Book CornerMusic Reviews

Book Review: Brutally Honest By Melanie Brown

Release Date: November 27, 2018

To her legions of fans around the world, Melanie Brown was living the glamorous life. The former Spice Girl had everything you could ask for: money, fabulous clothes, a beautiful family, and a loving husband. Little did we know Brown was actually living a nightmare. She recounts some of her darkest moments in her new book Brutally Honest.  No topic is taboo for the singer. The book is a harrowing look at what the cameras, the fans, and even her family didn’t see. Everything is up for discussion from her relationship with Eddie Murphy to her suicide attempts and her drug abuse.

You know things are going to get intense when Brown opens the book with her suicide attempt. From there, she keeps digging deep opening up about her sexual appetite, including her past relationships with women, the discrimination she faced growing up in a blended family, her fractured relationship with her father, and even her cosmetic procedures. But the most notable moments deal with her time with Eddie Murphy, who she refers to as the love of her life. Though their relationship ended in heartache, she looks back fondly on her time with him. She describes how they first met, why they clicked so well together, and how she fell for him. She also reveals some of Murphy’s eccentricities like not leaving the house often and routine walkthroughs of his house. Though they’re no longer together, she speaks of him full love, showing he’s still a person, she holds close to her heart.

Of course, Brown also talks about The Spice Girls. While there’s no juicy gossip about the girls, she shares memories of their humble beginnings, signing their first record deal, and reuniting for the 2012 Olympics in London. She even details the departure of Geri Halliwell and the feelings of resentment it brought about. Brown does show some frustration when talking about the recently announced Spice Girls reunion tour. She mentions feeling blindsided by how the meeting took place and shocked when Victoria Beckham backed out (once again). Other than that, there isn’t much information most fans won’t know, but it’s still enjoyable to hear about the group from Brown’s side.

The most difficult part of Brown’s story is her abusive marriage to Stephen Belafonte (no relation to Harry Belafonte). She makes shocking revelations, such as how he controlled her bank account, him obsessively calling her while she was filming America’s Got Talent, recording her while she was under the influence, and how he often referred to her as an unfit mother. She also highlights the way he pushed her away from her family leaving her scared and alone. Things got so bad she turned to cocaine to cope making things worse. These parts are difficult to get through and will often leave you with chills. Sometimes things get so ugly that you have to pause before continuing. But that’s the point. Brown is showing how ugly abuse is, how it comes in all forms, and how it doesn’t discriminate.

This isn’t just Brown’s survival story. It’s also her way of healing. The way she speaks so freely and openly makes it feel like you’re reading her journal at times. She questions herself at various points for not noticing the red flags sooner, why she didn’t realize how the marriage affected her kids, and why she changed who she was. It’s also meant to help others in similar situations. Brown says she hopes her story will give others the strength to fight back and do what they need to get out of toxic relationships. She even includes a “15 Signs of Domestic Abuse” guide to help those know when it’s time to leave.

Brutally Honest is a gripping, yet harrowing story that doesn’t sugar coat the hard stuff. This isn’t a feel good, light read about a celebrity. The book is intense, filled with emotional peaks and valleys. It’s a book where Brown gives us naked honesty and is truthful with readers and herself. It’s an eye-opening account not only of Brown’s tumultuous life but of what abuse can look like and why it’s not always as simple as walking away.

Brutally Honest is out now.


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Melanie Brown - Brutally Honest
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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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