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Truly Jann: Candid, Poignant, and Funny
on January 27, 2012
A long time ago, I read that the more personal you are, the more universal you are. I always thought these words referred to essays and poetry, but I've just learned how well they apply to memoirs, too. Falling Backwards covers Jann Arden's earliest childhood memories, her school life, and the desire to write and play music, those inevitable young adult struggles and, finally, her first recording contract.
I have to be honest and say that I'm a big fan of Jann Arden's music, which is why I received this book for Christmas, plus her latest CD, and a ticket to an upcoming concert. So, if you think I'm biased when I say that I loved this book, I understand.
The book's appeal isn't merely because of its author, though. Jann's voice is strong, authentic, and candid. She talks about some truly uncomfortable experiences in her life that most of us wouldn't share with friends and family, let alone strangers. Secondly, her writing style is terrific: straightforward, fluid, poignant, funny. She has an ear for the rhythm of the written word, which is hardly a surprise given how much time she put in learning to write songs.
Although our childhoods were quite different, (she from the Alberta countryside and me from the Vancouver suburbs), she had experiences I could relate to so closely that it was weird. Here's one: at her parents' first parent-teacher meeting in grade one, Jann's teacher told her folks that Jann "could very well be somewhat retarded". My teacher told my parents that there was something wrong with me because I cut the legs off the picture of the lamb I'd drawn . . . That was the 60's for you. Obviously, many of her memories triggered memories of my own, but maybe that's what great memoirs do. Still, as Jann says, "It's okay to look in the rear-view mirror now and then, but I don't want to stare." Enjoy!