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Book Review: 'I, Tina' an exhausting, admirable tale of rock legend Tina Turner

'I, Tina: My Life Story'


In the age of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, it should be no surprise when an artist airs her dirty laundry. But somehow reading "I, Tina" about how Tina Turner survived the School of Ike Turner is still cringeworthy.

Book cover of 'I, Tina'
Internet Fair Use/Publisher: It Books

Fans and occasional supporters may already know that Tina Turner was a well-known survivor of domestic violence, especially after actress Angela Bassett's stunning performance in the 1993 film about the R&B and rock star. And although there were some wild scenes with actor Laurence Fishburne (who played Ike Turner) in the film, that's only a small percentage of the abuse that Tina Turner underwent, according to the book co-authored by Kurt Loder.

While some men may want a woman to look her best during intimacy, Ike Turner seemed to prefer beating the daylights out of his lady friends to have sex with him afterwards. In the film, this may have seemed like a onetime thing, but in "I, Tina," this was a regular occurrence. It's almost a wonder how Tina Turner could take any photos at all considering she admitted that her left eye almost always stayed black. As soon as it'd start to heal, Tina Turner said her husband would beat her up again.

There were countless other moments that made "I, Tina" difficult to read: Ike Turner sticking a lit cigarette up Tina Turner's nose, car shootings, house burnings, stalking, the notorious pound cake incident, the bizarre Bolic Sound studio, his gambling issues, his drug addiction, countless pregnancies, his fear of the unknown (ex. Buddhism) and nonstop infidelity.

I had another girl in St. Louis that sang better than [Tina] did, girl named Pat -- I don't know her last name, but I got a baby by her, too. -Ike Turner

Although this painful marriage is the most dominant topic in the book, Tina Turner also talked about a couple of ex-boyfriends, losing her virginity and her son (Craig) from a previous relationship before she met Ike. She told her side of the story on lesbian rumors, how she got along with Ike Turner's mistresses, her introduction to wigs and makeup, and her struggle with raising children.

For music lovers who want to get past the drama and on to the music library, she covers that, too, including her connection to other legends (ex. David Bowie, Mick Jagger), why she doesn't care to know who's in her listening crowd, her reaction to her first solo "River Deep Mountain High" written by Phil Spector, how she transitioned from R&B to rock, and how she turned her life around after an excruciating divorce.

Whether people are reading "I, Tina" for music history, relationship history, gossip or just to find out what "Little Tina" was like as a kid, it's all in the 2010 book. What makes the book so good is instead of going for the "whoa is me" approach, her strength in telling her stories made people wonder how in the world someone so strong could be manipulated in the first place. She even threw in a few jokes about fashion do's and don't, Ike's cronies, Ike's own (un)fashionable choices and a Rolls Royce story worth literally laughing out loud about.

Although "I, Tina" is an intense tale, and she doesn't appear to leave much out, it's strange that the book is still so easy to tear through. Even through the most upsetting moments, readers are left wondering, "What is Tina going to say next?" The only way to find that out is to read it, and then reread it to see what was missed the first time around.

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.

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