Book Review: “Just Kids” by Patti Smith

What a great love story for two young kids with great passion for arts, poems, and music.

My takeaways from the memoir:
– Being an true artist starting out could be a trial experience. Patti Smith was homeless for a while and was constantly hungry and directionless, and yet her passion for art, poems, music kept her going.
– She met Robert in a book store then bumped into him as she was trying to escape the advances of a date. That’s when their relationship started.
– Her love for Robert Maplethorpe read like a love story despite Robert’s inclination toward homosexuality later in life.
– Pregnant at 19 and gave up her daughter up for adoption and then leave down. Now that’s brave in that era.
– In her dire financial situation, she saved enough money to travel to France and stayed for months. That takes determination and the passion for France.
– Though she frequently encounter people using drugs/speed, she stayed clean until she started using marijuana – a mild form.
– Her low, monotone voice in the audiobook takes some time to get used to. At the end, it was almost poetic.
– The description of the New York arts scenes, the famous people and fame-searching peole in and out of Chelsea Hotel, all make an interesting backdrop of story.
– In the beginning, I didn’t sense she was musically talented except for listening to them and hanging out with famous singer like Jimi Hendrix. I kept looking for clue that she discovered her talent later in life. But all along, her love for drawing, poems and lyrics seem to exceed her love for singing or song writing. Fortunately, she’s got a good voice and musically talented after all, or maybe she tried to minimize her singing talent.
– Because of this book, I googled/brushed up all the characters mentioned in the book and Patti Smith’s songs and poems including her Patti Smith Complete book. She’s indeed talented.
– After reading the book, I have new found respect for those who are passionate about arts and creativity in spite of difficult situation. The world owed them the refinement they endowed on this earth. Makes me want to write some poems. Maybe I will.

I particularly like the farewell paragraph: “I stood there and looked at him. So peaceful like an ancient child. He opened his eyes and smiled.” Back so soon?” And then again to sleep. So my last image was as the first. A sleeping youth cloaked in light, who opened his eyes with a smile of recognition for someone who had never been a strange.” When you can adore someone through the hard time and happy time, you have the love of your life. A relationship to envy. It’s great that Robert makes this book and stories his dying wish. What a treat for all of us!