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The hippie generation will wax nostalgic hearing about the life of the indomitable pop musician Joplin (1943-70) and the events, circumstances, and culture of the 1960s that helped shape one of the world's most famous female rock/blues singers. Her younger sister, Laura, is author of this well-written, candid, and very personal biography that includes Janis's letters home. Laura traces Janis's metamorphosis from encouraged, precocious child to socially aware, rebellious adolescent to dynamic but drug-and-alcohol-friendly rock star, putting Janis's untimely and tragic death into perspective. This is the story of an emotionally and spiritually charged woman's quest to unleash her full potential. Actress Debra Winger narrates this heartfelt recording. For most collections.-Barbara J. Vaughan, State Univ. Coll. at Buffalo Lib., N.Y.
Blues singer Janis Joplin, who died of a heroin overdose in 1970 at the age of 27, is recalled here by her sister, who seems as square as Janis was hip. Although the portrait opens inauspiciously with a yawn-inducing chapter on the family tree, it gains momentum as it describes the performer's adolescence in Port Arthur, Tex. She emerges as a woman who resisted stereotypical feminine behavior; no student, she dropped out of college twice--first to move to Venice, Calif., later to live in San Francisco. Her warm, exuberant, apparently infrequent letters to her concerned family glorify the late-'60s Haight-Ashbury scene, where she gained notoriety and wealth with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. The book chronicles the singer's drug and alcohol abuse, her famous friends (who included cartoonist Gilbert Shelton and musician Country Joe McDonald) and her overwhelming fame. Despite her sister's occasionally disapproving, jealous tone, fans will welcome this intimate, poignant look at a fondly missed superstar. Photos. 60,000 first printing; first serial to Rolling Stone; author tour. (Sept.)
YA-- Beginning with Joplin's death, focusing backwards for a short family history, and then to the personal and professional life of this blues star, this book is written with both love and objectivity. YAs will identify with the young woman's adolescent angst, her search for purpose, her support of social justice, her friendships, and the seriousness with which she approached both art and life. Joplin's disillusionment with college, her introduction to the music and the Beat scenes in California, and her involvement in drugs and advocation of sexual experimentation are acknowledged, set in context of the turbulent '60s, and accepted as part of Janis. Students should enjoy the conversational text enhanced by interviews with her friends and professional colleagues, the wide variety of personal photos, and most particularly, the large collection of letters written between September 1964-April 1970.-- Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA