[Audiobook Talk] Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half The Story by Jewel Kilcher

Audiobook Details:

Format: Audiobook & Hardcover
Source: Library & Bought
Narrator: Jewel
Length: 10 hours 21 minutes
Read: March 2017


New York Times best-selling poet and multiplatinum singer-songwriter Jewel explores her unconventional upbringing and extraordinary life in an inspirational memoir that covers her childhood, rise to fame, marriage, and motherhood.

When Jewel’s first album, Pieces of You, topped the charts in 1995, her emotional voice and vulnerable performance were groundbreaking. In the tradition of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell (she has been compared to both), a singer-songwriter of her kind had not emerged in decades. Now, with over 30 million albums sold worldwide, Jewel tells the story of her life and the lessons learned from her experience and her music.

Living on a homestead in Alaska, Jewel learned to yodel at age three and joined her parents’ act, working in hotels, honky-tonks, and biker bars. Behind a strong-willed and independent family life, with an emphasis on music and artistic talent, was also instability, abuse, and trauma.

At age 15 Jewel was accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where she began writing her own songs as a means of expression. She was 18, homeless, and living out of her car in San Diego when a radio DJ aired a bootleg version of one of her songs. It was requested in the top-10 countdown, something unheard of for an unsigned artist. By age 21, her debut album went multiplatinum.

There is so much more to Jewel’s story, one complicated by family and financial woes, by crippling fear and insecurity, by parents who forced a child to grow up far too quickly, and by the extraordinary circumstances in which she became a world-famous singer and songwriter. Here Jewel reflects on how she survived and how writing songs, poetry, and prose have saved her life many times over. She writes beautifully about the natural wonders of Alaska, about pain and childhood trauma, and about discovering her own identity years after the entire world had discovered the beauty of her songs.

My Thoughts

I don’t know why I put off reading this one for so long! I have loved Jewel for such a long time. I remember when her first album came out and I loved every song and wanted to play guitar just like her and write songs just like her. I collected her bootlegs and wanted to yodel and had to find every song she had out – which was definitely more difficult in the 90s!

This story of her life growing up in Alaska, through the music industry and the very rocky relationship with her mother, the story of her father, the story of her marriage and having a baby … I loved it all. I’m so glad that I got the audiobook from the library because listening to Jewel speak is like sitting with a good friend having coffee. Already her story was wonderful and I found I wanted even more details and a longer story and for it to just keep going. If only I could get a story like this from all my favourite musicians!

Audiobook Notes: 

Like I said, I loved listening to this audiobook. Listening to Jewel tell her story is like being at one of her shows (I imagine … I’ve listened to her for 20 years and have never seen her live!) — she has such a soft and poetic way of speaking, and naturally it’s her story, so she knows how she wants it to come across. She did sing a few of her songs in the audiobook and I kind of wish she’d bust out her guitar with it and sing the songs with more passion than a quick tune of what I’m sure was written up lyrics in the book, BUT it was still nice to hear her sing. There are photos in the book, so I definitely recommend having the book on hand if you do listen to the audio!

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews! 

Readage: Snapshots From a Reading Life
Lazy Book Lovers
Angie Eats Peace


My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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