Book Review: Just Kids

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By Tsring Dolma
Published November 11, 2021

Patti Smith captures all gritty, alluring aspects of New York during the 1970s. 
 
I recently stumbled upon this book on BookTok, and now I can’t stop reading.
 
Writer, poet, and visual artist Patti Smith recounts her life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during the 1960s-70s, in which enlightenment thinking was accepted and practiced by many. 
 
Born in 1946, Patti would become widely known for fusing poetry and rock ’n’ roll in her musical performances, whereas Robert was acclaimed for incorporating pornographic realms into his photos. From humble beginnings, Patti left her family in New Jersey to move to New York to explore herself artistically. She loved reading and writing and knew that the big city would best suit her needs. Along this journey, she encounters a drifter, college dropout Robert Mapplethorpe. Growing up in Long Island, Robert struggled with his masculinity.  Thus, he moved to Manhattan to focus on art. 
 
While I attest that the memoirs I've read are dull, this book surpassed my expectations. This book is more than just romance and sex; it's about exploring one's sexuality, developing friendships, defying gender norms, seeking knowledge, overcoming adversity, etc. Patti Smith has a way with her words, which allows readers to insert themselves in her world. While reading, I felt like I was alongside Patti and Robert snacking on day-old bread and stew in our shabby East Village apartment, conversing with Billie Holiday at St Mark's Place, visiting the Long Island Carnivals...
 
Patti evokes this bright philosophy of life. Through her eyes, life is what we make of it. One should value the act of living because you'll never know when it's your last. This book is a constant reminder of what should be considered important by society. Who cares if you haven't achieved what others deem as accomplishable? When reading, I realized that I, too, want to foster this philosophy. While I don't want to be a rockstar, I want to live my life to the fullest. 
 
Hopefully, I interested you in reading this book, and if so, I believe you will enjoy it as much as I did. Below is a memorable quote that stuck out to me: 
"A wall of flowers concealing all the tears of a relatively young man with nothing but glory in his grasp. And what he would be grasping is the hands of God drawing him into another garden."