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Book Review: “Never Broken” by Jewel

JEWEL IN THE ROUGH: Singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher tells her poetic life story in the emotional memoir “Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story” [Photo courtesy of Parnassus Books]

People living their lives for you on T.V./They say they’re better than you and you agree/He says “Hold my calls from behind those cold brick walls”/Says “Come here boys, there ain’t nothing for free”/Another doctor’s bill, a lawyer’s bill/Another cute cheap thrill/You know you love him if you put in your will but

Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now/Huh huh who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy/And who will save your souls if you won’t save your own?

I remember 1995.

I remember hearing Jewel’s voice on the radio for the first time. I was only 8 years old, and I didn’t understand many things: her voice, her words, her songs. I was too young to appreciate the magnitude behind the radio hit “Who Will Save Your Soul,” or why anyone needed to sing about souls in the first place. It was beyond me. But now I understand.

I finished her wonderful memoir “Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story” about a week ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. What’s more, I don’t want to stop thinking about it.  This book does not follow the usual “celebrity memoir” trajectory. This book is not your typical…well, anything. In fact, even calling this book a “celebrity memoir” feels wrong because quite frankly, celebrities just aren’t this retrospective or this transparently convenient. They’re not this human.

Few books–least of all nonfiction–have this impact on me. This book actually shut off the bothersome noise of the outside world, and brought me to a good place. I took the better part of 5 months to read this book. I am so glad I did, because this manuscript is meant for savoring.

This book has so much to offer and reflect upon, I don’t know where to start. I could start with many things: the music, the rough upbringing, the continuing hardships, the poetry, the conquering of fears, the pleasure and pain, all of which find full, satisfying expression in this memoir. After all, these are the reflections of a battered but unbroken soul. But to lay it all out would deny you the pleasure of reading it for yourself. And I want you to have this pleasure.

Jewel Kilcher is an amazing artist who has endured more than her fair share of turmoil and tribulation. She puts it all out there in this book, and reveals the truth of her character on every page. She does not wipe away the bad bits or hold back any emotion; she embraces her roots and makes peace with her past so convincingly that you see she’s really the whole person. Not just an entertainer or artist. But someone you might actually know, or want to know. Someone who’s trying and struggling and searching, but never ceasing.

Jewel Kilcher is a true creative, and the book discusses every major turning point in her life up until this point, creatively and personally. She covers the good, the bad, the ugly, and does not hide from her imperfections and past mistakes. She flavors this memoir with bits of lyrics and full-length poems that she’s so clearly written from the bottom of her heart. She weaves in motivational sections and chapter titles describing how she’s trying to live her best life and her personal convictions. She inspires with every page. She breaks her life story down with such honesty and grit, how can you walk away not knowing and appreciating this side of Jewel?

What I most appreciate about this book is that it’s so very accessible. While it reminds me that she carries many labels (artist, writer, musician, actor, author, etc.), it also reveals the reality of these labels and the life titles that carry so much more weight for her: (daughter, friend, mother, woman, etc.) I think the word I’m looking for is: perspective. Jewel seems to have perspective.

I never knew she had it so rough. I never knew she was so complex. I never knew how inspirational her story was. I never knew how much I needed Jewel’s wisdom in my life. Read this book, if you want to learn more about the artist, the woman, the human. You won’t be disappointed.

five-stars 5/5 stars to “Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story”





4 thoughts on “Book Review: “Never Broken” by Jewel

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