Just Kids by Patti Smith book review

Just Kids was required reading for the school I’m transferring to this fall. I never would have picked it up otherwise, as the names Patti Smith and Robert Mappleforth did no more than ring a few bells. Now I look forward to having a conversation with the professor who assigned this, as Smith has become a welcome addition to my personal library.

I was immediately taken by Smith’s voice. Her writing is smooth, well paced, and conversational. It’s like a love letter to young artists, a grandmother offering her stories and advice to a reader she loves.

Smith does what all good memoirs do by crafting her story as a journey rather than an autobiography. I constantly found myself rooting for both her and Robert, and the knowledge that their relationship would grow increasingly complex kept me turning the page.

While one might note a tendency to name drop, Smith doesn’t waste time glorifying the likes of Dali and Dylan. Rather, she depicts individuals who played a role in her and Robert’s artistic life, eloquently crafting their personas. She doesn’t waste time on extraneous detail, which keeps this at a nice, consumable 200 pages.

This coming of age story has a huge, beating heart. Smith threw her whole self into the gentle prose and authentic voice, recalling a transformative path of two groundbreaking artists. I blazed through every word and observation as if I were watching a film, and emerged not only with the intimate knowledge of a superbly wise and insightful artist, but with the motivation to become a better artist, through and through.

psmith2

And the cover? To die for.

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