Not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said already about Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids. Not only has it been widely praised, but was also a nominee for book of the year in the National Book Circle Critic Award in the autobiography category.

Smith, I didn’t know, grew up in the South Jersey area. I also had no idea that she lived at the Chelsea Hotel, that she never thought she’d be a singer, that she went to New York to be an artist in drawing and poetry. I had no idea that she was such an amazing writer, either.

It’s not really a rock and roll memoir. Instead, it’s a coming of age story about a confused young woman who moves to New York at 20 years old after giving up a baby for adoption. She lives on the streets for a while until she meets the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Together, they struggle with their work, themselves, and if not each other, then their relationship with each other, particularly Mapplethorpe, who was exploring his homosexuality at the same time he was in a relationship with Smith.

It’s beautifully written, and even if you’re not familiar with Smith’s music, worth a read.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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