An Epic Read

Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon were among the women singers/songwriters whose music defined a generation: the hippie baby-boomers coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Sheila Weller’s book, “Girls Like Us,” explores the trio’s intertwining lives and how their successes changed the music industry. It’s a fascinating look at these women’s beginnings, their personal and professional struggles and the men who inspired them (although not always for the good). It’s also an homage to the rise of feminism and the fast-track advances in women’s rights from one decade to the next. Sounds like a must-read, right? Well, maybe. It’s long — more than 500 pages — detailed and peppered with references and observations that do nothing to move the story along. Also, Weller writes with interminably long sentences, relies on distracting hyphens and parentheses and can’t disguise an annoying sort of exclusionary elitist attitude that’s prejudicial and unattractive. For example, she believes that the only smart and progressive women found in America in the early1960s were at the elite Northeastern women’s colleges. Really? Hmmm … That’s just one instance of Weller’s biased and insider approach. But, that being said, I’m glad I read this book. If you’ve ever belted out Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” if King’s “Tapestry” is on your best-album-ever list or if a mellow mood sends you to Mitchell’s “Clouds,” this is the book for you. But if you like quick reads and straightforward writing, it’s not.

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