Book Review: The Pursuit of Porsha: How My Journey to Happiness Can Help You Find Yours
Publication Date: Nov 16, 2021
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Imprint: Worthy Books
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming
Those people who follow television and podcasts will recognize Porsha Williams, one of the stars of the popular reality show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and the soaring spin-off Porsha’ Having A Baby. Others will remember her silky appearances on NBC’s The New Celebrity Apprentice. In fact, Williams is all over the place, currently co-hosting Bravo’s late-night show Chat Room, the nationally syndicated Dish Nation, and hosting Stitcher’s Porcha4Real podcast.
As the late film critic Roger Ebert once said, “Every celebrity has one or two books in them, examining their journey to success.” This celebrity craze is an obsession with some, blending their regular lives with the ones whose existence is illuminated with a blitz of publicity and faux glamour. Williams, nicknamed ‘a true cornbread-fed Georgia Peach, believes her story is worthy of our attention and interest.
“Although I knew God wanted me to bring voice to my story and my testimony, I avoided writing a book for a long time because any good book is your truth on paper,” Williams writes.
A member of royalty among America’s pop culture, Williams, the granddaughter of famed civil rights activist Hosea Williams, boasts of ‘a blessing-filled life,’ going from homelessness to difficult personal drama to starring on The Real Housewives series to a successful businesswoman of two profitable companies. Fans of the reality TV show know Williams as one of the sassy, no-nonsense sisters, “falling in love with me through my triumphs, my heartbreaks, my mistakes, and myovercomes.”
When her parents split during the tender age of two, she gradually adjusts, becoming a tomboy, a Daddy’s girl, and a dreamer who stares out the window of her classroom. She loves her older brother, Hosea, who rules over everything. Still, she is plagued by deep sadness and periods of melancholy. Her idol, her mother, is the picture of inner strength, being the boss of a daycare and learning center. She couldn’t go to her mother with emotional weakness, so she held everything inside and pretended all was well.
A milestone occurs in her sixteen-year-old life as her father dies of a rare blood ailment and her world is turned upside down. As he could be loving and affectionate, her father could punish the whole household, putting his house on lockdown. She didn’t grieve him, but the trauma of his loss haunted her for the years ahead. Her words tug on the heartstring, very real.
“I didn’t expect that feeling of loss to show up again and again in relationships where it had no business popping in where it didn’t belong,” the performer said. “With grief hanging like a stank I couldn’t wash off, it seemed like a dog whistle, leading me to toxic relationships that would steal my joy.”
Williams’s prose is straightforward, unembellished, and candid when dealing with the constantly changing status of her love life. She is enamored with one professional football star and gets swept up in his sweet talk, resulting in a broken heart and shattered dreams. She decides to have an abortion rather than do it all alone in her twenties. Then she meets another gent, who fills in every box on her dating chart, successful and popular until she sees his other side which has her fleeing for her life. One remarkable episode deals with the charmer R Kelly, who she calls Robert, and the smooth pimp game he runs with the females. She is touched by the girls’ painful stories and pledges to help them.
Answering a prayer for a husband, Williams gets her divine wish when she meets Kordell, a prime NFL athlete who played for eleven years before joining as an ESPN correspondent. They want the same thing, especially family, and despite some red flags, she married him. He is peculiar about her family not coming to his stylish home because they made him feel uncomfortable. He begins neglecting her. Later, when she has problems with her pregnancy, he goes to a golf tournament, and later she miscarries, alone, in a guest bathroom.
As the elders say life consists of only key choices, Williams has made a mixed bag of decisions and preferences. There are some twisty dramas not only in her personal and professional life.
Celebrity is not an easy game. For many people, it is so fleeting, so difficult to sustain, and so easy to sabotage. Many readers of this book will see this as a cautionary tale and others will gobble this quest for notoriety as a career guidepost.
Take The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Williams sees it as an opportunity to as a way to promote her family’s various charities and showcase her fashionable Black marriage, while putting out a positive image on the show. A Black power couple. Kordell and Porsha. In no time, she becomes the star and he’s just Porsha’s hubby. Bad for most men, that situation can undercut many loving relationships. She had no idea what she was doing when she invited cameras into their home.
“Every time a camera pointed in my direction, I felt my heart race and my breath quicken and my palms sweat while I sat there trying to be natural,” Williams writes. “I was low key – well, really, high key, freaking out. It caused me to say a lot of dumb things, especially while filming my first season, that I simply didn’t realize or mean.”
Finally, she unravels in front of millions of fans of the show, losing her man and home. She asks herself: What does this say about me as a woman? How much can you give up before you don’t exist? What kind of future awaited her life? As Williams later writes, her ultimate choice is: “After the divorce, I didn’t need anything from men. Nothing.” In the end, she turns wholeheartedly to God, absorbing the Word of the Lord, and becoming an activist for the poor and voiceless.
Every chance Porsha Williams works to advance the cause of equal rights on behalf of our community, she does with clarity and focus. “The government needs to know that we are outraged, this is not okay, and all eyes are on you to do the right thing. We needed to galvanize the public to force the government into doing its job: one that seems overwhelmingly hard to do when it comes to Black bodies.”
Lastly, Williams acknowledges many of these stories deal with pain and sadness. She dismisses the idea of her image being glamourous, stylish, and completely successful. Wisely, she writes there is no perfect version of her nor a perfect version of anyone. The lesson here is to confront and deal with your pain and sadness. If this is the sum and total of this Williams book, any reader can count its product as successful and quite effective. “If these words can help someone find lightness during dark times, then I have accomplished what I set out to do,” she writes. This alone sets this memoir apart from some others cluttering on the bookshelves. Open your eyes and imagine the real persona behind the celebrity mask.