Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination.
The year is 1970. Biracial (black/white) aspiring blues singer Louisiana (better known as Easy) never feels quite at home in her Saskatoon neighborhood. One day, Easy is in the right place at the right time and meets her blues idol, Janis Joplin. When Joplin invites Easy to join her in Texas to meet some movers and shakers in the industry, the 18-year-old will do anything to get there—even if it means traveling across the U.S. with a pair of nuns. Race is a central topic in Stellings’ book. While Easy is no stranger to racism and microaggressions in Canada, she is unprepared for the blatant racism she experiences in the States; in one chilling instance, she’s threatened in a bar full of racists. Stellings also brings Joplin to life, capturing her vivacity without sugarcoating the toll that fame and addiction take on her. Still, although Stellings handles many sensitive issues such as race, tolerance, and addiction with care, parts of Easy’s story are rushed, particularly given the leisurely setup, and the climax fails to deliver.
Time spent with this strong, savvy female protagonist is time well spent, so long as readers focus on that journey. (Historical fiction. 14-18)