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If you’re looking for an immersive and poignant listening experience, then the audiobook version of Patti Smith’s memoir, “Just Kids,” is a must-listen. This audiobook captures the soulful spirit of the book in a way that words on a page simply can’t match.

Smith’s vivid and poetic writing comes to life in the audiobook, read by the author herself, allowing listeners to truly immerse themselves in the world of the 1970s New York City art scene.

Key Takeaways:

  • The audiobook version of “Just Kids” provides a deeply immersive listening experience.
  • Patti Smith’s poetic writing is captivatingly read by the author herself.
  • The audiobook transports listeners to 1970s New York City.
  • “Just Kids” is a compelling memoir that explores themes of love, art, and creativity.
  • The memoir has been warmly received by both critics and readers alike.

About the Author, Patti Smith

Patti Smith is an American artist, musician, and writer, born in Chicago on December 30th, 1946. Smith began her career as a performer in the 1970s, gaining national attention with her debut album “Horses” in 1975. She has since released twelve studio albums, toured extensively, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Smith has also published several books, including “Just Kids,” which won the 2010 National Book Award for Nonfiction. In addition to being a musician and writer, she is also a visual artist, utilizing mediums such as painting, photography, and mixed media.

Throughout her career, Smith has maintained a reputation as a countercultural icon and an advocate for free expression and political activism.

Patti Smith’s Early Life and Influences

Smith was raised in New Jersey and attended Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University) before moving to New York City in 1967. It was there where she met Robert Mapplethorpe, the subject of her memoir “Just Kids” and a lifelong friend and creative collaborator.

As a young artist in the 1970s, Smith was heavily influenced by the Beat Generation writers, particularly Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. She also drew inspiration from rock and roll legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.

“I started listening to Bob Dylan in the summer of 1965, and that was a revelation…I was fourteen, and I’d never heard anyone who sang with such beauty and authority.” – Patti Smith

Smith’s Career and Legacy

Smith’s music and writing have been critically acclaimed since the start of her career, with “Horses” being recognized as one of the greatest albums of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and Time.

In addition to her artistic accomplishments, Smith has also been recognized for her activism, particularly in the areas of environmentalism and LGBTQ+ rights.

Just Kids and Smith’s Writing Career

“Just Kids,” Smith’s memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and their experiences in New York City’s art and music scenes, was published in 2010 to widespread critical acclaim. The memoir won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

“Just Kids” solidified Smith’s reputation as a writer and demonstrated her ability to create compelling and evocative prose outside of her music.

Overview of “Just Kids”

“Just Kids” is a memoir written by musician, poet, and artist Patti Smith. The book was first published in 2010 and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. The memoir covers Patti Smith’s early years in New York City, particularly her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who she met when she was 20 years old in 1967. The book offers a glimpse into the artistic and cultural milieu of New York City during the late 1960s and 1970s.

The narrative structure of “Just Kids” is non-linear, with the timeline shifting back and forth between different periods of Smith’s life. The memoir weaves together personal anecdotes, reflections on art and music, and historical moments, creating a tapestry of the era and the artistic communities that Smith was a part of.


The central themes of “Just Kids” include artistic expression, creativity, friendship, love, and loss. Through her relationship with Mapplethorpe and others, Smith explores the push and pull between artistic ambition and personal relationships, as well as the sacrifices and compromises artists must make to bring their vision to life.

Historical Context

“Just Kids” takes place during a transformative period in American and global history, when significant social and cultural changes were taking place. The book immerses readers in the sights and sounds of New York City during this period, from the Warhol factory to the Chelsea Hotel, providing an intimate portrait of an era of artistic experimentation and cultural upheaval.

Narration and Performance

The audiobook version of “Just Kids” presents a unique listening experience through its excellent narration and performance. Narrated by the author herself, Patti Smith’s voice fills the story with authenticity and emotion, transporting listeners to 1970s New York City.

The deep passion and understanding that Smith has for her own work is palpable through every word spoken. Her voice captures the youthful energy and optimism of the characters, grounding them in reality and engaging the listener to share in their struggles and triumphs.

The performance of “Just Kids” is further enhanced by the use of sound effects, music and natural noises that are woven in at key moments. This feature evokes a sense of place and helps to create the atmosphere of the memoir.

The narration and performance of the audiobook version of “Just Kids” truly brings the story to life in a vivid and intimate way, allowing the listener to be immersed in the world of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe as they embark on their journey of self-discovery.

Storytelling and Pacing

“Just Kids” by Patti Smith is not just a memoir but a beautifully crafted story that utilizes various storytelling techniques to keep the reader engaged. The narrative structure is linear, with Smith’s memories starting from 1967, meeting Robert Mapplethorpe, and following through their journey in New York City. The pacing is exceptional, with just the right amount of exposition and introspection, interspersed with vivid descriptions of the people, places, and events that shape the story.

One storytelling technique that stands out is Smith’s use of sensory details. Through her descriptions, the reader can taste the coffee at the Chelsea Hotel, smell the incense burning at Max’s Kansas City, and see the artwork hanging on the walls of the Museum of Modern Art. This added layer of sensory experience immerses the reader in the world of “Just Kids” and makes the story even more compelling.

Another technique used effectively is the inclusion of personal artifacts, such as photographs, letters, and song lyrics. These artifacts give the reader deeper insight into Smith and Mapplethorpe’s lives and relationship, making the story even more poignant.

The pace of the memoir is steady, building towards the final chapter in a way that feels natural and satisfying. Smith’s writing is both poetic and straightforward, striking a balance that is both entertaining and informative. The result is a story that is moving, inspiring, and unforgettable.

Character Development

One of the most impressive aspects of “Just Kids” is the authentic, nuanced character development throughout the memoir. Patti Smith’s vivid descriptions and intimate portrayals of the people in her life create a captivating reading experience. In particular, Smith’s own character arc, as she evolves from a struggling artist to a confident, successful performer, is a striking aspect of the book.

The most notable character development, however, is the relationship between Smith and artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Their deep bond is at the heart of “Just Kids,” and the memoir is a testament to their enduring connection. As Smith navigates through personal and creative challenges, Mapplethorpe is her unwavering support. Smith traces their relationship from their first meeting to the moment Mapplethorpe dies, showing how they both grew and changed alongside each other.

The character development of these two artists prompts profound contemplation on love, loss, and loyalty. “Just Kids” is not just a memoir; it is a meditation on the development of identity and what it means to maintain a sense of oneself while navigating the challenges of life.

Setting and Atmosphere

One of the most captivating aspects of “Just Kids” is its vivid portrayal of the setting and atmosphere of 1970s New York City. Patti Smith’s poetic descriptions transport listeners into the heart of the bustling city, with its vibrant music scene, bohemian art galleries, and lively street culture. From the Chelsea Hotel to CBGB’s, each location is masterfully captured, immersing the listener in a rich tapestry of sights and sounds.

Moreover, the audiobook’s narration by the author herself adds to the immersive experience, as Patti Smith’s voice brings an extra layer of authenticity and intimacy to the story. Her soft, raspy voice paints vivid images, conveying the mood and emotions of each scene.

Whether you are a fan of New York City or not, “Just Kids” transports you to the 70s through its expertly crafted setting and atmospheric details. You’ll feel as though you are walking alongside Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe as they navigate their way through the city, pursuing their artistic dreams.

Themes and Impact

In “Just Kids,” Patti Smith touches on a variety of themes that resonate with listeners of all backgrounds and ages. Central to the memoir is the theme of love, as Smith explores her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, their unwavering devotion to one another, and the challenges they faced as young artists in New York City.

Friendship is another key theme that runs throughout the memoir, as Smith reflects on her close bond with Mapplethorpe, as well as her relationships with other artists and musicians, such as Sam Shepard and Tom Verlaine.

The pursuit of creative dreams is a central thread of the memoir, as Smith and Mapplethorpe strive to establish themselves as artists against a backdrop of poverty, hardship, and societal expectations. Their struggles embody the challenges and rewards of pursuing a creative life with passion and dedication.

Finally, the theme of art is woven into every aspect of “Just Kids,” as Smith reflects on her own growth as an artist, her collaborations with Mapplethorpe, and the broader cultural context of New York City in the 1970s.

The impact of these themes is far-reaching, as they resonate with audiences across generations and backgrounds. By exploring the universal experiences of love, friendship, creativity, and art, “Just Kids” offers a poignant and inspiring portrait of the human experience.

Critical Reception and Awards

Upon its release, “Just Kids” received critical acclaim from numerous publications, cementing its place as one of the most celebrated memoirs of all time. The New York Times Book Review hailed the book as a “moving and beautiful tribute to the power of art,” while The Guardian praised Patti Smith’s prose as “exquisite and evocative.”

The memoir also garnered several prestigious literary awards, including the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2010 and the NME Award for Best Book in 2011. In addition, “Just Kids” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 2011, further solidifying its place in literary history.

Awards and Nominations

Award Year Category Result
National Book Award 2010 Nonfiction Winner
NME Award 2011 Best Book Winner
Pulitzer Prize 2011 Biography or Autobiography Finalist

“Just Kids” is a breathtaking memoir that captures the heart and soul of 1970s New York City and the vibrant artistic community that thrived within it. Patti Smith’s prose is nothing short of extraordinary, and it’s no wonder that the book has received the critical acclaim and prestigious awards that it has. A must-read for anyone interested in art, culture, and the power of creative passion.”


In conclusion, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith is a riveting memoir that tells the story of two young artists pursuing their dreams in 1970s New York City. The audiobook version is expertly performed and brings the story to life through its vivid narration and atmospheric details.

Smith’s memoir is a testament to the enduring power of art, friendship, and creative passion. The audiobook is a must-listen for fans of Smith’s work and anyone interested in the creative spirit of 1970s New York.

Experience the compelling world of Patti Smith’s memoir, “Just Kids,” through our comprehensive audiobook review. Explore the vibrant characters, rich setting, and central themes of this poignant memoir that chronicles Smith’s relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in 1970s New York City.

The audiobook version, narrated by Smith herself, brings the story to life with her distinct voice and passionate performance. Dive into our in-depth analysis of the narration, storytelling, character development, and critical reception of “Just Kids.”

Key Takeaways

  • The “Just Kids” audiobook, narrated by Patti Smith, brings the memoir to life with her passionate performance.
  • The storytelling techniques and pacing in “Just Kids” contribute to the overall impact of the memoir.
  • Through rich setting and atmospheric details, “Just Kids” transports listeners to 1970s New York City.
  • The memoir explores central themes such as love, friendship, art, and chasing creative dreams.
  • “Just Kids” received critical acclaim and awards, solidifying its enduring significance.

About the Author, Patti Smith

Patti Smith is an American musician, poet, and artist born in Chicago, Illinois in 1946. She rose to fame in the 1970s, known for her unique blend of punk rock and poetry. Throughout her career, Smith has released over ten albums and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Aside from her music career, Smith is also renowned for her writing. Her first book, Seventh Heaven, was published in 1972, followed by several poetry collections and memoirs, including Just Kids, which won the National Book Award in 2010. Smith has also been honored with numerous awards and accolades for her contributions to the arts.

Overview of “Just Kids”

“Just Kids” is a powerful memoir by Patti Smith that recounts her formative years in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s. The book documents her unique relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, her struggles as a young artist and performer, and the cultural and artistic landscape of the era.

Smith’s memoir is a poignant reflection on youth, love, and the pursuit of creativity in a city marked by social, cultural, and political upheaval. Through her vivid storytelling, Smith illuminates the deeply personal and political dimensions of art, romance, and identity in a society in flux.

The memoir won the National Book Award in 2010 and has since attained cult status as an emblematic work of the era.

Themes in “Just Kids”

“Just Kids” is a multifaceted exploration of several central themes, including:

  • The transformative power of art and creativity
  • The pursuit of love and companionship
  • The challenges and heartaches of youth and coming of age
  • The intersection of personal and political identity
  • The role of memory and nostalgia in shaping personal narratives.

Narrative Structure

Smith’s memoir is structured as a nonlinear chronicle of her life and experiences with Mapplethorpe. The book is divided into chapters that explore different periods of time and key events in their respective artistic and personal journeys.

The book’s structure reflects Smith’s introspective and meandering narrative style, as well as her interest in evoking the moods and emotions of the time and place in which she lived.

Historical Context

“Just Kids” takes place against the backdrop of the cultural and social changes that defined New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s. These changes were marked by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the emergence of new and experimental forms of art, music, and literature.

Smith’s memoir offers a unique perspective on the cultural and political climate of the time, as well as its impact on young artists and performers like herself and Mapplethorpe.

Narration and Performance

One of the standout elements of the audiobook version of “Just Kids” is the superb narration and performance by the author herself, Patti Smith. Smith’s distinctive voice and cadence lend an additional layer of authenticity to this already engaging memoir.

“As a listener, you feel like you are sitting in a room with Patti Smith as she recounts her memories of 1970s New York City, her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and the creative struggles they faced together. Her narration truly immerses you in the story.”

In addition to Smith’s narration, the audiobook also includes audio recordings from the era, such as music and poetry readings, providing an even greater sense of immersion in the world of “Just Kids.”

Storytelling and Pacing

The storytelling techniques and pacing utilized in “Just Kids” are a testament to Patti Smith’s profound literary aptitude. Through her engaging prose, Smith utilizes elements of imagery, symbolism, and sensory experience that invoke tangible emotions and resonate with listeners. She paints a vivid picture of New York City in the 1970s, immersing readers in a time when creative expression and personal freedom were at their peak.

Smith’s use of pacing is also impeccable in “Just Kids.” The memoir ebbs and flows like a melody, reaching crescendos of excitement and falling into meditative lulls. This approach ensures that the listener is consistently engaged in the story while allowing for moments of reflection.

The combination of effective storytelling and pacing in “Just Kids” creates an intimate atmosphere that makes listeners feel like they are in the story alongside the characters. This approach is particularly poignant in audiobook format, as the narrator’s pace and inflection can greatly impact the listener’s enjoyment of the story.

Character Development

“Just Kids” provides readers with a personal and in-depth view of Patti Smith’s relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe and their growth as individuals. Throughout the book, Smith demonstrates her own character development, showing how she transforms from being a naïve young woman to an established musician and artist in her own right.

However, the growth of Mapplethorpe is equally compelling. Although initially seen as shy and introverted, Mapplethorpe ultimately transforms into a confident and provocative artist who pushes the boundaries of artistic expression. His growth will keep readers engaged and inspired.

The memoir also contains a cast of influential characters from the art world of the 1970s, including Andy Warhol and Sam Shepard, each with their own unique character development that contributes to the book’s rich tapestry.

“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.”
– Patti Smith, Just Kids

Setting and Atmosphere

The setting and atmosphere of “Just Kids” transport listeners to 1970s New York City, rich with artistic fervor, bohemian lifestyle, and the pursuit of creative dreams. Patti Smith’s vivid descriptions of the cityscape, its streets, cafes, and clubs, create a palpable sense of place and time. Through her precise attention to detail, we can imagine ourselves wandering through the bustling city streets, catching glimpses of Warhol and his entourage at Max’s Kansas City, or joining Smith and her lover, Robert Mapplethorpe, during their exploration of Central Park. The sonic landscape of the audiobook, enriched with Smith’s own voice and the music of the time, further immerses the listener in the vibrant atmosphere of the memoir.

Patti Smith’s memoir captures not only a specific moment in New York’s history but also the creative spirit, intense emotions, and personal struggles that defined it. The setting and atmosphere of “Just Kids” lay the foundation for a captivating story that can transport its audiences to another time and place, offering a unique perspective on life, art, and love.

Themes and Impact

“Just Kids” is a poignant memoir that delves into themes such as love, friendship, creativity, and self-discovery. Patti Smith’s eloquent prose invites the reader to share in her experiences and emotions, taking us on a journey of growth and transformation. Through the lens of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, we witness the blossoming of two artistic souls, their struggles, and their triumphs.

The impact of “Just Kids” is far-reaching, resonating with readers from diverse backgrounds and generations. Its message of perseverance and following one’s dreams touches on universal human experiences. Patti Smith’s memoir is a celebration of the artistic spirit and the creative pursuit, inspiring readers to forge their path fearlessly.

“Smith’s luminous prose delves deep into her memories of daily adventures and inspirations in the late 1960s and early ’70s art scene… A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, Smith’s prose is by turns playful and haunting, and Just Kids is a substantial achievement from a singular talent.” – Publishers Weekly

Critical Reception and Awards

Upon its release in 2010, “Just Kids” received critical acclaim from literary scholars, music critics, and general audiences alike. The memoir was praised for its vivid and emotional storytelling, evocative setting, and nuanced character development. Many critics noted Smith’s skillful ability to capture the essence of the New York City art scene of the 1960s and 1970s.

“Just Kids” went on to win several prestigious awards, including the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography. The memoir has also been named a New York Times Best Seller.


Overall, the critical reception and accolades bestowed upon “Just Kids” are a testament to the memoir’s enduring impact on listeners and readers alike.


In conclusion, Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” audiobook is a masterful memoir that captures the heart and soul of 1970s New York City. Through the vivid storytelling, immersive setting, and dynamic characters, listeners are transported to a world of art, love, friendship, and the pursuit of creative dreams. The narration and performance bring the story to life with incredible authenticity and emotional resonance. The critical reception and awards received are a testament to the impact and enduring significance of “Just Kids.” Whether you’re a fan of Patti Smith or a lover of memoirs, “Just Kids” is not to be missed. This audiobook will leave you feeling inspired, moved, and enriched.


What is "Just Kids" by Patti Smith?

“Just Kids” is a memoir by Patti Smith that chronicles her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe and their experiences in the vibrant New York City art scene of the 1970s. It offers a captivating glimpse into their creative journey and the bohemian culture of the era.

Who is Patti Smith?

Patti Smith is a prominent American singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist. She gained acclaim for her influential role in the punk rock movement and has released numerous albums throughout her career. In addition to her music, Smith is also a talented author, with “Just Kids” being one of her most celebrated works.

What is the narrative structure of "Just Kids"?

“Just Kids” is a memoir written in a linear narrative structure, following the chronological sequence of events from Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s early days in New York City to their eventual success as artists. Smith’s storytelling style is engaging and heartfelt, drawing readers into the intimate world of their friendship and artistic aspirations.

Who narrates the audiobook version of "Just Kids"?

Patti Smith herself narrates the audiobook version of “Just Kids,” infusing her words with her unique voice and passionate delivery. This adds an extra layer of authenticity and intimacy to the listening experience, allowing fans to hear the story unfold in the author’s own words.

How does the narration and performance enhance the audiobook?

Patti Smith’s narration brings a special depth and authenticity to the audiobook version of “Just Kids.” Her emotional connection to the story and her intimate knowledge of the characters make the listening experience truly immersive. It allows listeners to connect with the emotions and experiences of Smith and Mapplethorpe on a more personal level.

What storytelling techniques are employed in "Just Kids"?

“Just Kids” utilizes vivid and poetic language to convey the experiences and emotions of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith’s writing is lyrical, evocative, and filled with beautiful imagery, capturing the essence of their artistic journey and the bohemian atmosphere of 1970s New York City.

How does "Just Kids" explore character development?

In “Just Kids,” Patti Smith provides a deeply personal and introspective exploration of her own character and that of Robert Mapplethorpe. She portrays their growth, dreams, struggles, and the evolution of their relationship over time, offering readers a chance to intimately know and understand these compelling individuals.

How does "Just Kids" evoke the setting and atmosphere of 1970s New York City?

Patti Smith’s vivid descriptions and attention to detail create a rich sense of place in “Just Kids.” She captures the energy, creativity, and grittiness of 1970s New York City, transporting readers to the heart of the bohemian art scene and allowing them to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

What are the central themes explored in "Just Kids"?

“Just Kids” explores themes of love, friendship, artistic expression, the pursuit of creative dreams, and the transformative power of art. It delves into the challenges and sacrifices that artists face, as well as the deep bond between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe that resonates throughout the memoir.

How was "Just Kids" received by critics and audiences?

“Just Kids” received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with many praising Patti Smith’s evocative writing and emotional storytelling. It resonated with both fans of Smith’s music and those interested in the art world of the 1970s. The memoir became a bestseller and has since achieved iconic status as a modern classic.

Has "Just Kids" received any awards or accolades?

Yes, “Just Kids” has received numerous awards and accolades since its publication. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2010 and has been recognized as one of the most significant memoirs of recent years. Its enduring impact on literature and art has solidified its place as a beloved and highly regarded work.

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