Never Broken

The first book I started and finished in 2015 was Jewel Kilcher’s Never Broken. An Alaskan musician who was homeless, roughed it, survived many traumas, a cowboy’s sweetheart, and one of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever read.

I never realized how emotionally insightful Jewel was. She seems emotionally wise for beyond her years. I imagine growing up on a homestead and with her complicated home life, it makes you grow up quickly. She said so many sagacious things that I kept writing down page numbers and the pieces I wanted to remember.

“I watched love and life play out in a million ways, but one of the best things I learned was this: You don’t outrun pain.”

“Greatness is never achieved by trying to imitate greatness of another.”

“True cynics kill themselves. The rest are posers, trying to use clever sarcasm and snarky remarks to hide insecurity and the fear that if they put themselves out there, they will fail.”

“[Fame] was all a projection—fame made me a blank canvas that people projected their love, lust, troubles, self-worth, and desire upon.”

“Words can be said easily but one can’t fake actions.”

“A heart can break only if it’s closed—if it remains open, there is nothing to break.”

“My innocence is not lost—it has been converted into wisdom.”

For such a smart, insightful, driven woman, it astounds me that she didn’t see her mother for what she was (someone with a personality disorder). Love can blind us and Jewel is such a good example of when it happens outside of romantic relationships. So desperate to be loved by a mother, she went with it so she could keep holding on. It was sad but I have no doubt she’s stronger for it and a better mother.

While Jewel went into great detail about the creation of her first album, I felt like she skimmed over all the others. We got to know some of the writing process and what went into certain songs (a lot of the time it was Ty or her mother). But she never talked about finally being comfortable in the studio. When did she stop sounding like Kermit the Frog? (She insists you put down the book, go back and listen to Foolish Games and you’ll hear it.) How did she find a set-up where she could ‘feel’ the music? The way she describes seeing and feeling the music reminded me of synesthesia.

Another thing she was very scant about was her Ty. Jewel gave us a good amount but what about his trip up to the homestead for the first time? We have pictures and a couple of lines but I felt like this merited more of a story. We know almost nothing about the breakup. She hints at it but doesn’t say anything directly. While disappointing, I get it.

This was longer than I expected but Jewel has managed to pack a lot of living into 40 years. I grabbed the book from the library after I heard her promoting it on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me… I had a few of her songs but was never a fan. After reading it I’ve been cashing in all sorts of Viggle points to get her music. I am impressed with the depth of 0304. You don’t often sneak that into a pop song.

I give this memoir 4 out of 5 stars. If you’re at all curious, go read it. While it did not fit into my Richer Reading Life Challenge, I wanted to read it. Maybe it will fit into one of the Casual challenges.

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