Book Review: Damaged Goods by Tyra Denine

Damaged Goods
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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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Damaged Goods by Tyra Denine”

  1. Oops…don’t think this one is a giveway,,but still a great review…I think I will have to pick this one up for some good winter time reading…Thanks again Joey !

  2. Sounds so interesting and heartfelt. I commend her for putting pen to paper on such difficult topics. We need more enlightenment on issues that can bring growth and transformation.

  3. JOEYPINKNEY.COM NOTE: I deleted the previous two comments because the first comment was very inflammatory and not the type of direction I want for this site. I don’t mind the truth, but I don’t want my site to become a spot to air out vulgar beefs. The second comment didn’t make sense without the first one. The comment below is in response to the two deleted comments. It is very informative and worthwhile to read.

    Tyra,
    This is just my 2 cents, so please take it for what is it worth. As a friend, I would suggest not responding to these types of messages for a number of reasons.

    First of all, it is one thing to respond to intellectual inquiries and comments regarding the book. It is entirely another to take time and energy defending accusations from those who are spewing venom in unconstructive ways.

    The second reason for not responding to a message like this is because you should spend your energy continuing to be productive. Writing this book is going to help others who are not as brave as you are to deal with their childhood abuse. You want to remain focused on your real purpose and not allow people to throw obstacles in your way.

    Finally, when it comes to family members, you have to know that Psychology 101 teaches that the victim’s family (some of which were obviously also victims of abuse as indicated by your niece when she says “..all of her abuse that she “went thru” there really what her sisters went thru not her…”) will go through denial, rage, guilt, and a host of other feelings and emotions. It is an attempt to silence the one who has revealed “the secret”. These are natural reactions and abuse of any kind is a hard one to admit having been a part of – whether as victim, victimizer, or silence enabler. Some of my colleagues and sorority sisters are clinical psychologists, and I can have them take a look at this writing as well, to give you more feedback about this.

    Clearly the readers of this blog know that if the writer of that post is a niece, she wasn’t born during the time of your childhood experiences, thus it is obvious she is speaking from what she has heard others say who grew up with you at that time. Therefore, in actuality, your niece may be acting as an advocate for your sisters by revealing that they, too, experienced the same abuse. It appears that from what your niece wrote that she might feel that your writing and selling of this book is acknowledging your own abuse without giving fair credence to the abuse that your siblings also suffered.

    I’m just trying to encourage you to look more deeply at this writing – past the curse words and accusations, to what most people will see is really being said here, and try to think compassionately about those natural feelings and responses that are typical of families who have endured abuse.

    For anyone else reading this post that wants more information on this topic, I have included two websites. Please do not skip the intro on the HAVOCA site. It is a British website, but the information is available for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of adult victims of child abuse. I have also included a link of a clip from the “Oprah Show” episode with MacKenzie Phillips, which talks about how her family reacted when she came out with her book about the abuse she endured titled “High On Arrival.”

    Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse
    http://www.havoca.org

    God bless, Tyra. I admire your courage and transparency.

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