Rage To Survive: The Etta James Story by Etta James & David Ritz
Etta James is one of those celebrities you hear about and wondered what happened to. Up until a few years ago, I thought she was deceased. You don’t hear much about or from here these days, but she is alive and kicking.
Jamesetta Hawkins was the product of a 14 year old African-American mother and a white father (who is rumored to be Minnesota Fats the pool shark). This book chronicles her tumultuous childhood complete with absent mother. It goes on to talk of her rise to stardom and her demise through various types of drugs. It also goes on to talk about her failed romantic relationships, criminal activity and stints in prison and rehab.
Pretty much your standard autobiography/memoir fare, however, Etta’s writing style makes the story more accessible. Not the queen of grammar, using double negatives all over the damn book, you still can read it with ease.
But Etta doesn’t feel sorry for herself; she falls down and stands up over and over again. Each chapter there is something awful happening in her life, and you would think this would make a depressing read, but it doesn’t.
This book was published in the early 1990s, and the story stops sometime after she was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll hall of fame. The last chapter of this book, she talks about how she is still overweight and working toward being leaner and healthier. I looked her up recently, and she has succeeded.
She is now in her early 70s and looks like she weighs 120 lbs…a far cry from the 300+ lbs she weighed toward the end of her book.
This book was enlightening and I’m glad there are still some strong black women in this world. Etta James is a survivor.