Although I had heard plenty about this book by Patti Smith – especially about how great it was, and that it was a ‘must read’ – I was not sure what exactly Smith’s memoir was going to be about. I had made the incorrect assumption that Just Kids would be about Smiths experiences in the early punk scene of New York City, I was wrong.
Just Kids is a memoir – an excellent memoir – about Patti Smiths relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe who she met when she first got to New York – but it is also so much more. Just Kids is a story about life, about ambition, about beauty and about dreams.
I wish this book existed when I first got into college almost 15 years ago – so much of it would have been helpful to hear. I was under the terrible impression that people like Patti Smith had it easy when they were starting out in their life. I had this envy of the early punk scene believing that everyone who got involved in it easily found success.
This was not the case.
Patti and Robert struggled a lot when they were first starting out in New York – nothing came easy for them. It appeared that most of their initial success was the result of happenstance; i.e. Pattie the poet turned rock star. She just let life happen – accepted change for the sake of change, meanwhile sticking to principles that ultimately helped her along the way. The fact that Smith didn’t do drugs in such a drug saturated environment was inspiring. She knew what would harm her and kept her distance.
Just Kids needs to become required reading, especially for the kids who are questioning their place in the world. This book deserves all the praise and hype that it’s received. My only disappointment is that I put off reading it for so long.