Picks and Pans Review: Chasing Down the Dawn

updated 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Jewel

Singer-songwriter Jewel is nothing if not earnest. Her new book, a collection of diary entries, reveals a bright, introspective young woman. Unfortunately, her labored insights tilt toward the standbys of pop psychology. Of her first beau, for example, she says, "I was in love with the idea of being in love." Later she finds herself "seeking an approval from others that I wasn't willing to give myself." It's a shame Jewel didn't choose to write a straight-ahead memoir, since this book's best moments are the sketches of her genuinely fascinating Alaska childhood. As a tot singing with her musician parents in remote villages, she was ferried to gigs in dogsleds, and local kids stroked her exotic blonde hair. She once lived in a cabin without a phone across a canyon from her dad, who yodeled when he wanted her to visit. Jewel is a decent writer, though some lines make you want to revoke her poetic license: "Everything seems melancholy in the light of a moon that is emptying its essence into the greedy darkness." There's a sentence only a hardcore fan could love. (HarperCollins, $24)

Bottom Line: Sincerely mixed bag

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