Although I knew very little about Patti Smith or the punk rock scene in New York City of the 1970s, I decided to buy this book on the strength of its reviews. Just Kids is not a story about Patti Smith the Legend, but about Patti Smith, a girl from New Jersey who came to New York to find herself. And what a fascinating story it is. With poetic prose, humour and nakedness, Smith recalls her early years in New York City and how, with the mutual love and respect of Robert Mapplethorpe, the foundations of their futures were laid down.
Part of the beauty of her writing is that although we know she will become Patti Smith the Legend, she never conveys a certainty that she will “make it”. Rather, she focuses on her and Mapplethorpe’s hunger to create and to define themselves and their crafts.
Equally fascinating as Smith’s personal story, is the story of New York City in the 1970s. How I would have loved to have been there during that time! She vividly describes the vibrant energy of the blossoming cultural movement and the people who made it and recalls colourful anecdotes of neighbourhoods that have long become gentrified.
I highly recommend this book and I hope it will touch you as it touched me.