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When I Grow up: A Memoir Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From her humble beginnings as a Berklee College of Music piano student to her brief critical success in the 1990s alternative rock explosion to her latest side project, Some Girls, first-time author Hatfield chronicles more than three storied decades in professional music. Alternating between a present-day cross-country tour and recollections from earlier years, the result is a mixed, overstuffed bag. Hatfield, raised, trained and tested (first as pop trio Blake Babies) in Boston, charmingly recollects her experience as a serious female musician with no desire to appear sexualized before her audience; readers will cringe alongside her as she awkwardly rejects a hotel room photo-shoot suggestion: "Why did they always want me to jump up and down on the bed? Were photographers constantly nudging Kurt Cobain to jump up and down on beds?" Hatfield makes a compelling witness to the alternative rock boom ushered in by Nirvana's success, and is both lucid and thorough explaining the bureaucratic minutiae of the music industry's new world order, dominated by the massive influence of star-maker Clear Channel. As a writer, Hatfield is humble and personable, if at times tedious; a clunky, symbolic prologue-about being unable to buy a pre-show shot of Patron with her club-issued drink tickets-is an early indicator of the book's need for further edit. Still, fans of Hatfield's bratty, bedeviled pop stylings should enjoy these glimpses into her life.
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From Booklist

Musician Hatfield, former member of the Blake Babies, recalls both her 15 minutes of fame in the early 1990s and her current, considerably less-glamorous life as a touring musician. Now in her early thirties, Hatfield is seriously considering hanging up her guitar after experiencing once again the discomforts of bad food, cramped dressing rooms, unreliable vans, and sparse crowds. The lure of music, making it and performing it, is what keeps her going, and she devotes many interesting chapters to the creative process, relaying both what has sparked the writing of her songs and how re-creating the sound in her head while onstage is somewhat like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. In her attempt to give readers an unfettered look at a working musician’s life, she sometimes suffers from TMI—her rants on the hardships of being a vegetarian and her petty feuds with coworkers do not exactly rivet one to the page or engender much sympathy. She does, however, adequately convey the pure joy she takes in her craft and the thrill of connecting to an audience. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470189592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470189597
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on August 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A disclaimer: I've been madly in love with Juliana Hatfield's music since I was in high school, in the "find an excuse to leave work at 10 in the morning and buy her new album the day it comes out when the stores open" sort of way. This makes it highly unlikely that I'm capable of delivering a fully unbiased view of this book.

Having gotten that out of the way, "When I Grow Up" is a refreshing snapshot of a musician whose career, by all commercial measures, has been on the decline for well over a decade. Hatfield does not present the sort of tawdry, polished trash that most memoirs by rock artists put out-- there's no ghost writer, there's no glamor. But there is something entirely different-- a lot of grit, a lot of hope and a lot of fragility.

Splitting the chapters largely between non-linear biographical reflections and a detailed account of her US tour promoting Gold Stars 1992-2002, it's largely a story of a shy and somewhat neurotic young woman thrust into a dirty, grimy world of touring rock clubs-- unclean hotels, poor sound systems and creepy fans. And as a fan of Hatfield's music, it's entirely what I'd hope it would be-- well written, engaging and brutally honest. Hatfield does not hide from herself, from her failings, weaknesses and problems, but rather presents them, not as some romanticized presentation of the perils of the rock and roll life, but rather as the everyday troubles of someone trying to live their life and get past their own frailties.

I've been trying to think, as I set out to write this review, if this is something for someone who isn't into Hatfield's music, and I think the answer is a distinct maybe.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By JSG on January 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is recommended for fans of Juliana Hatfield and readers who'd like to get a glimpse of the "inner workings" of an artist. I have a lot of Juliana's CDs as well as a few Blake Babies efforts and I enjoy her music from time to time. After reading this book, I can't say much surprised me re: Juliana and her thoughts. A fan of hers can glean this from her recordings.

The book is surprisingly well-written. It's a quick read - but one you don't want to end. In the "readability" department, it's a 5-star book. Juliana is a natural and talented writer. She's very articulate and expressive as well as observant and pretty darn funny. She'd be a great music critic or columnist in a music related magazine. She also excels at social commentary - making wry observations as she travels the country on tour.

As mentioned in other reviews, the chapters alternate between her tour at the time of the writing and meaningful events in her past. It's slightly annoying at first - you'd like her to expound on how the Blake Babies picked up momentum and got signed and so forth, but instead of that the next chapter picks up on tour again. Is it really necessary to know about each club and what her memories are of the audience and the food spread from show to show? I think it was easier for her to fill the book via her journals. I wish she'd gone the autobiography route - She really leaves the reader begging for more autobiographical info. Read the chapters that go beyond the tour and you'll see what I mean. As I read through the book I found myself asking questions re: her food intake, outlook on life and business acumen. Some of these questions were answered towards the end of the book.

It's hard to comment on the book without criticizing Juliana herself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like many other reviewers, I'm a Juliana Hatfield fan, and was eager to read her book, as well as curious that she had written a memoir. But it seems that she has written two memoirs in one, and one is fascinating, while the other is rather tedious. Hatfield chose to split her memoir into alternating parts, one documenting a tour with her band Some Girls, one from her childhood through her first band The Blake Babies and later success on the alt/indie rock circuit with hits like "My Sister."

What redeems this book is Hatfield's spot-on look at some of her more troubling moments and thoughts. The anxiety and depression she faces are laid out starkly, plainly, in ways that could never be accused of glamorizing her profession. She gives the inside scoop on shooting the cover of popular teen magazine Sassy, both how honored she was to be featured, but the downside of fame, being made up and ultimate posing with her guitar, rather than playing it.

When she describes her anorexia, it's familiar to anyone who's suffered from an eating disorder, and Hatfield deserves kudos for her unfiltered delivery. It's clear by the end that she is not trying to impress anyone, but simply using the form of memoir as another way to communicate. It's also clear that music not only saved her, but is something she continues to feel driven to do, which makes her ambivalence about the industry, despite the many pitfalls and problems she describes, frustrating.

The book is marred, however, by way too many details about the life of a traveling musician, ones that lose impact upon repetition. Hatfield seems to find no hotel room too dirty, no rock club too scuzzy, not impending tantrum worth skipping over in favor of the narrative.
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