by Tyra Denine
(Double Dap Books)
5 out of 5 Stars
Tyra Denine’s Damaged Goods is powerful memoir that gives an inside look at the abusive environment that rob girls of their innocence in the poverty stricken neighborhoods scattered across America. You can judge this book by the cover. Before you can open Damaged Goods, you are confronted by the image of a naked woman. She is far from the eye candy Black readers have been spoiled with over the past couple of decades. Scratched up and chained to a box, she is a bitter pill–a reminder of a reality.
Chattel slavery lasted for over 460 years in America. Although Denine doesn’t discuss it directly, the effects of that holocaust can be witnessed in her autobiographic tale. The exhausting struggle for survival madeDenine’s mother into a mad mixture of one part love and three parts sadism. Growing up the middle child of five girls, Denine’s life was akin to a violently deranged Cinderella story. Physical, mental and sexual abuse came from all angles, not just her father and mother. Her uncles and neighbors also had free reign to beatDenine and her sisters for the smallest infraction. After her parents’ divorce, her step-father’s sexual advances while she was a pre-teen was just as disturbing as her choice to give her virginity before it was taken from her later in her teenage years.
As Denine matured into womanhood, and eventually motherhood, her life remained jagged. From the attempted rape during her teenage years to her Pro-Black ex-husband who had a penchant for White women, Damaged Goods did not fizzle out in terms of intensity. The pace slowed and the tone matured during the time she spends in the Navy, but the drama is ever-present. The effects of the abuse was seen in her low self-esteem, yet the strength and beauty of her soul remained intact. It is this strength and beauty that eventually emerged from its cocoon. That little girl with scars on her face from the slaps of her mother is now an author/publisher through God’s grace and mercy.
While portraying the ugliness of her life, Denine really sheds light on what makes her so resilient. Denine effortlessly blends her disturbing commentary with well-timed poetry. If Damaged Goods was a musical, the poems sprinkled throughout the book would be the soundtrack. With rhythms and rhymes perfectly in tune with her story, her poetry offers peaceful moments of reflection in a otherwise turbulent confession.
The prologue of Damaged Goods is so powerfully written, I wondered what the rest of the book could bring. As each chapter came and went, I felt like I was sitting in a room with Denine , glued to her every word. I listened, not because I was nosy. I listened because I was concerned about just how much she could bear before she lost her mind, her life or both. This is the perfect book for the person who thinks all is lost. Denine’s Damaged Goods is the perfect and fitting example of the cliche “everybody has a story”.
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