Since starting @the_northern_bookworm, I've decided I want to start sharing my thoughts on some of the books I read. I love Canada and my life in the north, and I've been sharing lots about that online, but I also love books and I haven't really done a lot of communicating about that. So, here it goes...
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I didn’t like Jewel’s music growing up. I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and Shania Twain. And, if it wasn’t one of those two playing on the stereo, it was something Motown. My mom loves Motown. Because of that, I was never exposed to Jewel and, when I did hear her, her sound wasn’t my thing. She was too folk-y and too different. And, since I didn’t listen to her music, I never really learned much about her or what her story was. I knew Bruce and Shania both came from little and led very interesting lives. I mean, Shania was my idol. I didn’t know Jewel had a story too, and I didn’t really care. That is, until I was looking for a book last winter.
It was the depth of winter and my horse had recently died. I was devastated. We’d been together for 16 years. We became partners when we were both 12 years old and we grew up to the fabulous age of 26 together. He was there through first loves and heartbreaks, multiple schools, countless injuries, first jobs, gained and lost friends… He was my number one guy. He also dedicated himself to teaching me to remember that age was just a number – he acted like he was six right up until his last day. So, when he got sick and died unexpectedly, I was heartbroken. To comfort me, my dear friend took me to Chapters, bought me a Starbucks tea, and perused the aisles for hours to help me find a book that would keep my mind from thinking too much about the tough decision I’d had to make when the vet called to give me the very bleak and limited options.
But I couldn’t find a book! I never have that problem. I usually have to spend more time cutting down my stack than building it. We went up and down every aisle and looked at every table, but I just couldn’t find anything I wanted to read. I always love a Michael Connelly book or trashy romance when I’m in need of a distraction, but Connelly didn’t have anything new out and I couldn’t find a romance novel I cared for. That’s when I saw Jewel’s book. Not only is there a cute horse on the cover, but Jewel is riding bareback in a beautiful dress and looking absolutely stunning. And the title is Never Broken. It seemed perfect so I picked it right up. It was only in hardcover so it definitely wasn’t the cheapest option, but I wanted it. I read the reviews on the back by the likes of Neil Young and Loretta Lynn, then the inside flap, and I thought, Hmmm, I might like this. Maybe I should get it and try reading it? I rarely read nonfiction and I had never read a biography or autobiography. I’d tried, but they never hooked me. This one did.
Like I said, I had no idea what Jewel’s story was nor did I think she really had one (even though I know everyone does). I’d never heard anything about her life so I guess I assumed there wasn’t much to tell. But, MAN, does she have a story. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t get into specifics (if you’re curious, read the book or check out Wikipedia), but she has coped with what many of us couldn’t imagine would lead to fame. It’d be hard to make up her story and make it believable… It’s that kind of story. She’s lost everything. She’s hit rock bottom and fought her way up. She’s been lied to and cheated by those she should be able to trust the most. She was born and raised in the middle of nowhere. And now she’s a household name. And, throughout it all, she’s learned the most fascinating ways of coping and understanding her situation, most of which stem from being really and truly honest with yourself.
In short, her self-awareness is refreshing and her humility is inspiring. Even if you’re not a Jewel fan… maybe even ESPECIALLY if you’re not a Jewel fan… this book is a must-read. It’s a crazy story that is written with such poetic honesty that you can’t stop turning the pages because she makes you feel like you're seeing into her soul. I loved it so much that I read it everywhere and now it looks a bit more than tattered. It dropped in the water a few times, got sand between the pages, ran through a thunderstorm, got bleached in the sunshine…. I just wanted to keep reading. It’s that good.
Warning: After reading Never Broken, you might gain a deep appreciation for her lyrics and her sound, and you might become a Jewel fan.