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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter
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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,022 ratings  ·  177 reviews
An intimate profile of one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century, this first full-length biography of Karen Carpenter details every aspect of her life, from her modest Connecticut upbringing and her rise to stardom in southern California to the real story of her tragic, untimely death. This illuminating depiction of a 1970s icon covers her time as lead s ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published May 17th 2010 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,978)
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Susan Bailey
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
Ann
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
Linda Lipko
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
...more
Jean Marie Angelo
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
...more
Al
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
Faith
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
...more
Kris
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
...more
James Perkins
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
Janet
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
...more
Heather Cox
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
...more
Nicole
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
Desiree Guery
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
...more
Lisa Brandt
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
Michele Lowry hart
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.
Jake
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.
Julie_ian_curtis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
angie
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
...more
Stefanie Price
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
...more
Ghym
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,
...more
Kellie
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
Kristine
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
Suzanne
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
Mallie Hart
A sad, but in-depth look at the life of Karen Carpenter. As a fan of music biographies, this was a good read.
Steven
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
...more
Elizabeth
I developed an interest in the Carpenters when I watched a clip regarding Anne Meara in the wedding scene of “Lovers and Other Strangers,” and the song, “For All We Know” played. I knew I heard the song from a major vocalist when it was popular. I clicked around youtube until I discovered that it was Karen Carpenter, who sang the rendition that was familiar to me. Her velvety, sweet melodic and contralto voice hooked me. I developed a craving to hear more of the Carpenters; “Rainy Days and Monda ...more
Jeanine
This book made me extremely sad again over the death of Karen Carpenter. This is the first book that has been written without the Carpenter family approval and I feel that it is a very unbiased book.

We know so much more about Anorexia Nervosa than we did during Karen's life. I can't help wonder how Karen's life would have been different if her family actually supported her as a person and not just as a way for Richard to showcase his talents. What other works could she have performed and given
...more
Marcelo
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.
Regina K. Himes
Informative and fascinating

I grew up listening to Karen Carpenter's captivating voice. While I, too, was not deeply entertained by their orchestral interpretations of pop, her voice and reading of lyrics often left me with goosebumps. While I knew she'd died from heart problems resulting from her anorexia, I had no idea of the depth of the stresses she suffered from her family, business issues, and never even knew she'd married before her death. This book gave me a vivid, if sometimes terribly d
...more
Juliette
I am actually surprised at how moved I was during (and after) reading this biography on Karen Carpenter. I grew up in a Carpenters household, and can remember Karen's voice as far back as my earliest memories. I also know how sad her voice made my parents feel after Karen's death from anorexia nervosa. I didn't know much about Karen's life, other than the toothsome grins and wholesome matching haircuts that she and her brother, Richard, shared. I loved looking at the photos of Karen and Richard ...more
Julie scott
What a incredible read I could not put this novel down its a must read for all Carpenter fans. I have loved the Carpenter's amazing music since I was a teenager in the 70s. I have always adored Karen Carpenter she had the most beautiful and amazing voice ever. I've seen the movie"The Karen Carpenter Story" with Cynitha Gibb & Mitchell Anderson countless times and never get tired of it. I hated Agnes in the movie but she was a walk in the park compared to the cold, nasty & unloving real l ...more
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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...
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