I was excited to get a notice from the library that Never Make the Same Mistake Twice: Lessons on Love and Life Learned the Hard Way was finally available. I was probably the 30th person in queue when I requested it last year. It’s the memoir from the The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s reality-TV star Nene Leakes, co-written with my highly-regarded “Facebook friend” and renowned author Denene Millner.
I didn’t watch the first season of Housewives when it was on, but I heard so much buzz about it from my friends about the antics of the ladies on the Atlanta show that I decided to watch the repeat episodes. By the time Season 2 started, I was hooked—what can I say? And as much as people may complain or look down on some of the ladies in the show for their nonsensical disputes, it is quite entertaining. And we all know reality-shows are about drama. As Nene says in the book, no one would watch if they saw the mundane things that housewives do—cleaning the house, etc.
Apparently, Never Make the Same Mistake Twice was written between Seasons 1 and 2. Nene keeps it real for the entire book. The way she talks, her views, her sass, her vulnerability, and equally unapologetic attitude flow through each chapter. If you’ve watched just 10 minutes of one episode of Housewives, then you know what I’m talking about.
Feeling Unwanted and Unloved
Near the beginning of the book, it hurt my heart to hear her story about being abandoned by her mother, while she favored her children with her new husband. Nene was raised by her aunt and uncle, but something was always missing without having a real relationship with either of her parents.
Love is Not Supposed to Hurt
Nene’s recounting of the days when she was with her abusive boyfriend (Bryson’s biological father) is inspirational and very courageous of her to share. Nene talks about getting pregnant by an abusive man, finding out that another girl was pregnant by him at the same time, and then after their breakup (in which he and his mother denied paternity), she took him back. Some people may think that was stupid, but it happens all the time, and I’m glad she put it out there. That experience was the inspiration for her Twisted Hearts Foundation, which was a prominent storyline in Season 1. If nothing else, this chapter should help a lot of women struggling with domestic violence.
Gaining Power By Taking It Off
Nene showed more of her vulnerable side when talking about her stripping days. It may not make sense to you, but she explains how stripping empowered her when she had to make ends meet. She stripped for 3 years, during the end of which time, she met Gregg (and no, he was not at the strip club when they met). They took a chance on each other, even though it was unexpected. It once again proves that the package your mate comes in may arrive differently than expected.
The part of the book that I thought was a little too long was the part where she talked about Kim and Sheree, in separate chapters. The discussion about Kim was in a gossipy style just the way she talks about her on the show. Sheree’s chapter added a little background on their falling out, but it all contributed to her reluctance to make new friends. She did not mention DeShawn or Lisa in any detail. I imagine DeShawn was not in Season 2 because she was so sweet and didn’t have drama in her life, and Nene confirmed that in this story.
Lessons Learned, Indeed
Nene closes out the book by listing 20 lessons learned about parenting, marriage, friendship, and most importantly, herself. This chapter is the best in the book because this is where she shines. For example, she admits that it’s hard to forgive people, but she’s working on it. It nicely summarizes the takeaways from the book.
The Verdict (No Pun Intended!)
I don’t think the title of the book really matches its content. Yes, she talks about mistakes she made, but she doesn’t tie in that theme in the various chapters. Nevertheless, if you enjoy Nene’s “character” on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, you will find this book interesting. It’s easy to read and it will make you laugh. You will find yourself, saying “Wow!” or “Oh no…” with her one-of-a-kind storytelling style. It is what it is.
The popularity of the show may bring a Season 3, especially with the stories last month (March 2010) about Kim being bisexual and Nene’s son Bryson being arrested for possession of marijuana. Stay tuned.