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Society's Child: My Autobiography | [Janis Ian]

Society's Child: My Autobiography

Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at the age of 15, when her soul-wrenching song "Society's Child" became a hit. But this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career. In Society's Child, Janis Ian provides a relentlessly honest account of the successes and failures - and the hopes and dreams - of an extraordinary life.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2013

Grammy Award Winner, Best Spoken Word Album, 2013

Booklist Top 10 Biography Audiobooks

Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at the age of 15, when her soul-wrenching song "Society's Child" became a hit. An intimate portrait of an interracial relationship, "Society's Child" climbed the charts despite the fact that many radio stations across the country refused to play it because of its controversial subject matter. But this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career.

In this fascinating memoir of her more than 40 years in the music business, Ian chronicles how she did drugs with Jimi Hendrix, went shopping for Grammy clothes with Janis Joplin, and sang with Mel Tormé, all the while never ceasing to create unforgettable music.

In 1975, Ian's legendary "At Seventeen" earned two Grammy awards and five nominations. Her next two albums brought her worldwide platinum hits. But after seven albums in as many years, she made a conscious decision to walk away from the often grueling music business. During this period, she struggled through a difficult marriage, which ended with her then husband's attempt to destroy her, and a sudden illness that very nearly cost her her life. The hiatus from music lasted for close to a decade until, in 1993, Ian returned with the release of the Grammy-nominated Breaking Silence. Now, as she moves gracefully into her fifth decade as a recording artist and writer, Ian continues to draw large audiences around the globe.

In Society's Child, Janis Ian provides a relentlessly honest account of the successes and failures - and the hopes and dreams - of an extraordinary life.

©2008 Janis Ian (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Each chapter in this mesmerizing memoir begins with an evocative lyric read and sung by Ian, who transports listeners back in time with both words and music." (Booklist)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (524 )
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4.4 (483 )
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Performance
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  •  
    david bush 11-01-14
    david bush 11-01-14
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    8
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    "excellent"
    What made the experience of listening to Society's Child the most enjoyable?

    I remember the music and wondered what had happened to her. I found it fascinating to discover the personality behind the stage persona. The price she paid to craft the music she enjoyed performing (& i listening to) was incredible.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. E. JORDAN Berlin, Germany 10-21-14
    J. E. JORDAN Berlin, Germany 10-21-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Like hearing the story of a friend you haven't met"

    I confess, I didn't know who Janis Ian was when I chose the book. It was recommended by Audible. I googled her name and then decided to give the book a try. What a pleasure! I couldn't wait to listen to the next installment.

    In the intervening months, I've found myself thinking of her story often -- not just for the cruelties and indignities she suffered over the years (and they are legion), but also for her willingness to keep right on living and singing in the face of it. You don't imagine a successful performer is living on next to nothing, hardly scraping by, but if Ian is to be believed, it happened to her and she kept her senses about her despite it all -- and made it through.

    Ian tells her own story with warmth and honesty. You get the feeling that she's an old friend you just haven't met yet. People who know her personally must be very lucky indeed.

    If you aren't among Janice Ian's friends, you can at least listen to her audiobook and come to admire the woman telling the story. I know I have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Dailey San Francisco, CA USA 08-28-14
    P. Dailey San Francisco, CA USA 08-28-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Amazing individual and Great narrator"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Society's Child to be better than the print version?

    Listening to the audio edition with Janis Ian singing in many of the chapters was a special treat and not to be missed by just reading the print version.


    What other book might you compare Society's Child to and why?

    Another autobiography I especially enjoyed listening to was Katherine Graham's "Personal History". She, too, narrated her own book and the power of voice especially as she spoke of her husband's suicide, still sends shivers up and down my spine. Also would compare Society's Child to Patty Smith's "Just Kids". All great autobiographies made all the more powerful by being read by the authors.


    What about Janis Ian’s performance did you like?

    As a performer, her voice captured her stages in life and emotions as she described all the successes and challenges she faced over the years.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robert 08-17-14
    robert 08-17-14 Member Since 2015
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    9
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    "Thanks for being Janis"
    What did you love best about Society's Child?

    Her truthfulness


    What other book might you compare Society's Child to and why?

    My autobiography..if I ever write it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The first time she performed Society's Child live.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Made me feel like turning the next page


    Any additional comments?

    Hope you are still happy..hope to thank you in person some day..
    Love your acoustic versions

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra B 07-09-14
    Debra B 07-09-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Grabs and pulls you in"

    This book was a revelation to me. I knew some of her songs, but I had no idea about all the things going on with her. In the first hour of listening, I heard hints that this might be a bit of a self-serving tale told from a predictable perspective, but after listening more (and I couldn't put it down), I changed my mind about that. Her voice (written and spoken) comes across as honest and nothing-to-hide, and all of her experiences alone make this worth a listen. She has scaled the heights, and been laid low. Sometimes, though, I wondered how her friends or acquaintances might have weighed in on the situation of the moment - I fear that sometimes she may have been the last to know.

    Even if you didn't know her music, you still might find this book interesting. Besides a biography-worthy life, there is also music history in it, and as a nice bonus, she sings some of her songs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marla Independence, MO, United States 06-11-14
    Marla Independence, MO, United States 06-11-14 Member Since 2014

    I've always loved books. Even before I could read I've loved them. Fact or Fiction, I love books. I'd sooner read a book than see a movie.

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    "An Interesting Life"
    Would you listen to Society's Child again? Why?

    Yes I would, because there were many moments of her life I would have liked to revisit, only because I was thinking about the timeline and where I was at that time and what I was doing then.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Learning about Ian's childhood and family life.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There were many "favorites", most of them had to do with her explaining her life tie in with her songs.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I felt so bad for her when her apartment was broken into and her father's guitar was stolen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 04-24-14
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 04-24-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Triumphing Over Adversity"

    Janis Ian's autobiography relates the story of an artist who gained fame at the young age of 15 years and had many other peaks and valleys throughout her life. Having been so successful at an early age was perhaps a detriment as she seemed to be too trusting in her professional life as well as her personal one. As I listened, I came to expect that if things were going smoothly, then something was just waiting to bring her down - trouble with her health, the IRS, her relationships. She was able to persevere through it all and seems to be much happier now.

    I really wanted to hear more about her singing and songwriting career and how she translated her feelings and hopes into such powerful songs. Her narration was very good

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Petaluma, CA, United States 04-05-14
    Amy Petaluma, CA, United States 04-05-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Disappointed"
    What would have made Society's Child better?

    I love Janis Ian's music and lyrics. Her lyrics are complex and lyrical and just beautiful. Her prose is more conversational, and a chore to listen to. Her guitar and singing were the best parts of narration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-28-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "A real survivor and heroine!"

    This is one of my favorite audible books this year. I can understand why it is nominated for an audible award. I normally don't like authors reading their own books but I make an exception in this case.

    Janis Ian opens each chapter singing one of her songs so no one else could do this book justice. I was amazed at everything this talented woman went through in her life so far. She had child abuse, marital abuse, IRS problems due to a manager that stole from her, and health issues that affected her and her family.

    This is the story of a survivor and a true heroine. When everything was going against her she was able to make it through to the other side by realizing that no one could take her talent away from her.

    I always loved her songs, now I love her as a person too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 02-24-14
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 02-24-14
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    "An enjoyable listen"

    Normally, I do not like autobiographies nor audio books with music in it, but it worked for this book. I found the book entertaining and an easy listen. Having the author play the guitar and sing parts of songs really added to the experience. A 3.5 mostly because of the audio...I don't think it would be as good in written form.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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