I can't say enough good things about Jann Arden. Besides being a superstar Canadian singer, eight time Juno winner (think Canadian Grammy's), author and radio host, she is one incredibly cool and hilarious woman. So of course I had to pick up her memoir, Falling Backwards, as soon as I saw it.
In the book, Jann shares her pre-celebrity life with stories from her childhood, tales of teenage ups and downs, and the road to making it in the entertainment industry. The book is full of warmth, brilliant insight and moments that will make you laugh until it hurts. What is evident from the first to the last page is who Jann is as a person. She leaps right off the page at you and makes you feel as though you're sitting in a coffee shop chatting with a friend.
She will have you falling down laughing as she talks about her childhood exploits including her penchant for lighting matches, getting her head stuck in the milk chute and having her mother de-worm her using scotch tape. She will have you smiling with understanding as she fondly remembers the teachers who made a difference in her life, spending her summers outdoor with playmates from down the road, and the bad perm that characterizes many a persons high school years. And she will also have a tear or two falling down your cheek as she discusses her father's struggle with alcohol, her experiences with unwanted sexual advances, and her eldest brothers descent into alcohol and drug addiction culminating in a murder charge.
No matter what the subject matter, light or heavy, Jann recounts it all with brutal honesty. She's not looking for a pity party, she's sharing what she's learned from what life has given her, both the good and the bad. The lessons of Jann's life are lessons for all of us. Her family wasn't perfect (who's is?) and they had their struggles but through it all they remained committed to each other and it shows in the person that Jann is today.
Falling Backwards is easily one of my favourite books of the year. It will probably end up being my favourite. I read the book in one day because I just couldn't put it down. It's also the first book this year that I have given 5 stars to on GoodReads (I'm very picky about this designation.) Any Canadian will find this book enjoyable, Jann Arden is one of ours to be extremely proud of, whether you listen to her music or not. And you don't have to be Canadian or even know who Jann is to find the beauty in this book. Jann Arden lays everything bare on the page, she isn't ashamed to be unflinchingly honest, and she is one of the sassiest women out there. Do I really need to tell you to pick up this book?
Thank you to Random House of Canada for providing me with a copy of this book.