This is a very interesting look at Janis Joplin. Nice photos.
This book was a labor of love. It began as a short piece that Angel was encouraged to expand. She worked on it for years, conducting email interviews with Joplin's friend and bandmate Sam Andrew (who wrote the introduction), Joplin's former road manager John Byrne Cooke and her friend and publicist Myra Friedman. Angel even forged her own friendship with Friedman.
The eye-popping design is a delight. The colors and patterns adorning the pages reflect the psychedelic look of the album art included as illustrations. There are also many photos of Joplin, some filling an entire page, that show her both in her awkward youth and as the performer that she transformed herself into. This a fun book to browse through.
Angel does a really good job of describing Joplin’s persona and the impact her persona had on people, but what I felt was missing was in-depth analysis of her music. There is discussion of a few song lyrics, but it seemed a little too shallow to me. I would also have liked to hear more thoughts from fans and musicians who were influenced by Joplin. I thought that the view of 1950s culture presented was a little simplistic, but I liked how Angel shows Joplin as a misfit who struggled with her self image -- something that teens can identify with.
* This is an official nomination for the YALSA Nonfiction award, which will be announced in January.*
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