Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel

Janis wasn't your average teenage girl growing up in the heart of Texas during the 1960s. She was very different compared to normal girls her age. Her classmates would often say that she was "too loud, her clothes to dark, her opinions too strange" and the girls especially would ostracized her because of it (5).  Being exiled Janis made friends with five guys. At the time befriending five boys instantly labeled you as “loose”, “promiscuous”, or “easy” (18). These guys introduced Janis to the world of the Beats. This was a world that rejected conformity and embraced personal freedom.  In her spare time she would sing.  Singing made Janis want to “talk more, to become more of the naturally flowing-out sort of person she felt she was instead of a hold-it-and-be-quiet type” (9). She was influenced by folk music and how it expressed a life filled with hardwork, loss, and pain. Janis struggled with fitting in, wanting to be loved, and enhancing her creativity as a musician. On her road to fame Janis experimented with marijuana, speed, heroin, and alcohol. She sought adulation and she found it from her fans, during live shows, whenever she would use drugs and perform.  “Fame had nurtured and encouraged Janis’s wild, over-the-top behavior” and people accepted it (99). This is the Janis that the world would musically get to know, encouraged, love; the unrenowned first Queen of Rock.     
Ann Angel, combining pictures with text, does a good job of portraying the life of Janis Joplin.  Her intended audience for this book were teenagers, both boys and girls.  Angel takes you into the life of a girl who was a social outcast in high school. She depicts Janis’s transition from an awkward teenage student to a famous adult musician; a singer whose voice was unique and demanded attention. Although drugs and alcohol were a major influence during Joplin’s career, her music speaks volumes even today. High school kids these days are still being ostracized and try to find ways to cope with that fact whether that be sports, music, drugs, etc. I think that this book serves as a reminder to teens that the choices you make when you are young can affect you later in life.
                     To be accepted and loved is all she ever wanted...



baboonfan said...

This sounds like a fun book to read during a class. Biographies can be boring, but a rock star's life is full of excitement. However, there is the issue that all rock stars and modern rap musicians bring up. While their art may be popular, the values they instill, intentionally or not, are not the positive ones we want our kids to know. We see rock stars we think drugs and sex, raps stars, sex and violence. I think this would be a good book to read, and could go over really well with the students if you present the material in the right way, but realistically I know that there would be a group of parents to protest it.

Clarice Howard said...

This book sounds like it would be something that students would actually be interested in reading. It seems like students could really relate to Janis's life. I think all students at some point in high school feel like an outsider or outcast and will feel a connection to Janis. Hopefully young adults who read this can help students through hard times in their lives and help them to realize how to handle difficult situations in a more positive way than turning to drugs and alcohol. Hopefully they can learn from Janis's mistakes rather than making their own. This book could teach students that they are not invincible and that everything they do, even when they are young, can affect your future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Book Wind,
Thank you for posting on Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing. She was a hero of mine when I was growing up because she wasn't afraid to be different and to stand out and speak out. She became my cautionary tale. I hope her story serves to do both for the people who read it.
Rock on!
Ann Angel

Alexandra Klitz said...

I love Janis Joplin, and this sounds like a great book for teaching. There's been a lot of interest in the "it gets better" campaign. I think that Janis's story of being an awkward teen that became a rock star is a great example of that. At the same time, it serves as a warning for when one allows fame and the rock and roll lifestyle goes to their head. Janis Joplin died way before her time, as a lot of brilliant musicians have. I think it could spark a great discussion on the correlation of creativity and drug use/depression in a psychology class as well.

Ann ANgel said...

Thank you for the lovely review!
Ann ANgel

Ann Angel said...

Thank you for this lovely review!
All best,
Ann Angel