I've always loved Jann Arden--her wistful songs in that haunting voice, how she cracks me up on the Rick Mercer show. Now I love her books, and and stayed up late last night to finish this one. She writes like she talks--in your face. Very real. Lots of quirky details. I wasn't the only one watching Romper Room waiting forever for Miss Betty with the magic mirror to say, "I see Jan/n!" And my sister wasn't the only kid that got stuck in the milkbox. One thing I realized--Jann was not an overnight star--what a work ethic, writing songs while figuring out a way to live, even if it meant gutting salmon on the high seas or buying KD, three for a looney. One thing that really touched me was her loyalty to her family through all the sadness and pain, when her dad was still drinking and her older brother was on the fast-track to disaster. Jann's relationship with her mom is awe-inspiring--I can see where the song, Good Mother, comes from. This book is a beautiful memoir.
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!
I, like most others that purchased Jann's book, am a huge fan of hers. I've seen her in concert numerous times, purchased the majority of her albums and watch almost every tv performance she is on. So naturally, when her book came out, I purchased it. I really struggled to get through the first four plus chapters of the book. It was dry, repetitive and dragged on. My only motivation for persevering through it was that I was so excited to read about her journey into the music business. Yes, several small events in her life eventually lead to that, but those events could have been summed up in a few chapters. The book doesn't begin to get truly interesting until about chapter 12.... so be prepared for 11 monotonous chapters before you get to the good stuff! Jann will always be one of my favourite singers, but unfortunately I won't be adding her to my list of favourite authors anytime soon.
Jann's first two books (which are also hilarious) where about her struggle through her adult life. This is the first time she really tackles her sometimes funny, sometimes sad, childhood. Anyone that would like to know what shaped this wonderful woman will get a lot from Falling Backwards. Highly recommended.
Simply put, I loved this book! Loved reading about her childhood and how she got her first record deal along with everything in between. Laughed out loud while reading this book and was teary at the end. Can't say there was anything I disliked about this book.
I love, love, love this book. I enjoyed Jann's other books too, but this one is so amazingly open that it touched me deeply, and also made me realize I am not alone when it comes to some of my own childhood experiences. I am purchasing copies of this book for all of my girlfriends.