Cover Image: Didn't We Almost Have It All

Didn't We Almost Have It All

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Member Reviews

As a lifelong fan of Whitney Houston and her music, I was immediately interested in this book. This is in no way a gossipy, rehashing of the events that have already been told in far too many magazines and movies. Instead, Kennedy takes a deep dive into Whitney's real life - from childhood until her final days - focusing on the environment that created her and the challenges and victories of her life.

Brandy, who we all know loved and adored Whitney, wrote the foreword. That alone is a huge cosign - if nothing else, that should encourage you to read the book. Her words were open, honest and revealing. Her words were detailed and let us in on her pain, joy and on their relationship.

In the introduction, Kennedy talks about how he had a difficult time trying to listen to Whitney's music after she passed. It reminded me of how I felt after Aaliyah passed - it was years before I could listen to one note. 

Kennedy does a great job of balancing Whitney's life story, personal relationships and the impact of her music. His years of journalism experience are evident as he discusses how Whitney's life shaped her music and how her entertainment industry experience impacted her.

Later in the book, he talks about the industry as a whole and the direct impact that Whitney had on the singers who would come after her; especially how she made it a point to encourage and uplift upcoming talent. Even as she was dealing with dire circumstances, she made time for those who came after her. It is why so many of today's artists cite her as not only a role model but a mentor and friend.

This is a great book for anyone who admired or appreciated Whitney's artistry but it will also be interesting for anyone who is interested in the music industry or as an introduction to the powerhouse that is Whitney Houston.
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Author Gerrick Kennedy begins this book with the acknowledgement that it's not  going to be a recounting of Whitney Houston's life. It's not a biography, per se, it's a "Defense of Whitney Houston". 

Kennedy essentially centers Houston and uses her story to present informative diatribes about being black in a white music world, being lgbtq in "the church", being a Black artist in the crossfire of the "war on drugs", being a woman under immense behavioral expectations while men behaved badly without repercussions, the role of the media in creating entertainment out of the destruction of celebrities, etc etc etc. The tone of the book can be exemplified in this quote: "This was a voice that could exhilarate in one moment and bring you to your knees the next. And we spent so much time telling her that it wasn’t enough. That she wasn’t good enough. Interesting enough. Artistic enough. Black enough. Straight enough."

If you're looking for a detailed re-telling of Whitney's life, keep looking. For those intrigued by societal questions of what we owe to celebrities and and what we have the right to expect of them, this may be an enlightening read.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and #NetGalley for the opportunity to review this ARC. #DidntWeAlmostHaveItAll
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Loving reading this book by @GerrickKennedy. It's a tribute to Whitney handled with delicacy befitting her life, talent and background. Importantly, it reminds us what part we the public play in media frenzies and industry reviews that put unnecessary pressure on artists - particularly groundbreaking ones. 
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Gerrick deftly reminds us of the timeline as Whitney came to the forefront - on the heels of Motown when MTV was new and music from Black artists often didn't crossover to pop charts. He reminds us of the pressures Whitney faced being raised in a household of faith, bred and steeped in church choirs, with family members who took issue with some of the topics she sang about even on her debut release. Throughout her life critics accused her of not being original enough, Black enough, while also saying she was too soulful and too R&B, while R&B stations avoided playing her music and taunted her with the moniker "Whitey". By now we all know the limelight comes with a high cost, but Gerrick reminds us how much more volatile and unpredictable it was before life became more digital. He examines and asks whether we, the fans and industry, would be kinder and more accepting of her relationships and genre bending today. So much has changed since she perished in 2012, but too many things have stayed the same. 
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Looking through the focused lens of the eras Whitney was raised, released and ultimately defeated in, it's undeniable that if she had faced fewer pressures and less backlash for things we accept more openly today, she would likely still be with us. It's a necessary reflection.
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Like many others I grew up listening to Whitney on cassette and CD. Her runs and grace notes schooled me more than my own upbringing in church choirs and concerts. Many vocalists will carry her with us in all our recordings and future releases. 
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Didn't We Almost Have it All, releasing Feb 2022. 

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I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, her tapes were played on my little purple ​boom box constantly. I will still belt out those same amazing songs while waiting for kids after school. I always felt bad for Whitney because with the rest of the world we watched her fall. With this book Gerrick Kennedy is doing an amazing thing not just for Whitney’s memory but for the world. Whitney dealt with a lot as a child and then to be in the spotlight that she wasn’t black enough for, and she wasn’t white enough for. She was too squeaky clean but then when she wasn’t she was criticized for that as well. Then there was her relationship with Robyn. Could she be her authentic self or did she have to stick to an image that was made for her. And then there were the drugs. As I was reading all I could think of was wow this poor girls mental health. My heart broke again for this beautiful icon that was not able to be herself. Gerrick  did an amazing job with Whitney’s story! The compassion and truth Gerrick details was so enlightening!
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This book is an emotional look into the life and death of Whitney Houston and I was very moved by it all. You can tell how absolutely passionate the author, Gerrick Kennedy, is about Whitney and his respect and admiration for her is rich throughout this work. I would even go so far that it’s more of a tribute with some biographical facts mixed in.
I was young when Whitney Houston was going through her struggles in the 90s and early 2000’s and I only ever knew her music, so reading this book has been quite the eye opener. But not just in the way of talking about her problems with substance abuse. Reading about her triumphs, her sexuality, and all of the  difficulties she was put through, I don’t think I could’ve ever appreciated any of it when I was a kid.
This book was amazing, with a fast pace and very personal and wonderful writing, and I’m glad to have learned so much more about Whitney Houston.
Many thanks to Abrams Press and Netgalley for the ARC.
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Kennedy has an engaging sense of style as a writer, and his careful consideration of the events of Houston's life open up insights rarely engaged with when discussing the legendary performer. I will be ruminating on this one for a long time.
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This book was a page turner from beginning to end. Who is not obsessed with Whitney Houston? And the bodyguard? I loved leaning her background, her story, and was sad learning the truth of her downfall.  So well written and put together.  I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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"Didn't We Almost Have It All" is a biography of Whitney Houston that is as much about pop culture, particularly from the perspective of the Black community, as it is about the legend. This book, which could be considered a set of separate essays on aspects of Whitney's life, shows how Whitney came of age in a world that was dominated both by the church and drug culture. Groomed for white public consumption as an artist, Whitney was immediately positioned in a way that distanced herself from the African American community, setting her up for a lifetime of efforts to prove she was "enough." Similarly, she had to turn against her early same-sex romance to fit into the image her mother and manager simultaneously had of her. Unable to be "enough" to various groups, unable to admit the addictions that wrecked her voice and undermined her career, Whitney's life ended in a sadly understandable spiral of self-hate and shame. 

What's good: Kennedy's book offers a fascinating take on Whitney Houston's life, not hesitating to swing the camera around and point it at the audience. His discussion of Whitney's relationship with the Black media and public, in particular, is eye-opening.

What's iffier: It's not a matter of "iffy," but what a reader might expect. If the reader wants the biographer to (seemingly) disappear into the text and wants instead a recitation of life facts and sources, this biography doesn't fit that standard mold.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this fascinating book.
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This book provided a different look at Whitney Houston. I was expecting this book to be a piece defending the choices this superstars made. It was not that at all. It was a well written piece on this superstar. It gives you the good, bad and ugly. I enjoyed how the author also gave glimpses of other things that were going on in the time frame of things with Whiny. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely recommend.  Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving the book in this manner had no bearing on this review.
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I am not sure where to start with this review, so I guess I will start at the beginning.  I was really excited to get to read this book early, Whitney Houston was one of my favorite singers growing up.

I really liked this book over all.  I did think that the author presented all facets of Whitney Houston's life, but mostly the good. it talks about her struggles as well but is certainly not a tell all book which I really liked. ( we already have number of these and we don't need to have another one).

My one thing that I didn't like about the book was I thought that at times we lost focus of our subject.  I understand the author was trying to give cultural context for what he was talking about, I thought sometimes he went a little off center.

Over all I really did like this book, and thought it was a great read.  I would certainly recommend it to any Whitney Houston fan, or anyone who would like to get some more information about her life.
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