My Love Story by Tina Turner

“My Love Story” by Tina Turner (with Deborah Davis and Dominik Wichmann)
c.2018, Atria Books
$28.00 / $34.99 Canada
260 pages

Just wait.

Two words that are impossible to hear, especially if you have big plans. Hold on, don’t veer off-course, work the plan, hard as it may be. Just wait. As in My Love Story” by Tina Turner, good things really do come to those who do.

If you’ve come to this book solely because of the name of the author, you probably don’t need to be told about her early adult life. Even so, it bears repeating:

Anna Mae Bullock was born in November 1939 on a farm near a tiny Tennessee town. Hers was a difficult childhood; her mother, who mostly rejected Anna Mae, tired of her marriage and abandoned it when Anna Mae was 11 years old. Two years later, Anna Mae’s father abandoned the family, too, so Anna Mae moved to St. Louis to live with her estranged mother.

She took one important thing with her.

“Even as a little girl,” says Turner, “I knew I could sing… I was born with that talent. My voice was my gift and I knew how to use it.”

Because her sister was old enough to go to St. Louis clubs, Anna Mae managed to tag along, and that was where she met Ike Turner, a womanizer who ignored Anna Mae until he heard her sing. Not long afterward, he started paying her to be onstage and they became friends. He was “ugly,” she was “skinny and all voice,” but they were a team until they started sleeping together, she became pregnant, they got married-not-married, and the fighting began.

Ike seemed to feel as though he owned Turner; for sure, he owned her name, since he’d registered it as a trademark. He told her what to do and where to be, didn’t trust her, beat her, slept with other women and didn’t bother to hide it. She endured it, waiting for things to get better, until one hot July night, she fought back, and she ran…

Admittedly, a story you (sort-of) already know makes up the bulk of this book. If you’ve come to it for the promise of the title, you’ll read about “My Love Story” in the first 18 pages. So why pick it up, then?

Wait. There are a few rock-your-world moments inside author Tina Turner’s memoir, things she says she’s never admitted before, memories she’d rather not revisit, nuggets that were rumors ‘til now. These come wrapped in steely pulses of determination and power, all saucy and flippant but studded with soft notes of pain as Turner also tells about illness, family, personal losses, and missed opportunities.

But wait: This isn’t a poor-me tale. Though Turner writes (with Deborah Davis and Dominik Wichmann) about challenges, gratefulness beams between sentences. So do words of inspiration, so-whatever humor, and that wonderful romance.

Wait. That love story you’re promised? It’s a perfect bow atop a not-anywhere-near perfect life, and for readers who want a memoir with a minimum of gratuitous name-dropping, but heavy on sassitude and triumph, “My Love Story” tells it right.

So why wait?

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