biography · book review · entertainment · musicians/artists

Book Review: “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse

ImageWell, this one is tough to review. I had high hopes for this memoir by Mitch Winehouse, and I was looking forward to writing a more positive review. I appreciate the heartfelt message that Winehouse was trying to convey in writing this book. It’s very clear that he loved his daughter and would stop at nothing to help her get sober (off alcohol) and stay clean (off drugs). However, the book was so exhaustingly written that I wanted it to end at the half-way point.Without meaning to, Mitch painted a picture of a very selfish and spoiled daughter, even as an addict. I was upset that Amy put her family and friends through so much hell. She was very unfair to her older brother Alex who was deprived of his own father’s attention throughout those years. She was selfish with her father’s time, energy, and money. I feel so bad for Mitch: his quality of life admittedly went down during her sick years, and he didn’t have time to nurture his own emotional and mental health. The rest of her family and friends suffered needlessly and endlessly. I suspect that this knowledge might have been the catalyst for Amy’s possible suicide. (Regarding the possibility of suicide: Mitch acknowledges Amy’s awareness of her dangerous withdrawal game. She was stopping and starting alcohol, the most precarious thing she could do. The idea of her intentional demise is not far-fetched.)Another complaint: Mitch revealed too much about the already not-so-private struggles of his (in)famous daughter, and the book should’ve been much shorter—like by 100 pages. Mitch was cataloguing the details and events of a severe addict’s life and I felt like I was in therapy with both of them. I know the book recounted his rollercoaster ride of emotions and frustrations in dealing with his troubled daughter, but the story got stale soon, and I almost lost interest in it. And Janis was hardly present throughout most of the book…why? Despite the divorce, she was still Amy’s mother. The exclusion of Janis made the story feel odd and one-sided. The book doesn’t provide much evidence of Janis being involved in her daughter’s life, and maybe this is unfair to Janis.It took me almost a month to read this book, and that’s unusual because I usually eat anything up regarding Amy. I really enjoyed her music and wanted to learn more about her as a person. This is also where I feel Mitch could have done a better job. The chapters on young and teenage Amy were too brief. I wanted to know more about Amy as a child, youth, etc. and I think he jumped into her adulthood and adult problems prematurely. Thanks to the incessant tabloids during those most tumultuous years, I already knew how addicted and unstable Amy was during the height of her fame. I wanted to hear more evidence of what a sweet, caring daughter and friend she supposedly was. I already knew her father detested Blake (the book definitely provides Mitch’s unsavory opinions of Blake and his scum family) and really liked Reg. I already knew the background on the formulation of her two albums, and the people who worked with her professionally. Nothing new emerged, except about the Amy Winehouse Foundation—which is commendable, of course.

Okay, so here’s the verdict: my opinion of Amy changed for the worse with all this “insight” and I think the publication of this book will do nothing to keep the memory of her talents alive.

Were there ANY redeeming qualities about this book? Hmmm, I really can’t think of any other than the beautiful color pictures inside. Amy was a beautiful girl who didn’t realize her talent and faded away in the chaos and superficiality of celebrity. Her demise was predicated by the fact that she was a very troubled person with what I believe were serious underlying psychiatric problems (drug use, eating disorders—perhaps beyond the effects of her drug abuse, and her self-harming behaviors, for instance). But as for learning anything new about Amy and her life, the book did not provide that. Unfortunately for her legions of fans who will be expecting something wonderful and revelatory, it was a disappointment. Sorry, Mitch…this process might have been therapeutic for you personally, but it wasn’t a good idea if you wanted to keep the sympathy for your daughter alive.

Keepin’ up with the keepin’ on,

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