea captures the concept that no one really knows what goes on behind the scenes with a person, even if she’s related to you. Vanessa and Helen take life as it comes, learn from the past and push forward for a better future. Readers will appreciate Vanessa’s drive for success in the face of ruin and laugh at Helen’s frank observations. You Have No Idea is a must-read for anyone dealing with a difficult situation or needing a laugh.

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