Searching for Tina Turnerby Jacqueline E. Luckett
On the surface, Lena Spencer appears to have it all. She and her wealthy husband Randall have two wonderful children, and they live a life of luxury. In reality, however, Lena finds that happiness is elusive. Randall is emotionally distant, her son has developed a drug habit, and her daughter is disgusted by her mother's "overbearing behavior." When Randall decides that he's had enough of marriage counseling, he offers his wife an ultimatum: "Be grateful for all I've done for you or leave." Lena, realizing that money can't solve her problems and that her husband is no longer the man she married, decides to choose the latter. Drawing strength from Tina Turner's life story, SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER is Lena's struggle to find herself after 25 years of being a wife and mother.
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Searching for Tina Turner
By Luckett, Jacqueline E.
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2010 Luckett, Jacqueline E.
All right reserved.
On their first date more than thirty years ago, Randall took Lena to an Ike and Tina Turner concert. From the minute they sat down in the fifth row from the stage, she knew he wanted to impress her even though he hadn’t needed to. She would have sat with him in the park, gone to the drive-in, eaten Wheaties in the narrow half-kitchen of his studio apartment, done whatever he wanted; she’d been that eager to be with him.
The Ikettes crowded onto the narrow stage while Ike’s deep bass warmed up the audience; like a chant his words tumbled soft and low. A hush fell over the auditorium as the guitar riff brought down the house lights. Blamp. The trumpets spit. Up, down, left, right. Blamp blamp. Suddenly, Tina pranced across the stage swinging her store-bought hair, the mic, the fringe on her sequined dress. Her taut legs pumped like a runner about to hit the finish line, her short dress coming close to revealing all that was underneath. The music increased to a faster, throbbing tempo. Girls cried. Men beckoned to Tina. The Ikettes moved with Tina, step for step, pounding the stage in three-inch heels.
Lena inched toward the crowded center aisle along with everyone else to get up on the stage and dance with Tina. Randall caught her by the waist, leaned down, and pressed his lips against her ear. “You’re as cool as Tina Turner,” he whispered, he as cool in a hip, sixties way as he meant she was. Trembling from the heat of his body, the ripple of his chest, the fuzz of his mustache, Lena kissed him. The clamorous crowd and loud music disappeared into the distance, and for years she remembered thinking that, as corny as it seemed, they were the only two people in the auditorium.
Now, those memories rush back as she watches a wrinkled TV personality melt in Tina Turner’s smile. Lena lifts her glass; it would be nice to ooze such charm and self-assurance in a way so subtle and subdued that it ought to be bottled. Randall believes that good liquor deserves a toast. So here’s to Tina. And Randall.
Tina looks directly into the camera, poised and straightforward; her eyes twinkle with humor and self-confidence. She is a perfect combination of wild and sexy. Of secure and comfortable freedom. The reporter sees it, remarks on it, and asks if it comes from celebrity or the people around her, and Tina lets him know that it comes from within. He goes over her history: regaining her place at the top of the pop charts, her refusal to focus on color or race, a misunderstanding with Elton John. Tina smiles again and changes the subject.
She talks of life, faith, and love for her man. Her brownish blond hair softens her ageless face, accentuates her full lips. The camera captures the warm beige and gold of her skin in a tight close-up and pans her hilltop home and the royal blue Mediterranean beyond. A happy blue, Lena thinks—the opposite of the blue she feels right now.
Without a thought of the fifteen-hour time difference between Oakland and Hong Kong, Lena dials Randall. The international connection to his cell phone click-click-clicks her to the Far East.
“Who the hell is this?” Randall’s voice is slurred with sleep.
“Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.” Lena mimics Tina, believing her husband knows good and well who it is. Because, unless his ears have suddenly lost their perfect hearing, their home number has a special ring tone on his phone.
“Remember that Tina Turner concert we went to?” She reaches for the Drambuie and dribbles more into her glass. “Tina’s arms spinning, her energy… she’s so beautiful.”
“Is everything all right? Are the kids okay?” The metallic echo of fumbling comes through loud and clear. Lena closes her eyes and imagines Randall in a fancy king-sized bed, his suite big enough to house a family: left arm stretches out under the covers, right arm adjusts the pillow to fit in the crook of his neck, his thick eyebrows push toward the permanent wrinkle in the middle of his forehead. She can almost smell his nighttime musky scent in the whoosh the pillow emits when he finally settles into it.
“Kendrick is fine. Camille is fine. I know you said we’d talk again in a couple of days, but I got excited when I saw Tina Turner.”
“What does Tina Turner have to do with me at four in the morning?” Randall clears his throat, and Lena visualizes his neck lengthening, his Adam’s apple sliding up, then down and up again, his arm bending to show the luminous dial of his watch. She had not thought of that concert in years or the feeling she’d had of being complete and whole. Stretching her own arm again to the glass beside her, she glares at the TV and the dip Randall’s body has worn into his side of the mattress.
“She’s on TV. Right now. I wish you could see her. She made me think of our first date. That was the first time we made love, remember?”
“Of course, I remember, Lena, I was there, too. Are you drinking?”
“It calms my nerves.”
“Maybe you can frivol away the day—and that, coincidentally, is compliments of this trip and all that work you’ve been complaining about—but I have to get up in two hours.”
For the first time in twenty-seven days, Lena wonders if this abruptness is because she has disturbed more than his sleep; if some woman has gone to where Lena should have. No invitation had been extended to join him, like other business trips to New York, Rome, Berlin, and more, savoring free moments between conference calls and meetings. No matter what he has told her, his work—the complexity of TIDA’s pending acquisition—allowed Randall to escape. He needed to be upbeat, he told her, to be ready to think clearly, to strategize, to make decisions—or change them on a dime—and he did not have time, or the desire, to deal with the irritability that seemed to plague her.
Sharon? Not four months ago, at a TIDA dinner, Randall’s colleague insisted he taste her béarnaise-smothered steak. Lena watched the very sexy Sharon risk a death knell for her career, and maybe her boss’s, by leaning into Randall and offering her fork to his willing and open lips. Randall is friendly, she thinks, but that gesture went way past friendly.
“Are you alone?” Her lips tighten, shoulders hunch; Lena presses the phone hard against her ear, as disarmed by the question as she hopes Randall is. Tossing back her drink in one, swift motion, she slams the glass on the nightstand. The table creaks with her protest, her alarm.
“No, my mistress is here; right beside me: the TIDA contract. Hundreds of pages all over me, all over the bed, all over the floor. I’m doing her every place I can. Sorry she can’t talk now, but if you want, I can fax her to you.”
“That’s not funny.”
“And neither is your question.”
“I’m going to call your secretary and make our next appointment with the therapist.”
“Fuck no. If that leaked to the board… they’d assume I’m incompetent. That’s all the ammunition they need to keep from appointing me CEO. Just figure out what’s going on with you.”
f f f
Before Randall left, Lena suggested a marriage counselor to help get to the root of the heightening tension between them. She described to him what he called her indifference and watched his eyebrows knit together in what she assumed was his indifference. Both let go of their unspoken routine. Never going to bed angry. Apologetic embraces that turned to lusty sex. Revering the gem they called love, considering each other’s opposing points of view until they reached truce or, even better, agreement.
“Therapy,” he said, “is what white people do.” Lena reminded him that he had quickly agreed to therapy for their son, and that, the last time Lena looked, Kendrick wasn’t white. Randall agreed to a session before he left and one more when he returned.
After introductions, Dr. Brustere opened his hands like a priest ready to bestow the sign of peace, to balance the power in the room, and asked about their marriage. Randall eyed the therapist as if determining a battle-ready opponent. Good brotha, bad brotha. Dr. Brustere pressed his expensive pen into the dimple in his chin—his signal to Randall that he was expected to talk.
Randall told the therapist that most people who knew him would be shocked to know that he considered himself a simple man, given the thick gold bracelet on his right wrist and the Rolex on his left (his only jewelry), his designer suits, and luxury four-door sedan. He believed goals were essential to success—personal or business—that only through hard work and consistency could a man, or woman, meet those goals. He valued loyalty as the most important quality in human nature (his father taught him that, if nothing else) and jazz as an imperative for sanity in an unstable world.
At the age of eight, he had decided he would never be like his father, an unreasonable man who got religion and a sure sense of self-righteousness about two years after he left Randall and his mother; though he did return to take care of his son after Randall’s mother died. Randall had basic needs: kids who believed he could do no wrong, the love of his wife, a little attention, a lot of sex.
He pointed his finger at his wife and, for all his smarts and degrees, the wrinkle in his brow proved that he did not understand what had caused the change. “Lena is the one with the problem. She has everything she could want.”
“I love my husband. I love my kids, my home. I do not love that they have come to define me or that what I have has become more important than who I am.” She twisted her wedding ring as if the large replacement suddenly itched the finger that she had worn a ring on for twenty-three years. “My spirit, what makes me me, is dying.”
Randall leaned back deep in the wingback chair. Before that one gesture, before the lips pursed, the brow wrinkled, she thought she saw a glimmer of understanding, of empathy. He made a loose one-handed fist beneath his chin and moved his head up and down as though they had all day, not fifty-five minutes. Lena knew that move and all his moves; she could write the dictionary on Randall’s unspoken commentary. That one meant checkmate. Lena wanted to point out that his reaction was typical of what was wrong with their marriage lately: the more important Randall became at TIDA, the more he disregarded explanations based in emotion.
“I love you. I love our family. But, I’ve given myself away, slowly, freely, and now… I want myself back.” Lena dug her fingernails into the sides of her chair, and somewhere in the back of her mind it became clear to her why they were so frayed. “Otherwise, I’m going to lose my mind.”
“This is the same conversation we had last week, the same conversation we keep having. It’s circular. It hasn’t gotten us anywhere and, quite frankly, if I have to hear it again…” Randall made finger quotes in the air. “I’m going to lose my mind.”
f f f
On TV speeding police cars in the midst of a freeway pursuit replace Tina’s interview. Their shrill sirens mask the space the phone static fills. Lena switches the phone to her right ear and measures two fingers of Drambuie into her empty glass with her left hand.
By the end of that session Randall offered Lena an ultimatum, and now she shudders under the pressure, the urgency to make a decision. She opens her planner and darkens another dated square of the calendar. That square, and twenty-six others recklessly colored in with black ink, creates a stark disparity between what was, what is, and the five white squares left in this month. Five days left to get her act together. Five days to decide if she even wants to get her act together.
“I wish…,” Lena says, wanting Randall to understand her change of direction, her altered focus. Not away from him, just closer to herself. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”
“I know there are plenty of women who would be very happy given the same set of circumstances.” Randall huffs, and Lena imagines his body twitching like it does when he gets mad. Legs first, then arms, then left eyebrow. “I did what you asked. I sat in front of that wimpy-assed therapist while you complained about how unhappy you are, how I won’t let you play with your photography. I told you. If you’re so unhappy, take the time that I’m gone to figure out what you want.”
“I want us, and I want me.”
“It’s almost dawn. I’ll talk to you later. And don’t forget Kendrick’s prescription.”
In the second it takes to realize the phone call is over, Lena’s armpits dampen with icy sweat as a quarter-sized spider skitters across the pillow where Randall’s head should be. She worries where this damn thing has come from and questions if this is a sign her husband will never nestle his head in that spongy spot again. The spider’s blackness, its scampering pace, forces a frantic search for newspaper, tissue, or shoe. She snatches the daily planner beside her, holds it so the contents won’t spill, and whacks the spider again and again; lets the up and down motion, the dull slap of leather against pillow, do what her husband would if he were there.
Her parents poked fun at her when she was young. Said their California-born girl was city-spoiled. Sky-splitting lightning, the Great Dane around the corner, the creak in the closet at night—those fears they understood, but not of pests so small that, even as children, her parents smashed without thinking. Back in Mississippi, they told Lena, black folks thought spiders in the house were omens of wealth and good luck.
Omen, confirmation, or sickening fluke, Lena collects the squished black dot with tissues. Holding the wad at arm’s length, she shoves Randall’s pillow to the floor and stumbles into the bathroom, where she pitches the tissue into the toilet and slams the lever. At the sink, she scowls in the medicine cabinet mirror, not caring for what she sees: one of Randall’s undershirts hangs loosely from her round shoulders, puffy eyelids, lopsided bed hair, flaky patches on her nose. If Randall could see her, he would not be pleased. She sticks out her tongue at her reflection, reaches for a can of window cleaner underneath the sink, and sprays a thick coat of foam on the mirror’s surface. “You can’t run, but you can hide.”
Two shakes of the bedcovers and tissues, magazines, bras, and panties flip in all directions. Lena grabs Randall’s pillow, wraps her arms around it like she would his body if he were there, and tries to understand when her ability to be on her own diminished, and how she slipped from self-sufficiency to comfortable reliance. With one turn to the left, her body readjusts to the groove she’s worn into her side of the mattress. The headboard rattles as she falls back against the smooth upholstery and ponders this loss of self that can’t be brushed aside by Randall like a toe stubbed in the dark.
The squat bottle of Drambuie on the nightstand has replaced the alabaster pot full of bottle caps that a then three-year-old Camille gave to Lena. Lena assumes that gifts of words or anything else must not be hip for teenagers anymore. These days, if her daughter—or son, for that matter—were to bestow such kindness, Lena would be grateful. She reaches for the bottle and splashes the liquid into her glass. She swirls the sweet, golden Drambuie liqueur around in her mouth and holds it, not quite accustomed to the burn at the back of her tongue, and lets it slide from throat to stomach.
It’s not just her; Randall needs to get his act together, too. Lena punches the phone pad with the international code plus 8 and 6 and his phone number again to tell him she will schedule a second appointment with Dr. Brustere. Randall’s phone rings and rings, and when his recorded voice, his proper English, instructs callers to leave a message, she pitches the phone and watches it skid across the hardwood floor.
Drambuie or reality, the pages of her red leather planner seem to gawk at Lena and demand action. She owes a call to the woman she tutors, an apology for missed sessions so her student will understand that neglect is not her intention. Save for the blackened squares, April is empty. Manicures, meetings, the hairdresser, luncheons, and volunteer work have disappeared. In all of the twenty-seven days since Randall has been away—the longest time they have ever been apart—she has ignored invitations, requests for donations, and callers who say in singsong voices, “Just checking in.”
Assorted pictures are jammed between the planner’s thin pages: Kendrick, at two, beaming in a Halloween costume; Camille, all of five, posed in a novice arabesque; a Jamaican vacation five years ago—she and Randall hand-in-hand in the midst of a dive off the cliff at Rick’s Negril Café. He’d held her hand all the way down and into the turquoise water. Her hand tingles now with the memory of the security, the assurance of Randall’s solid grip. There is also a withdrawal slip from their joint checking account, confirmation of enrollment for a Tuesday evening photography course that starts tomorrow night, and Kendrick’s most recent prescription.
Outside the windows beyond her bed floodlights cast shadows on the house and the undersides of the trees and their leaves. Lena walks to the window and looks down on the magnolia tree spiking in anticipation of a mid-spring bloom. The tree sold Lena on the house when they first saw it from the real estate agent’s car nineteen years ago. It reminded her of Lulu’s recollections of stately southern homes that black folks could only walk by, not live in: huge white flowers that attracted more beetles than bees, the earthiness of the double-colored leaves, scent like strong citrus perfume.
Her dreams blossom in this home framed with purple hydrangeas, leggy oleander and this magnolia tree. The memories flash in her mind: her children, now grown past the days of tumbling across the sprawling lawn, fearless and eager to show off; brilliant Fourth of July fireworks beyond the silhouette of downtown Oakland and San Francisco’s foggy skyline; the smell of cut grass on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
She does not want to think about the orchids in her sunroom wilting from lack of water. Nor the jars of homemade apple chutney, bottles of olive oil, and tins of spices in the pantry that await her creative hand. Nor does she want to focus on the jade lion that guards the front door, the photography books stacked on the coffee table—Parks, Arbus, DeCarava, Weems—or the gold-flecked Venetian glass ball that all sit covered with the fine dust of disuse.
Presence was the word the Italian-accented agent used when they first drove up the winding driveway. “This house fits you and Mr. Spencer well. You both have presence, too.”
Randall may still have presence after all of these years, but what Lena feels right now is the complete opposite. Her ability to create the future diminishes each day: yesterday she could not raise her arms to shower or comb her hair, this morning she could not keep food in her stomach, minutes ago she could not explain to her husband what is in her heart without sounding whiny or spoiled, and now she can barely stand.
In the scheme of things, twenty-seven days is not a long time. A flower can bud, bloom, and die in twenty-seven days. At this very minute, Lena is overwhelmed by indecisiveness, incapable of moving her fifty-four-year-old body. The odds of her leaving or staying are as unpredictable as that skittering spider’s path. Call it unhappiness, menopause, midlife crisis, lack of respect, fear of losing who she is, fear that she no longer fits in this dream. Whatever.
Excerpted from Searching for Tina Turner by Luckett, Jacqueline E. Copyright © 2010 by Luckett, Jacqueline E.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Jacqueline Luckett is a former sales representative for Xerox. After leaving the corporate world, Jacqueline took a creative writing class on a dare (from herself) and began writing short stories and poetry and never looked back. Jacqueline loves living in Oakland, but travels frequently to nurture her passion for photography and learning to cook exotic foods. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In Oakland, wealthy Randall and Lena Spencer and their two children seemed to live the perfect family life. However, Lena who gave up her photography career to support her business executive husband as he worked his way up and to raise their two kids feels lonely and unfulfilled. She persuades Randall to go to marriage counseling, but he quits rather quickly and warns her to shape up as she should be grateful to what he has done for her over the two decades plus of marriage ignoring what she has done for him. While Randall is on a business trip, a fuming Lena reads Tina Turner's autobiography with her focus on the rock star's life after kicking Ike to the curb. Knowing Randall is not the man she loved and married as he unsupportive but not physically abusive, Lena decides to call his bluff and they separate. The teens prefer affluence so they stay with dad; hurting her more that they chose materialism. She obtains a position at an art gallery and travels to France hoping to meet Tina, but instead runs into Harmon who dumped Lena for someone else years ago. They share sex and he proposes having always regretted his mistake even as Randall arrives to beg her come home. Searching for Tina Turner is a charming interesting contemporary tale that looks closely at self actuation inside of family dynamics. The story line is driven by Lena, who ironically feels Randall does not listen to her needs while ignoring his side of the argument; just like he does hers. Although she never has to give up her luxurious lifestyle after leaving Randall (flying and staying in Nice, France cannot be cheap), readers will enjoy Lena's quest to find her self starting with moving out and seeking out her muse. Harriet Klausner
The premise of the book is an interesting one but the author should've done more with the story. It ends abruptly and with no satisfactory conclusion. The fate of the main character is left in the air, which left me feeling like I wasted my time reading the novel.
I found this to be a fun journey thru france by way of a typical divorce scenario
i havent read it, but i wanted to write something.
Readers familiar with the writing of Connie Briscoe, Terry McMillan, and Be Be Campbell Moore will welcome Jacqueline Luckett to the world of African-American literature during a time when the most prolific and popular African-American secular authors write about drug dealers, drug addicts, criminals, con artists, and gold diggers. Like her predecessors, Ms.Luckett writes for and about that forgotten segment of the African-American community, the college educated, middle class professional. Lena Spencer has put off her professional dreams for some thirty odd years to provide emotional and social support for her husband Randall as he climbed the ladder at TIDA, to raise the children and run the household. Now that the children are leaving home for college, Lena wants Randall to reciprocate with emotional support as she returns to school to update her photography skills in preparation to starting her own photography studio. After all, they had an agreement that Lena would hold off on starting her career while Randall built his. Lena is tired of waiting and is ready to begin filling her dream, but Randall is still actively building his career and wants Lena to go along with the roles that they have been playing for the past thirty years, with Lena serving as housewife and social hostess. Even though Randall has provided a life of luxury and security for Lena and the children, Lena is prepared to give it all up and start her life over on her terms much like her shero Tina Turner. Housewives who interrupted or postponed their careers to raise families will relate to Lena's universal journey and may be encouraged to revive their deferred careers or hobbies. Women experiencing the "empty-nest syndrome" and those experiencing menopause will also relate to Lena as they too begin time and dreams slipping away. Lena is the main character and the only fully developed character. We see all of the other characters through her eyes. We are privy only to Lena's inner thoughts. We learn enough about her husband and children to know that she feels unappreciated as well as unfulfilled creatively. While I would have liked to have shared some of Randall's inner thoughts, not having access to his thoughts did not detract from my enjoyment of Lena's passage from self-denial to self-actualization, from allowing circumstances decide her fate to determining her fate for herself. Although the characters are African-American, Lena's plight is universal and the story can be enjoyed by everyone. The average middle class American will recognize families like the Spencers among their neighbors. SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER is an excellent debut effort. There is a neglected audience waiting for reading material that portrays African-Americans in a positive and relevant manner, Ms.Luckett has addressed that audience in a meani
Lately Lena is starting to identify with her mother, Lula. She's a stay-at-home mom responsible for providing everything to everyone with little to no room for self. In her mother's time that may have been acceptable, but nowadays, Lena is looking for a lot more. When Randall, her husband, humiliates her in front of dinner guests and the children disrespect her, Lena decides to pack her bags and follow her dreams. Just as her idol, Tina Turner, she wants to turn her life around. Like Tina did, she wants to make her dreams come true. With the help of her sister, Bobbie, and her best friend, Cheryl, Lena is looking forward to change. Will Randall and the children prevent Lena from finally pursuing her dreams? "Searching for Tina Turner" was a good read. I'm the same age as Lena, and I can definitely relate to and identify with her. It seems after living and doing so much for others, you get an itch to do something meaningful and exclusively for yourself. Reviewed by: Carmen
She has it all, money, a beautiful house, 2 wonderful children, a loving husband, but Lena isn't happy. This is how her husband Randall and his friends see her life, truth is money cannot buy happiness. Her husband is more concerned with his career and having a dutiful wife as he rises to be the first black CEO of his company. Her son has dropped out of college and has a drug habit, her daughter is sick of her name, extremely intelligent, and at the age of everyone's life should revolve around her. Lena has put her dream of becoming a photographer on hold time and time again, to be the wife she is expected to be. Her husband gives her an ultimatum, live with it or get a divorce. Using the autobiography of Tina Turner, who Lena idolizes, for strength and wisdom, she opts for divorce and starts her life over. Friends take sides but her sister understands and sends her a plane ticket and tickets to a Tina Turner concert in Nice, France, which happens to be close to where Tina Turner has a home. Lena spends 3 weeks abroad hoping to meet Tina, but actually finding herself after 25 years of putting everyone else needs before her own. While Lena's husband was never physically abusive like Ike was with Tina, the emotional abuse was truly there. I really came to hate the husband in this story, the daughter was just going through typical coming of age angst, but the son's drug abuse was a serious issue his father really didn't take seriously, so Lena had to handle it. Sadly there are many families going through the same issues in this world and fighting to hold it all together. I am glad Lena was able to stay true to herself and start to follow her dream. This story is not a new one, but the time spent in France, the vivid description of the places, the people, the food and the wine, made you feel like you were actually there. The "snapshots" Lena was taking added so much vivid color to the story. You just knew she was going to survive her past and move on to her future. This really saved this book from being just another book about an unhappy marriage.
Searching for Tina Turner tells the story of a woman dealing with the all too common problem of having lost herself in her marriage and children. Before she married Randall, Lena had big dreams of being a professional photographer. As a wife and mother she finds her dreams always being sacrificed for the good of the family of her husband's ambitious career. When she fights for her dreams her marriage begins to fall apart and her children become resentful. Struggling to find a balance Lena turns to Tina Turner for advice. The cute and breezy dust jacket could lead you to believe that this is a light, fun read with little substance, but you would be wrong! Jacqueline Luckett writes of a woman trying to discover herself with passion and wisdom and a rare understanding for the difficulties and heartbreak involved. Lena comes across as a fully realized character with depth and humor, falling into the same pitfalls we all do. I loved that Luckett refused to give her the easy way out of her troubles. I really enjoyed this book and will look forward to Jacqueline Luckett's next novel.
Lena Spencer has it all. Married to Randall, one of the few black CEO's of a major corporation, she has a lovely home, all the material possessions one could wish for, a son in college, a daughter about to graduate high school and a circle of friends who love her cooking and advice. But that vision is on the outside looking in. From the inside, Lena has reached age fifty-four and feels empty. Her son has left college due to drug problems and her daughter rarely talks to her. Her husband uses her as a tool to further his career, and her friends are fair-weather ones. She feels as if she has nothing that is truly hers and that she has lost her dreams in the service of others. Lena's dream is to operate a photography studio. She's had a business plan for years, but has put off starting her business as her husband climbs ever higher in the corporate world. Instead, she has helped him write speeches, strategized meetings, and served as his hostess. He kept promising that her turn will come, but now that it's time, he still refuses to support her in finding her dream. Desparate to carve out something for herself, Lena finds a biography of Tina Turner. Reading how Tina left her husband at age forty-five and went on to become a bigger musical star without him gives Lena the courage to insist on her plans. When Randall won't help, she moves out and takes the steps necessary to make her dreams a reality. This book is recommended for all readers. Jacqueline Luckett has captured the feeling of imprisonment that many women face, along with the reality that they have given up what they wanted to help everyone they love find what is important to them. This is an interesting debut novel.
Jacqueline Luckett's Searching for Tina Turner hits close to home for me. I have had the pleasure of meeting this author twice at her readings in Oakland and San Francisco recently. This book tells the story of Lena, the main character, of her search for Tina Turner after reading the book, I Tina. Lena and Randall have been married for about 25 years. She has a successful husband, two children and a lovely home in the Oakland hills. Even though she has all these material things such as extravagant clothes, jewelry and a red convertible Mercedes, she is not happy and there is something missing in her life - her dream to open a photo gallery. She stands behind her man, helping him to reach his goal at TIDA. She also provides all she can for her two children who are spoiled, take her for granted and show no appreciation. She basically caters to all their needs, but somewhere along the way it is not reciprocated. Her dream is not important and/or significant to them to care, and it is put on hold for a long time. Her husband, Randall, gives her an ultimatum and tells her to get her act together or leave. (Well, there is a saying, "be careful of what you wish for, it may not be what you want".) After separating from her husband, and the dissolution of marriage agreement is signed, and being inspired by Tina Turner's biography, she chooses to leave, to find herself, to grow, to become independent, to travel with her friend, Cheryl, on an adventurous journey to France, hoping to see and talk to the woman who has inspired her, who has given her the courage and strength to move forward. Lo and behold! Her husband shows up in Paris, wanting her to come home...he misses her, the family misses her. (She called his bluff about the divorce and he thought he had the upperhand.) Her husband gives her a bracelet from Cartier, hoping to win her back. Because he is so obsessed with becoming successful in his company, he thinks giving her something with great monetary value would make her happy, but whatever happened to respect and tenderness? It's too late, she has taken the course of pursuing her dream and is content, very content that she has captured it without her husband and children. She does it with help from her sister, Bobbie, and her friend, Cheryl. Even her mother, Lulu, is proud of her accomplishments that Lena leaves Randall to not only pursue a dream, to rise to a challenge to become independent, but also to show the courage and strength to leave. Just as Tina Turner, Lena is definitely a woman of fortitude.
I have sat and thought about how to describe Searching for Tina Turner. The subject matter isn't the cheeriest - - the breakdown and dissolution of a marriage against the backdrop of legendary singer Tina Turner's struggles. And yet, Searching for Tina Turner left me pleased and satisfied. What stands out most to me about this first time effort from author Jacqueline E. Luckett is that this book is a veritable smorgasboard of affection for France. Reading the portions taking place in France, I yearned myself to see Paris and the French countryside, as well as the wonderful little cafes and restaurants with their delicious chocolates and pastries. Lena came alive during this portion of the book and as a reader, I felt I did too. I liked Lena as the central character. Reading a book dealing with such a heavy, emotional subject can be draining and it's easy to find fault with your hero or heroine - - either they don't grieve enough to be realistic or they grieve so much, while being realistic, that the book is simply too depressing to read. I found neither problem with Searching for Tina Turner. Lena grieved and she hurt, demonstrating she was nothing if not human, but she managed to go on. Not without difficulty but her struggle was rewarding. Lena was also strong - - strong emotionally and strong as a character. Her husband Randall made me crazy - - but I could also see how and why Lena fell in love with him, an added bonus to comprehending Lena and developing a connection with her. I also enjoyed Lena's friend Cheryl, a woman who is unapologetically happy to be and remain single and thrills at the dating scene. She provided a nice contrast between herself and Lena. On a completely shallow note, I really love the cover. It makes the book look fun and jaunty and although the story isn't exactly humorous or lighthearted, it was a rewarding experience to read it and share in Lena's growth and progression. Kudos to Ms. Luckett for a gratifying and worthwhile first book. I truly found pleasure in Lena's journey and Ms. Luckett's writing was descriptive, vivid and erudite. I look forward to her next literary effort.
Even though it moves quickly, Searching for Tina Turner isn't a book that you read in one sitting. It's worth following the characters and savoring the changes and realizations that Lena goes through. The book opens with Lena watching Tina Turner dancing on TV. She's brought back to the memory of her courtship with Randall and since she misses him badly, she calls to tell him how she's thinking of him. He's in Hong Kong and it's 4 am and he's in the middle of a deal. At that moment, I'm fully behind Randall when he rebukes her. But Jacqueline Luckett is great at creating full bodied and authentic characters, so that we understand their motivations, strengths and flaws. As Searching For Tina Turner progresses and Luckett reveals more about Lena, her life of luxury, and the accommodations that she's made for her husband, her children, and her friends, the story blossoms, Lena comes very much alive and I couldn't help cheer her on. Searching for Tina Turner is a story of a woman who was willing to give up everything that she had and to start over - it's a story of facing fears, gaining courage and being true to yourself. ISBN-10: 0446542962 - Hardcover $24.99 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 27, 2010), 320 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER Jacqueline E. Luckett Grand Central Publishing ISBN: 978-0-446-54296-8 320 Pages $24.99 - Hardcover Reviewer : Annie Slessman SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER by Jacqueline E. Luckett describes the life of a woman whose life would be the envy of most women..a life of luxury. She has a handsome, successful husband, two spoiled children and parents who have no understanding of the unhappiness she expresses to them. Lena Spencer, the main character of this work, has spent twenty-five years pursuing the happiness of her family and has forgotten in the process to tend to her own needs. When she decides she needs to discover the happiness she has somehow lost, she does so at the cost of her husband, her family life and her financial security. In an attempt to rediscover herself she takes strength from her hero, Tina Turner. Tina's book, Searching for Tina Turner, is always within Lena's reach. After leaving her home, her family and her former life, Lena takes a trip to Europe where she plans to attend a Tina Turner concert and spend some time on herself. What she discovers during this trip is more than Lena bargains for and spins her life in a new direction. This book would appeal to women who have spent their lives taking care of others at the expense of their own self-worth and to those who have questioned their lives, their marriages and their very existence. This is Jacqueline Luckett's first book. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.
I really enjoyed this book. I think one of my favorite things was when lyrics to Tina Turner songs were mentioned, I found myself singing along. I don't read much women's fiction (reviewing has me branching out), so this book feels fresh and new to me. At first I wasn't sure what I thought of the book. Was Lena giving up on her marriage to easy? I mean I have some similar thoughts - I do lose myself at times and Lena's mom's advice does ring true to someone in a good relationship with some bumps, but not to someone in Lena's case. So I found myself sinking into the story and liking Lena more and more. I found the premise and Lena's search interesting. It kept me turning the pages and Lena's character kept me engaged. I liked the look at the different people in her life. Lulu, her mother and her old school ways, Bobbie, her sister and her new ways and her friends. All made interesting contributions to the story. An enjoyable women's fiction story of how taking that chance just might be the answer you are looking for. I didn't feel like the book condoned divorce or anything like that. I think it was just a way of showing how women can get stuck in a rut whether it's a bad marriage, work or just life and sometimes we need to take a chance to get out of that rut and really make our life what it should be.