Friday, February 5, 2010

Review of Searching for Tina Turner by Jacqueline E. Luckett

Searching for Tina TurnerThe blurb:
In this inspiring and empowering debut novel reminiscent of the early works of Terry McMillan, a woman in crisis book to singer Tina Turner for strength. On their first date more than thirty years ago, Randall Spencer took Lena to an Ike and Tina Turner concert. From the minute they sat down in the fifth row, Lena knew that Randall wanted to impress her even though he didn't need to-she would have gone anywhere just to be close to him. Yet now, after twenty-three years of marriage, Lena is missing one important thing...happiness.

On the surface it looks like she has everything a woman could wish for: a rich husband, two wonderful children, and a life of luxury. The reality is that her husband is emotionally distant, her son has developed a drug habit, and her daughter is disgusted by her mother's "overbearing behavior."

Determined to save her failing marriage Lena suggests going to a marriage counselor to get to the root of her unhappiness and to find the gem that they once called love. But in the sessions Randall doesn't understand Lena's frustration and makes it clear that she is the one with the problem. When the counseling seems futile, he offers his wife an ultimatum: Be grateful for all I've done for you or leave. Embracing her fear of wasting her life, Lena chooses the latter and leaves behind everything that she's known.

Drawing on the strength of Tina Turner's life story, Searching for Tina Turner is Lena's struggle to find herself after twenty-three years of being Randall's wife.

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.

Searching for Tina Turner made me think about making changes even when you think that you're too old to do so. I've felt too old to make changes at different stages of my life, in my 20s, mid-30s, and now that I've turned 40. It made me think of my mother, who in her mid-60s has just agreed to take a job halfway across the world to head a woman's college. She'd retired five years ago, moved to Boston and created a life for herself here. She works through ABCD Elder Services and handles fall prevention education. She is a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She's often at the gym, exploring Boston or visiting New York. It took a lot of energy and effort to build a life in a new country, new city. But in December, her old school called to ask her to return to the Philippines to head the woman's college and though she doesn't want to leave her life here, she's excited by the challenge and will start over again. Searching for Tina Turner celebrates Lena and her courage and triumphs and as I read it, I couldn't help think of my mother and other women who have rebuilt their lives even as they felt too old to do so.

ISBN-10: 0446542962 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 27, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Jacqueline E. Luckett is a former sales representative from Xerox who after leaving the corporate world, dared herself to take a creative writing class. She began writing short stories and poetry and has never looked back. The San Fransisco Bay area native loves living in Oakland, but she travels frequently to nurture her passion for photography and cooking exotic foods. She is currently hard at work at her next novel.

Learn more at Jacqueline E. Luckett's website at Listen to an interview with Jacqueline E. Luckett at Blog Talk Radio at

Thank you so much to Jacqueline Luckett, Miriam, and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

1 comment:

  1. Wow... great review, thank you! I have always loved Tina Turner. I admire her strength and courage to rebuild. Your mother sounds like a lovely woman I would like to meet one day. What a leap of faith to arise to the challenge... I like that!