Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter” as Want to Read:
Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,682 Ratings  ·  255 Reviews
Little Girl Blue is an intimate profile of Karen Carpenter, a girl from a modest Connecticut upbringing who became a Southern California superstar.

Karen was the instantly recognizable lead singer of the Carpenters. The top-selling American musical act of the 1970s, they delivered the love songs that defined a generation. Karen’s velvety voice on a string of 16 consecutive
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 17th 2010 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Little Girl Blue, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Little Girl Blue

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 14, 2010 Ann rated it it was ok
Don't let my rating fool you--I'm glad I read this book. But it was just ok. The writer has clearly done a great deal of thorough research. Unfortunately, he lacks a gift for storytelling. He also seems not to know which details to include and which to leave out. When reading the biography of a vibrant woman with amazing musical talent who died tragically at a young age of a frightening illness, I don't expect to be told the names and background connections of all the backing musicians who helpe ...more
Jean Marie Angelo
Jul 24, 2014 Jean Marie Angelo rated it really liked it
Karen Carpenter was a star at age 22, a has-been at age 30, and gone at age 32. No book or movie, until Little Girl Blue, has come close to telling the whole story. I love good music journalism, so I really thank the author for doing such a thorough job. Dozens of articles, t.v. appearances, and concert books are cited.

I remember seeing Karen Carpenter on television when I was 12, and seeing her in concert a year later. A woman drummer singing lead in a band. This was groundbreaking in 1972. Thi
Susan Bailey
Jul 07, 2013 Susan Bailey rated it it was amazing
I am doing research on Anorexia Nervosa for a novel I plan on writing and instantly thought of Karen Carpenter as a place to start. Little Girl Blue turned into much more than just a book for research. Randy Schmidt revealed a life that was was very sad. Here was a woman who supposedly had it all and yet had so little in the end. It is unfortunate that Schmidt could not talk to Karen herself but given the nature of anorexia, he wouldn't have gotten much out of her. Anorexics are masters at decep ...more
Linda Lipko
Jul 20, 2013 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
How refreshing it is to read a biography that is honestly written with no intent or end product of sensationalism.

The Carpenters were at the top of the charts in the 1970's. We've Only Just Begun was standard wedding music. Karen's voice was perfect in pitch, and while many did not confess to embracing the duo, their songs were exceedingly popular and well known with 16 consecutive top 20 songs from 1970-1976.

This is the sad and tragic story of Karen Carpenter who died at the age of 32 from self
Aug 18, 2010 Janet rated it it was ok
Gosh, I wanted to love this book because I love Karen Carpenter. But I can only review what I read, and what I read was not that great. I didn't think the author did a good job of evoking the time period or the music scene of the 70s. He did give me statistics about record sales and concert appearances until my eyes began to roll back in my head from boredom.

There were interesting sections of the book. I was engaged by the glimpses you catch of how Karen Carpenter evolved as an artist and the sc
Madeline  Jackfruit
Nov 19, 2010 Madeline Jackfruit rated it really liked it
Karen Carpenter gave me one of those stardusted, historic evenings that you remember for the rest of your life. A moment where you find joy in the new and gain divine inspiration. With a happy explosion of fireworks, I was marked by a significant empathy towards Karen Carpenter and a new consciousness of the depth of her life and her music. I also developed a new awareness on how to listen to music and the tenderness that can sometimes require. And this was afforded to me by Todd Haynes.

On a rat
Lisa Brandt
Dec 26, 2012 Lisa Brandt rated it it was amazing
Karen Carpenter's pure and expressive voice belied a virtually unloved young woman whose life was dominated by a family who took every opportunity to diminish her contribution to The Carpenters. This book is very thorough, well-written and difficult to put down. If you ask most people about Karen they will say "she died from anorexia" but it was much more complicated than that. Her closest friends gave rare interviews for this book and shared Karen's triumphs and tragedies and the effect that he ...more
I knew this was going to be sad, but I didn't expect to feel quite so bereft, even in advance of the dark turn her story takes. She comes off as a genuine and goofy kid, and so so startlingly talented. You really want to go back in time and befriend her and change the trajectory somehow. All the feels. All the sorrows. Read it and go listen to Solitaire. Over and over.
Sep 17, 2012 Faith rated it really liked it
Most Americans over the age of 25 (and some abroad) know of Karen Carpenter and her untimely passing due to complications of anorexia. I'd be willing to wager that almost every one of us has heard the uniquely rich, smooth timbre of her vocals on their local soft rock or oldies radio stations. But somewhat lesser known is the story behind the wholesome family image behind the Carpenters' smiling faces on their album covers.

In Little Girl Blue, Randy Schmidt details the lives of the siblings who
Aug 17, 2011 Al rated it really liked it
I can recall where I was when I first heard Karen Carpenter’s voice (on a school bus in 9th grade; she was singing “Ticket to Ride). And I remember the only time I saw her in person (at a concert where my seat was so far up all I could see of her was her arm banging a drum). So reading Schmidt’s biography brought back a lot of fond memories. Both close and casual fans will appreciate the insights on her career and personal struggles. This is no mere collection of press and fan accounts; Schmidt ...more
Desiree Guery
Apr 03, 2012 Desiree Guery rated it liked it
I'm a big fan of Karen Carpenter and have always been interested in her life. Of course, trying to read about it is difficult because the Carpenter family is so guarded. The author did a good job at bringing you into Karen's world, but got a little too technical on Carpenter songs, producers and recording history. I want to know more about her illness, and less about how many times they recorded "Ticket to Ride" and where, and how well it sold.

One of the most telling signs of Karen's descent in
Michele Lowry hart
Jan 13, 2013 Michele Lowry hart rated it it was amazing
Although we all know how this book ends, if you grew up listening to The Carpenters, as I did, you will really enjoy this book. Behind the scenes of the music industry in the 60's & 70's, Karen's home life and, of course, her struggle with anorexia. Sad, frustrating and sometimes tough to read, I still couldn't put it down. In my book ; ) Karen Carpenter was and is one of the best female vocalists.
James Perkins
Dec 19, 2013 James Perkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Singer Karen Carpenter became internationally famous in the 1970s as one half of the very successful brother-sister duo The Carpenters. Her voice had a unique timbre that made it instantly recognisable to any listener of soft rock, and was much admired by the public and her musical contemporaries alike. This biography, published in 2010, is the latest and probably the most honest of her life stories set down in print. Previous efforts glossed over the more unpleasant aspects, whereas this one is ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Grade: D

When I was a teenager, I owned every Karen Carpenter record and watched every time she was on TV. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of her passing, which stunned me ever greater than John Lennon's. So when I saw LITTLE GIRL BLUE: THE LIFE OF KAREN CARPENTER on sale for $1.99, I grabbed the opportunity to revisit my childhood idol.

LITTLE GIRL is long on music factoids; if that grabs your interest, Randy L Schmidt delivers and includes sources.I was more interested in he
May 29, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it
The Carpenters' golden years were before my time, so what I know of Karen Carpenter is anorexia first, music second. This book was interesting, but was heavy on boring recording details and light on anecdotes that might really bring her to life on the page. There are many quotes about people remembering her warmth, sense of humor, love of fun... but no examples of it. Her family was described as sufficiently creepy and horrible, though, and it's not hard to see why she had such deep-seated perso ...more
Oct 22, 2011 angie rated it really liked it
I don't know the exact reason why, almost 30 years later, Karen Carpenter's death still leaves me sad whenever I hear a song of hers on the radio or my iPod shuffle. From all accounts written about her, from everything friends of hers have said, Karen was a very fun and funny woman...kind, super talented and a genuine person. That's probably a major part of it.

But the way she died and how it eventually came to overshadow (in some ways, at least) her amazing voice and musical legacy...somehow tha
Jan 20, 2011 Kris rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be.

Something about how they talked about with Karen made me vaguely sad, and I'm not meaning the "doomed anorexic" angle usually associated with her. There was a hard-to-describe tone to everything that I'm failing to put into words. She also seemed to be a bit immature for her age, surprising since you would think the fame and all that it opened up to her would have had the opposite effect.

She was talented, she worshipped her brot
Apr 11, 2012 Jake rated it it was amazing
Heart-felt, heart-wrenching biography of one of American music's true talents, an angel's voice silenced too soon. Randy L. Schmidt has jumped high hurdles to tell this tale -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
8/11/15 Kindle Daily Deal $1.99, add Audible for $1.99.
Stefanie Price
Sep 28, 2011 Stefanie Price rated it it was ok
I always loved The Carpenters. Karen's voice has the power to soothe, uplift and transport. I remember watching the biopic as a child in the 80s, so I had a vague understanding that her story was a tragic one, but I didn't really know much more than that she had a strange family and died of anorexia at a young age.

Even more shocking now, when I am only a year younger than Karen when she passed. It really brings home the tragedy of a life cut short, so I thought this would be a really emotitiona
Aug 26, 2015 Eva rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Any Carpenters fan with marginal knowledge of the group dynamic
Recommended to Eva by: Found it on Amazon
I've been a Carpenters fan since my teen years. Love or hate their music, there is no denying the richness, depth, and beauty of Karen Carpenter's voice. It's trite to say that the relative clean living the Carpenters embodied wasn't enough to save Karen from herself. The truth is, she was a young woman, with a big voice, and an immensely talented brother. It seems that her young start in her career put her in a position where she was not the decision maker. She stayed there; it was her brother, ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Ghym rated it it was amazing
Confession: I'm not the biggest fan of the Carpenters. While I admire their harmonies and songwriting skills, their pop sound was always a little too light and corny for me.

But I've always been fascinated by Karen Carpenter. Her story is unbearably tragic. And as someone who has struggled with body and image issues, though not anorexia specifically, I relate.

Schmidt came to the Carpenters late--after watching the tv movie on her life in the late 80s, a whitewashed account of Karen's struggles,
if you still have blinders on about the carpenters this book it NOT for you.

i bought this when it first came out but id been putting off reading because i knew it would be upsetting-and it was. but very well written. you can tell the author loves karen. i read it in one sitting.

this seems too short at 300 pages but when you think about it karen was gone too young. if you love karen this is easy to read. confirmed a lot of what i knew already - agnes is a **** and so is tom burris. sorry richard
Jul 10, 2010 Kristine rated it really liked it
What a sad account of the tragic death of singer Karen Carpenter. I agree with the author that her anorexia nervosa was caused from her unhappy relationships with her mother and the all the pressure put on her to make sure Richard was the star of the family. It also didn't help that Karen ended up marrying a man that seemed to want her for her money instead of love. I found myself so angry with Karen's family, especially her mother and Richard throughout this biography. Why couldn't they show he ...more
I had a couple records by the Carpenters growing up. They were part of my childhood. Karen’s voice is so unique. No one has come close to sounding like her. There have been other books written about the Carpenters but I don’t think any of them were like this. If this book is true, it does not paint a nice picture of Karen’s family. Specifically Richard and Agnes, Karen’s mother. I believe they both contributed to Karen’s self image which led to her Anorexia and then her death. Schmidt does not h ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Suzanne rated it liked it
A good book. I would have liked it better if it had just focussed on Karen's life and not spent the first half of the book detailing every musician she ever recorded with and numbers of record sales, etc.. She was big, we know that, but it is the troubling story of her family, her talent, and her disease that we care about and which the second half of the book does focus on. I did end up with a better understanding of anorexia-- I've always understood the impulse (what overweight person doesn't? ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
As a lifelong fan of The Carpenters, I found this book filled with wonderful memories of the music that I grew up with. I never really understood the full story of Karen Carpenter and what she was going through in her life. I found this book extremely heartbreaking and at times very disturbing. Some of the songs now have a totally different meaning, as I can now hear the sadness in her voice.
Little Girl Blue is a comprehensive and heartbreaking book the reads more like a novel than the biography
Jan 11, 2012 Marcelo rated it it was amazing
The most important book about the most famous singer of all time. Karen Carpenter's voice and musical qualities are well known all over the world. Anyone can recognize her voice in any of the Carpenter's hits - and you don't need to be a huge fan to know it. She was the Superstar, the drummer who sang...but most important of all...she was an young lady who just wanted to love. Randy's book is fascinating...and it is a must read for any - fan or not.
Michael Keiser
Oct 28, 2012 Michael Keiser rated it did not like it
I couldn't make it through this one. Karen Carpenter's voice captivated me since I first heard her back in the day. But this book seems to be an endless repetition of recording dates, personal appearances and TV shows. Her mother certainly did her no favors; Karen should have left home at 18, not 26. I'm sorry she died so soon (her brother is now 66!). I still enjoy her music, but this book -- not so much.
Nov 03, 2013 Becca rated it did not like it
This book was disappointing to me. I had hoped for the story Karen Carpenter and instead got a boring description of all the record deals they made. The author seemed to have very little insight into the physical problems Karen experienced and didn't seem to express any insight into Karen's tragic death. I was bored while I read the book and would not recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about who Karen Carpenter really was.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six
  • I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story
  • As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling
  • My Friend Michael: Growing Up With The King Of Pop
  • Psychedelic Bubble Gum Boyce & Hart, the Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles
  • Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers: An Oral/Visual History
  • Luther: The Life and Longing of Luther Vandross
  • Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney
  • Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him
  • Lips Unsealed: A Memoir
  • Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll
  • The Rolling Stone Interviews
  • Conversations with Tom Petty
  • Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac
  • I, Rhoda
  • Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga
  • Toni Tennille: A Memoir
Randy L. Schmidt is the editor of Yesterday Once More: Memories of the Carpenters and Their Music. He served as creative consultant for several television documentaries on the Carpenters, including those for E! True Hollywood Story, A&Es Biography, and VH1s Behind the Music."
More about Randy L. Schmidt...

Share This Book

“what does it take to just be kind? They could see she was melting away like a snowman in front of their faces, but they couldn’t do it. It was brutal.” 2 likes
“Allyn Ferguson, who worked with the Carpenters in the early 1970s, witnessed the downhill slide of many artists, even legends like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. “It happens to everybody,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the people themselves. They’re doing the same thing they always did. The public gets tired of them. It’s a strange thing how the American public is not only fickle, but they respond to a lot of different things that are not musical at all, like the publicity and the attention that everybody’s giving them. It’s like a mob mentality. When the idol starts to have the image disappear, American fans just move on to the next one. That’s a part of show business. We have a great term in showbiz—everybody’s a ‘star fucker,’ which means if you’re not a star anymore everybody just turns their back. It’s very fleeting, and there are tragedies. I think Karen was one of those tragedies, and I could name dozens of other people who can’t deal with the fact that it’s not like it used to be.” 1 likes
More quotes…