Book Review: “Just Kids”

Reviewed by Kate Prendergast

Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” tells the story of two young artists. The narrator, Patti, tells of her early years and her move to the 1960s punk rock world of New York City. Lacking money, a job and a home, Patti attempts in vain to locate friends who may help her. Meeting Robert Mapplethorpe ends her search and begins her life as an artist.

After Robert and Patti save enough for their own place, they begin making connections with other artists and developing their own work—Robert focusing on photography and Patti not focusing at all.

When Patti learns that Robert is having difficulty determining his sexuality, they become distant. After a painful separation, they realize they can never be apart. They move back in together, this time allowing freedom to see others but remaining loyal to their strange mutualism. Together, they work their way up the artistic, financial and social ladders. Their story’s desperate climax arrives when Robert learns he has AIDS.

I appreciated this memoir because it read like a novel. Getting to know Patti Smith, the godmother of punk rock, as a character gave an interesting perspective. This book is definitely only for mature audiences, and I would recommend it for a patient reader, as it is not saturated with action.

Kate Prendergast is a sophomore in the academically gifted program at Hahnville High. She enjoys acting, dancing, learning and reading and is a member of the Hahnville Hi-Steppers.

Editor’s note: Book reviews are published weekly during the summer in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program.



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