Author: Caroline Stellings
Publisher: Second Story Press
Published Date: September 13th 2016
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Music
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
The year Louisiana – Easy for short – meets Janis Joplin is the year everything changes. Easy is a car mechanic in her dad’s shop, but she can sing the blues like someone twice her age. So when she hears that Janis Joplin is passing through her small town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Easy is there with her heart - and her voice - in hand. It’s 1970 and Janis Joplin is an electrifying blues-rock singer at the height of her fame – and of her addictions. Yet she recognizes Easy’s talent and asks her to meet her in Texas to sing. So Easy begins an unusual journey that will change everything.
"I don't think anyone's life really begins at birth. being born is just a technicality. Everyone chooses a certain moment, a particular experience from which they look ahead, and to which they return, time and again, wondering if life would have been different had that one incident never occurred."
Easy is a mechanic by day and an aspiring blues singer at night. She works alongside her father everyday and because of this has heard horror stories about her parents early life in the southern states before they moved to Canada. This doesn't stop Easy's dream of becoming a singer though it only makes her want to do it more, and to show her parents how things have changed now that it's the 70's.
When Easy meets her idol Janis Joplin one night and help her out, she is offered an opportunity to sing for her in Texas. With the help of some nuns she starts on a road trip that will take her to Texas and show her how things really haven't changed that much since her parents time.
"Think of all the black singers that would have given their right arm to sing at Threadgill's but weren't allowed in the door. Bessie Smith wouldn't have been allowed to sing there. Billie Holiday would have been tossed out with the garbage. Janis, now she glorifies these women right down to their faults, their addictions. You can go that route, Easy. Or you can honor them another way- by standing for something."
I loved Easy's character, she was headstrong and sassy, but yet still incredibly naive and missed things that were right in front of her. While in Canada racism was present for her, it wasn't as big of a problem as it was in the states. Nor did she expect things to be as bad as they were in Texas & Louisiana as they were when she got there. You can tell this really affected not only her but also the Nun she was traveling with.
Now for the Nuns: Marsha was a character that at first you will dislike with a passion, but as you get to know her story and why exactly she wants to be a nun. You start liking her and see that her life wasn't as easy as it appeared to be.
"Humility isn't an abstract virtue, Marsha. It's an absolute necessity if you plan on mission work. You can't expect to help anyone in this world if you're up on a cloud somewhere."
The other Nun we get to see for awhile, but I never really felt anything towards her besides her small friendship that she made with Easy along the road-trip.
This book deals with multiple different issues: Racism, cheating parent, white birth mother, and dreaming. It deals with all of these things in a easy to understand way and makes you feel for all of the people involved in these situation.
"I remember Thelma telling me that pearls are the result of sand getting into the shell of an oyster. The irritation is what makes the silky fluid flow.""So?""She said it's like trouble in your life. Without it, you don't amount to much. Without something abrasive, you never find out what you're made of."
Now I'm not going to lie I really didn't know much at all about how racism was/is in Canada or how different it hopefully was from what was happening here in America during that time. I also knew nothing about Janis Joplin besides the fact that she was a singer, that died from drugs/alcohol like so many in the 70's & 80's.
While I can see how some people say this feels like Janis Joplin fan fiction, it is also so much more and should NOT just be thrown into that category. It's about dreaming and maturing and realizing what your willing to give up to live those dreams. Or if your not willing at all to compromise everything you've been taught for just a shot at possibly getting that dream.
Was this book perfect no, but it talked about things we are still dealing with today sadly. It showed how awful hatred can be, and how we sadly haven't gotten very far on treating each other how we would want to be treated.
"I learned...well, I learned not to hate anyone. Let's just say I learned what hate can do. And it frightened me."
After reading this one I want to read more of Stellings book and see how she handles other topics.
Thank you to Second Story Press and Netgalley for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.