Vanessa and Helen Williams prove “You Have No Idea”

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You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams

You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams

As we approach Mother’s Day, here is a suggestion for a book gift written by Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America and her mother Helen Williams entitled,  “You Have No Idea.”

In other words, we would never guess what “Really” went down in their lives. From the outside looking into the Williams family, I would guess this is probably true. We learn that Helen’s trust issues stem from her early years in the care of her abusive  grandparents. These issues translated themselves in her mothering style and reflect what she missed in the absence of her own parent’s involvement.

Yet Helen and Vanessa’s father Milton created a loving, warm home. From an early age however, it is clear that Vanessa will play by her own rules and this creates  conflict between her and her mother.

The tension between Helen and Vanessa begins in Vanessa’s adolescence and continues virtually until the birth of Vanessa’s first child.  Vanessa’s intention to live her life and fulfill her personal dreams conflict with how her mother thinks this should take place. Notwithstanding the disagreements between the two, Helen NEVER abandons Vanessa’s decisions.  Helen and her husband always give Vanessa the support she needs.

I followed Vanessa’s public rise, fall and rise again in the early 1980s via the media, beginning as the first Miss Black America.   I had no idea of the extent of bad mouthing she received from  black and white people once her nude photos were discovered; the treatment she received traveling around the country on behalf of the pageant; or the wholesale negativity she withstood simply because she is pretty.  I was happy when she got back on top some years later proving she was no one trick pony.  She didn’t let the world bring her down.

This book is about the kind of love most of us yearn for — One that is unconditional.  I love the way these two loved each other. It made me miss my mother and it brought back good memories.

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

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