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229 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY - The Whole Heartbreaking Story of A Lost Soul
I've been a Carpenters fan since age eight when I could hear "Close to You" coming through my older cousin's ear piece on her transistor AM radio. Next came drum lessons in grade five. Karen was my idol and my sisters and I devoured her LPs and cassettes like food groups while learning the art of precise harmonies in the process.

So, news of this latest and...
Published on June 12, 2010 by Blondzilla8

versus
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, well researched, but...
...unfortunately, due to the big wall around the Carpenters, it was difficult for the author to gain a lot of material.

Randy has come a long way from being the host of the online group "Neville Avenue," an all-too-often Richard Carpenter-bashing gathering of Carpenters fans. He has written what is obviously a well-researched labor of love. There were a few new...
Published on August 21, 2010 by Power Pop!


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229 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY - The Whole Heartbreaking Story of A Lost Soul, June 12, 2010
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
I've been a Carpenters fan since age eight when I could hear "Close to You" coming through my older cousin's ear piece on her transistor AM radio. Next came drum lessons in grade five. Karen was my idol and my sisters and I devoured her LPs and cassettes like food groups while learning the art of precise harmonies in the process.

So, news of this latest and wonderful biography had me champing at the bit as soon as I heard about its release.

I could not put this book down. And this did not necessarily serve my sleep well (note to self: do not expect to have a good night's sleep if you read such haunting books). It is a heart wrenching tale of heartbreak, control issues, deceit, and the complete misunderstanding of a soul so old and so sensitive that I could not get through this painfully honest biography without a lot of Kleenex.

To literally slowly kill yourself from self-starvation/anorexia nervosa is a tragedy, but when you read about WHY and HOW it happened to this one of a kind talent, you will want to go out and purchase a ouija board to contact and tell off her mother, Agnes, who was such a bitch and so insensitive and controlling that she made Joan Crawford look like Carol Brady.

Karen had no one on her side when it came to her family; all control freaks (except her pacifist father). She was shoved to the back of the line more often than not and was, despite being at the forefront of the Carpenters with that gorgeous voice, placed and kept firmly in the shadow of her older brother, Richard ("The talented one," says Agnes). Mom would see to that.

We find out in her sad story, however, that Karen DID have some very trusted and supportive friends and I am so happy that we are FINALLY hearing their side of the story. One can only imagine how much they miss their friend whom they tried diligently to save from herself and the negativity which surrounded her.

Lots of great information in this book about specific recording sessions, relationships, song writers, musicians, and wonderful details about the most pivotal events in Karen's life and is required reading for any Carpenters fan as well as anyone who grew up and developed their taste for pop music in the 1970s.

The interviews for "Little Girl Blue" were clearly conducted with care and compassion and the bevy of participants is very impressive. Kudos to Randy Schmidt for being a safe place for everyone to share and tell the real story, unlike the sterilized, sugar-coated versions in previous books which were CONTROLLED by Camp Carpenter. We even get the real story about that slag-heap husband, Tom Burris, who is evil incarnate from their first date. When you read this part of the story, your heart will break. And you'll see how Agnes strikes again in the name of "What will people think?"

On another note, I find it very interesting that when there are controlling parents who ostensibly "mean the best for their (dancing monkey-bread winning) children" and expect "perfection" even as they smile and vehemently deny being "controlling stage parents" (Boones, Osmonds, Carpenters) that an eating disorder (or worse) eventually surfaces within the family. These young women honestly feel as if they have no control over any part of their lives and that they'll never be good enough, so they resort to controlling the one thing that truly belongs to them: their bodies. Sad sad sad.

Read this book, but don't expect to feel happier after you do. You'll play your Carpenters albums during and afterward and never hear Karen's songs in quite the same way.

We can only hope that she's finally at peace wherever she is now - which HAS to be Heaven since she already lived through Hell.

Thanks to Randy L. Schmidt for a wonderful book.
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127 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pain Behind the Smile, June 27, 2010
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
Having previously read Ray Coleman's authorized biography on The Carpenters, The Carpenters: The Untold Story : An Authorized Biography, I came away with the sense there was much much more to the story of Karen Carpenter that was not being told. Previous to Coleman's book, there was the made for tv movie "The Karen Carpenter Story", which obviously was heavily edited by the Carpenter family. Neither gave conclusive, definitive reasons why America's musical sweetheart, Karen Carpenter, died of complications due to anorexia at the young age of 32 in 1983. This thoroughly detailed book by Randy Schmidt unveils the long-hidden reasons behind Karen Carpenter's untimely death. Schmidt wrote this book without interference from Richard Carpenter, so he has complete journalistic freedom to tell the entire story. Richard Carpenter does not contribute to this book (no comments, no interviews), and made no attempt to thwart Mr. Schmidt or censor him in any way. The painful truth of Karen Carpenter is told here.

In the foreward, Mr. Schmidt explains how previous attempts to tell the Karen Carpenter story were stymied by the Carpenter family, specifically Richard Carpenter, in an attempt to subdue an unfavorable light on Karen's mother, Agnes. Understandibly, Mr. Carpenter was protecting his mother, and he disagrees with the view that Agnes Carpenter was a dominant factor in Karen's anorexia. Richard suggests that Karen's anorexia was perhaps genetic in origin, and it would have surfaced whether Karen was a music superstar or "housewife". Perhaps this is true. Karen's anorexia seems to begin when she was asked to leave her drums and front the group by becoming the lead singer. Karen admits that leaving the "safety" of her drums was an extremely hard transition for her. Being in the spotlight in front of thousands of fans (and critics) obviously brings any inherent personality and body-image insecurities to the forefront. Perhaps this factor above all others triggered Karen's descent into anorexia. Researchers know that anorexia has complex origins, including parental control issues, perfectionism, stress, body-image dysfunction, among other factors. It tends to be a condition exhibited by (mostly) caucasian women who have one or more controlling parents, lack self-esteem, are people-pleasers, and are perfectionists. The theory is that these women "discover" anorexia, as it is the only area in their lives in which they have complete control; therefore and ultimately, anorexia becomes a "silent" form of rebellion against the forces that control the individual. Anorexia becomes a desperate attempt to break away from a highly controlled, "boxed-in", emotionally stiffled life.

Karen Carpenter's life shows her intense struggle to break away from the unsatisfactory life she was living. In 1980, she (bravely) made a solo album with Phil Ramone, against the wishes of Richard and Agnes Carpenter. Perhaps this was an attempt by Karen, whether realized or not, to break away from the Carpenter mould and assert her independence (and self-worth)? Was her ill-conceived marriage to Tom Burris in 1980 an attempt to break away from the Carpenter family too? Perhaps. Ultimately, both avenues proved agonizingly fruitless, with her solo album rejected by Richard and A&M record bosses (the album was shelved), and her marriage essentially over within several months of saying "I do". Mr. Schmidt reveals that Mr. Burris received a monetary settlement to not reveal any details about his marriage to Karen. Most likely, Richard Carpenter bought his silence in an attempt to protect Karen's image. More about Mr. Burris later.

In reading this book, I came to realize Karen's life was essentially controlled by other key people in her life. Her professionaly life was tied to Richard, and the family did not support her attempt at a solo album, as it did not include Richard. Therefore, her voice "belonged" to the Carpenters. Since she absolutely adored Richard, she would do nothing to displease him professionally. Her solo album with Phil Ramone (1980) was shelved when Richard and the brass at A&M records discouraged her from publishing it. Mother Agnes Carpenter is depicted as an overbearingly-opinionated, controlling parent, who demonstrably favored Richard at the expense of Karen. According to Karen's anorexia therapist, Steven Levenkron, Karen needed the affirmation of her mother's love, but none was given. Instead Agnes' message was clear: Richard was the "star", not Karen, and without Richard there would be no Karen. Karen's father, Harold, loved Karen dearly, yet, was apparently too passive to stand up to the tirades and demands of wife Agnes, and lacked the emotional will to help Karen during her therapy for anorexia in New York. Husband Tom Burris apparently was a dead-beat liar who conned Karen into believing he was independently wealthy (a requirement of hers in a husband), and then once married, repeatedly "borrowed" thousands of dollars in hand-outs from Karen, and then rejected her completely when she descended into anorexia - calling her a "bag of bones". He also falsely represented his fertility status to Karen, and did not reveal he had a vasectomy until a few days before their wedding! Since Karen wanted children, this was a tremendous blow, and she considered calling off the marriage. However, Agnes told Karen she would get married, as the relatives were flying over for the wedding from overseas! Agnes told Karen - You made your bed - now sleep in it! In other words: I don't care about your feelings Karen, we are going to keep up appearances, stuff the emotions, and put on a brave smile and go on with the wedding. And that is exactly what Karen did.

Finally, is it fair to suggest that perhaps Karen bears some degree of responsibility for her failed anorexia treatment? I state this as a rhetorical question, as I really do not know the answer, but wonder how much responsibility the anorexic has for their disorder. The anorexic acts out her rebellion (not eating) in a highly secretive and disfunctional manner. Anorexia is not a healthy response to the deep-seated emotional control issues that drive this illness. Getting medical help is necessary, therapy to understand the reasons for anorexia, cooperating and having insight in therapy, confrontation of the controlling people and forces - all of these contribute to the healthy recovery of the anorexic. While Karen attempted therapy, it was on her terms, and as this book clearly shows, she was not a cooperative patient. While in therapy, she abused laxatives, was taking (very dangerous) thyroid medication to increase her metabolism, continued to exercise fanatically (briskly walking two miles every day), and just before the end of her life, used ipecac to induce vomiting (purging). Daily use of ipecac is a poison that damages the heart. Perhaps this is what ultimately resulted in the death of Karen Carpenter - self-induced poisoning.

Karen (and Richard) were perfectionists as well, (amazing how many times the word "perfection" is used in this book) and anything which fell short of Karen's perfectionist standards added more stress to her life. Perfectionists are controllers at heart, and wish to control every aspect of their lives, thereby creating the "perfect" life they desire. Perfectionists often feel they need to be perfect to gain love, affirmation, and the positive acknowledgement of others. People-pleasers often sacrifice their own dreams to please those around them. As this book shows quite clearly, Karen Carpenter had all the unfortunate ingredients for an anorexia eating disorder in her life, and it all came together when she was about 23 years of age. Her life is one continual battle with anorexia from that point on until she died just short of her 33rd birthday.

While she wanted nothing more than to live a life free of the controlling factors that hampered her own emotional expression, ulitmately she was unable to do this. This is the sad, but real story behind the "sterilized" public image of America's sweetheart, Karen Carpenter. I am most grateful to Author Randy Schmidt for bringing the truth to light. Several other reviewers have suggested that Mr. Schmidt's book is just a recitation of Ray Coleman's book. I do not see it that way at all. Randy Schmidt's book adds the pertinent details that Ray Coleman was not allowed to write. Both books have their necessary place, but as mentioned, Mr. Schmidt had the literary freedom to express what what has not allowed expression before (i.e. critical comments about the Carpenter family, for example, the comments made by Carpenter secretary Evelyn Wallace)

Fans of Karen Carpenter now know more details into the painful factors that led the sweetest singer of the 1970's, the girl next door, to a premature death. The truth is not pleasent, but I am grateful the truth has been told.

konedog
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful musical legacy but a sad life, May 28, 2010
This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
During their heyday from 1970 - 1976, the Carpenters, or more specifically their image, were often derided as bland, vanilla and uninteresting. Many people who considered themselves hip in the 70s would rarely admit to owning a Carpenters record or even liking them (considering the millions of records sold, many of those who publicly dismissed the group probably had their albums hidden at home.)

But Karen Carpenter's sudden and unexpected death at the age of 32 in 1983 belatedly let the world know that the Carpenters had a much more complicated story than the wholesome images presented by press releases and interviews had let on. As a result, many critics began to revise their opinions about the group's work. Ray Coleman's 1994 authorized biography offered some insights into the Carpenter story as it revealed some criticism of both Richard and mother Agnes, who even through editing came across to readers as difficult. But many complained that the family's participation in Coleman's book hindered the author from telling Karen's full story.

In the new book, Little Girl Blue, Randy Schmidt appears to benefit from Richard's refusal to work with him. That, coupled with the death of Agnes in 1996, seems to have allowed Carpenter associates to speak more freely about their observations of the family. Schmidt also manages to provide perspectives of people missing from Coleman's book. Although she has a relatively small role in the book, I was fascinated that Schmidt interviewed Florine Elie, the family's longtime housekeeper.

As a result of these new interviews, readers get a fuller (and sadder) understanding of Karen. Twenty-seven years after her death, she comes across as a much more complex person than was represented during her lifetime. Part of that complexity appears to derive from being born to older parents who, like many of that generation, placed a premium of emotional investment in their son despite evidence that their daughter had natural talents as a musician that were equal to her brother. Unfortunately, we'll never be sure since those talents didn't receive the same nurturing and encouragement from her mother.

An empty personal life, a short (and what appeared to be a sometimes violent) marriage plus an album that was supposed to represent her quest for artistic and personal independence only to be rejected by both Richard and the record company all seemed to hasten her fatal and sad decline.

Schmidt has an obvious dedication to writing about his subject and does a very good job in relating the desire of Karen's friends to tell what they consider to be her true story. You also feel their anguish and frustration as they relive her decline and mourn what could have become of both the person and the talent.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cover Photo Says It All -- a terrific biography, June 1, 2010
This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
Enormous kudos to Randy Schmidt with this brilliant biography of Karen Carpenter -- beautifully written, meticulously researched, evenhanded throughout (not simply a beat up Richard piece, by any means) but never flinching from the truth. Schmidt, gratefully, didn't have to answer to the Carpenters family in his research and writing; accordingly, this is the definitively honest story of the life of the glorious Karen Carpenter. Schmidt had the generous participation of Karen's closest friends, and while we all know the basic story, there are many revelations to be read here. About the only thing that's not addressed are (i) some direct comments about how Richard has done little over the past two decades other than to fuss and remix with their collaborations, in one unending compilation after another and (ii) what is really left in the vaults that could be released. Those small nit-picks aside, this is a wonderful book -- truthful, detailed, heartbreaking, and direct.

Highest recommendation for anyone who loves Karen and the Carpenters (as well as for anyone else as well). One of the best things I can say about a book is that it doesn't just float out of your mind when you're finished with hits -- LITTLE GIRL BLUE has been resonating with me ever since I finished the last page. A brilliant job.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review, July 31, 2010
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
This book is great. It's hard to do this kind of research and put all the pieces together but Randy executed this task to perfection. It's a work of love and I really appreciate it. The more you read the more you find new things about Karen's life. I thought I knew quite a lot but Little Girl Blue really surprised me.
In my opinion, the highlight of the book is the solo project and especially Karen's marriage. So many questions I had have an answer now.

I don't agree with other reviewers who say the book focuses on the music or not enough on Karen's disease. Karen Carpenter was a famous singer who died of anorexia and everything is covered here including her relationship with Richard and Agnes, her willingness to become an independent woman, her dreams and frustrations. All these things made her the person we all love but ultimately caused her decease.

Richard and Karen made great music. The melodies they created will be treasured forever by many generations.
After all these years Karen still amazes people. Proof of that is the big success of this book. Great work Randy. Thank you for the memories :-)
Fabian
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERFUL BIOGRAPHY, July 4, 2010
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
This is the biography that I have waited 27 years for someone to write. With "Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter," author Randy Schmidt has accomplished what I never thought anyone would or could. He has succeeded in giving us a substantive, poignant, candid, and heartbreaking account of the woman whose ethereal voice captured my heart when I was a teenager, and shattered that heart when she died on February 4th, 1983. After nearly three decades since the still hard to believe death of Karen, "Little Girl Blue" answers all the questions that I've had about her life. For the millions of fans who adored The Carpenters' music, and who still grieve Karen's self-destruction, this may be the book that provides closure for them. Thank you Randy L. Schmidt for writing a biography that does not whitewash the causes that led to the disintegration - and death - of my beloved Karen.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karen's story is finally told, June 14, 2010
By 
barry (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
This review is very difficult for me to write. I was 22 when Karen passed away and had been a true fan since the beginning. I was a member of the fan club and saw them at least six times in concert. It is an undeniable fact that the Carpenters were a duo but it is also a fact that the once in a lifetime magic was Karen, her vocal purity and sparkling personality. Fans adored her. Also the last time I saw them live was on their last concert tour before her death and I was awe-struck by her appearance. It troubled me deeply. You could see from the stage how skeletal she was. It is very true that little was known of anorexia at the time but comments from the family that continuously stated they only thought she had a problem dieting is ridiculous. Whatever the reason, if a family member appears as sickly and gaunt as karen did, you force them to see a doctor and get to the bottom of their problem. You do whatever. This is supposed to be someone you love. Instead they let her go through life covereing her frailty with layers of clothing. When forced to meet with a psychiatrist the mother cared more about being blamed and protecting herself than the welfare of her daughter. Abuse comes in many forms and it is so very sad.

Now to the book LITTLE GIRL BLUE. Randy L. Schmidt does a suberb job of in-depth research and perfect presentation. He has done his homework 110% and luckily Richard chose to not be interviewed for this for finally we get the true story and not the one the Carpenters family approves. Most reading this book are true fans and know the story of their career and also how the parents always paid more attention to Richard. But now all the facts we knew throughout Karen's life are given with all those questions we had answered. And what we get is the story of a gifted rare angel who never found any true joy or happiness in her life. One must remember that she was only 32 when she passed. That is 32 years feeling unloved, that she was not enough and trying to earn love, especially from her mother. Schmidt gives the reader two stories here. We get the in-depth look at how their career started and blossomed. We follow the ups and downs of each single, album and tour. But then we get the human story and it is heartwrenching. Luckily he has the full participation of those who were closest to Karen - her best friends Frenda Franklin and Itchie Ramone, wife of record producer Phil Ramone, Olivia Newton John and family confidant Evelyn Wallace. He also interviewd hundreds of friends as well as people in the history. All the facts given are backed fully and we finally get a look at the whole story.

There are a couple of things that strike me. I remember when Karen got married the ceremony was a huge thing and then nothing more was heard about it. It was as if it never happened. To read of the awful reality that it truly was and the abuse that ensued is no surprise upon reflect but certainly fills one with sadness. Also I remember that upon Karen's death till now any public comments by Richard, Agnes or Harold all spoke of the loss of Karen's talent, voice, music but one never got the true feeling of a family who had lost someone they loved deeply. I fully understand grieving in private but some true emotions always shine through. Not here. Actually the opposite seemed true - always a bit of anger. Schmidt does a perfect job of following the progression of Karen's loosing weight and the progression of her disease. To see her ultimately seek help with no family support is heartbreaking. The story told here is a very sad one but I do feel very happy that Karen did have some people who loved her dearly and accepted her for who she was. These are those mentioned above. Frenda and Itchie in particular. To read of all the turmoil behind being placed second always to Richard, the disaster of her solo album and her failed marriage is just oh so sad. And alas there is nothing to be left to the imagination about the mother - Agnes. She was the base of all the insecurities and feelings of low self esteem and started her daughters life of despair at such a young age. When people say back then parents always favored the sons or emotions were not shown I say it is no excuse for emotional cruelty and abuse. Bottom line is they were angry when Karen's voice became the magic of the Carpenters and never gave her any validation.

I sense the same coldness and lack of validation towards his sister from Richard himself. He always had a deep anger at her ever growing popularity. It is very true that at the beginning of their career his choice of song and production was a huge part of their success. They were matched 50/50 with Karen as to the groups success. But if you look at the Carpenters last albums the early pop rock that was so succesful turned into over-produced adult contemporary music. Just look at the difference between the early SUPERSTAR and RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS to the later TOUCH ME WHEN WE'RE DANCING. Even his attempt at producing DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA was so over the top. He got lost in his own talent and the quality lessened. The only thing that kept on improving was Karen's vocal purity and maturity. Of course he did not want her to do a solo album. That was his worst fear.

Bottom line, this book will fill you with sadness. The story is tragic and Karen suffered so. And shame on anyone who sees someone they love suffering or sick and does not offer them help. The whole family is guilty. The good news is Karen is in heaven with pefect angels and her mother is definitely in a different place. Karma is a beautiful thing. I end by giving the highest kudos again to author Randy L. Schmidt. He had to work with all this emotion, drama, tragedy and history and he did so to provide a seamless true story that while tragic resonates in the magic that was Karen Carpenter. Yes, she had a beautiful voice but it is the person we pray for and hope she is resting in peace. Thank God the music community has put her in her rightful place among the best singers of all time.

This book is highly recommended to all Karen Carpenter fans but also to anyone suffering from anorexia nervosa. It will help sufferers to identify triggers in their own life that they will relate to. Sadly Karen's life and what she endured could be a text book for the illness. It is an emotional disorder and she was put through it all. It is so tragic that her cry for help and love had to take her life. Hopefully God had better plans for her. At last the true story has been told.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT!, November 6, 2011
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Having been a Carpenters fan for 35 years now, having heard all the rumors and having been so upset by Karen's death in 1983, I have been eagerly awaiting a book that finally dealt with the truth, without the confines put upon others (including the movie in 1989) by Richard and her mother. This author does not set out to disparage them in any way, but through alot of research and alot of contact with close friends and confidants of Karen, who have finally chosen to speak, he chooses to tell the truth as it was, pleasant or not, and all I can say is he has done a remarkable job in doing what was previously impossible. It is not sugar coated, and that's what we have all waited so long for. There is a ton of fascinating chapters on how the Carpenters got started, how they recorded, how they dealt with fame, both good and bad, the family, the "inner circle", the home life, the relationships, and of course Karen's horrible disease and untimely death. There's a great deal of information for those of us who like histories of songs/albums, etc. However, this book is truly a great read, IMHO, because of the frank nature of Karen's death and what caused it. And yes, for those of who always thought that Richard, and particularly the mother, were a part of it, this does give insight into the emotional pain Karen was put through by those who claimed to love her the most. Sorry, but if you're a Richard fan, the facts are the facts, unpleasant though it may be. No doubt he loved Karen, but yes....his lack of empathy for her, especially when she recorded her solo album, and his schemes and plans for Karen never to have a chance at a decent relationship are disturbing and dark and say alot about his own failures.

I am a drummer in an all-female rock band (WHISKEY BLU) that enjoyed alot of popularity when we came out in the early 90s and reunited in late 2008. Although I play hard rock/heavy metal drums, Karen was the REASON I picked up my first ragged drumset from a pawn shop when I was a teenager. She was the reason this young girl came out of her shell and wanted to be the best female drummer ever! This book really gave me alot of information on how and why she played the drums. I knew she was a great drummer, but I guess I never really knew HOW GREAT she truly was until I read this book! No matter what, Karen Carpenter brought joy to not only millions of people with her voice, but she gave girls like me the GUTS to do something that was unheard of, even when my band came out in the early 90s. Female drummers are not exactly encouraged, and I was no different. I only knew I wanted to play like Karen. This book not only made me glad I'm a Carpenters fan, but also made me break down in tears knowing how and why she died, and although almost 30 years has passed by since her death, this book brought it all back, so real and so truthfully, that I sat in my house at 2 in the morning crying my eyes out over the fact that I never got to meet her and tell her thanks, I never got to tell her what she meant to me as a drummer, and the world lost the greatest voice it's ever been blessed to have. It's heartwrenching and honest, and this author has written a beautiful, gut wrenching, and interesting book for those of us who love Karen and her music.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Karen Carpenter, July 15, 2010
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
I was exhausted, that is the word, after reading the last page of this Karen Carpenter biography. Getting to know not only the ups and down of her career, but the real person behind those songs was a journey through a lot of emotions. Carpenter's family was not a perfect one - which one is anyway - but she had really great friends who are interviewed for this book and shared a lot of facts before unknown to mostly of Carpenters fans. It is easy to understand better what was behind her tragic death, a very complex life and difficult relation with her family and brother. Specially with her mother. Loaded with great photos - many never before seen - this story is told tastefully and it is indeed a MUST to any Carpenters fan. Little Girl Blue filled every spot that the Coleman's bio left empty and unanswered. Randy Schmidt's work of years to write this book is a true work of love. Carpenter would be really proud that someone finally said the things the way they were.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and heartbreaking, May 10, 2013
By 
HardyBoy64 "RLC" (Rexburg, ID United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Hardcover)
This book has been described as "the real story" of Karen because the author relied heavily on Karen's friends to fill in the story of her life. Richard was not involved at all, which means the author could present the truth. The result are some shocking facts about Richard and especially Karen's mother, Agnes.
The story of Karen's mental illness becomes all the more understandable. The Carpenter family dynamic was cold, oppressive and controling. Karen, unquestionably the most talented of the 2 siblings, didn't stand a chance when compared to Richard from Agnes' perspective. In many ways it's not a stretch to say that Karen Carpenter was killed by her own mother. Read the book and you'll see what I mean.

You should not completely dismiss Ray Coleman's biography, however. I think Coleman's book does a better job at presenting the history of the musical group The Carpenters. This biography does a more complete job at presenting Karen's personal life. Both books are valuable.
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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter
Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter by Randy Schmidt (Hardcover - May 17, 2010)
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