A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this award-winning biography of one of the most influential female rock stars of the '60s was based on letters and interviews with family and friends of Janis Joplin, as well as previous articles written about her. Drug experimentation and addiction are definitely part of the story, but they are neither glorified nor sentimentalized, and are definitely not the book's focus. What is emphasized here are the very human struggles of a young girl trying to break out of the constraints of living in Texas in the very traditional '50s, how she found her voice, and the toll her struggles took on her life. There are also mentions of sex and there's some occasional profanity.
What's the story?
Janis Joplin began life as a shy little girl from a small town in Texas. She rebelled as a teenager, rose to rock stardom in the '60s, and died at 27, alone in a hotel room, of a heroin and alcohol overdose. Within the psychedelic covers of this biographical book, readers will find page after page of \ engaging and factual text scattered with poignant photographs that tell the whole story of this amazing blues singer. In some ways, her life was quite ordinary; she yearned for love, family, etc. But she was also a bigger-than-life star who rode the crest of the wave during the rock and roll revolution that also took the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Funky scrolls decorate the margins much like they did the posters of the' 60s, and a timeline and references at the end add more context.
Is it any good?
This biography not only traces the rise and fall of rock star Janis Joplin, but also gives a sensitive, though not overly sentimental, portrait of her personal life. The reader will understand why it won the 2011 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. The reader is left with a real feeling for what life must have been like for her as she tried to break out of the mold, the highs and the lows, the fun, the joy, and the tragedy. In a story taken primarily from interviews with friends and family, as well as their letters to and from Joplin, this biography is well-documented, clearly-written, and meaty enough without being heavy-handed or too sentimental.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the author handles drug and alcohol use in this book. They are a part of Janis Joplin's story -- and tragically ended her life -- but they are neither glamorized nor demonized here. What do you think of that choice?
This book won the 2011 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Do you think it deserved this honor? Do you care if a book is award-winning or not? Do you think awards help the publisher sell more copies?
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