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Who Asked You?
by Terry McMillan

Overview -

Family ties are tested and transformed in the new novel from #1 "New York Times "bestselling author of "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
With her wise, wry, and poignant novels of families and friendships--"Waiting to Exhale," "Getting to Happy," and "A Day Late and a Dollar Short "among them--Terry McMillan has touched millions of readers.  Read more...


 
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More About Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan
 
 
 
Overview

Family ties are tested and transformed in the new novel from #1 "New York Times "bestselling author of "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
With her wise, wry, and poignant novels of families and friendships--"Waiting to Exhale," "Getting to Happy," and "A Day Late and a Dollar Short "among them--Terry McMillan has touched millions of readers. Now, in her eighth novel, McMillan gives exuberant voice to characters who reveal how we live now--at least as lived in a racially diverse Los Angeles neighborhood.
Kaleidoscopic, fast-paced, and filled with McMillan's inimitable humor, "Who Asked You?" opens as Trinetta leaves her two young sons with her mother, Betty Jean, and promptly disappears. BJ, a trademark McMillan heroine, already has her hands full dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams--all while holding down a job delivering room service at a hotel. Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can't be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs. The drama unfolds through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters, pitch-perfect, each playing a part, and full of surprises.
"Who Asked You? "casts an intimate look at the burdens and blessings of family and speaks to trusting your own judgment even when others don't agree. McMillan's signature voice and unforgettable characters bring universal issues to brilliant, vivid life.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780670785698
  • ISBN-10: 0670785695
  • Publisher: Viking Books
  • Publish Date: September 2013
  • Page Count: 400
  • Reading Level: Ages 18-UP


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > African American - Contemporary Women
Books > Fiction > Family Life

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-07-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

Three generations take a long hard look at each other—and, finding lots not to like, try to outrun, ignore, or beat the demons pulling them together in this well-crafted story of acceptance, forgiveness, and hope. McMillan (Waiting to Exhale) deftly weaves her tale of a black Los Angeles family’s disharmony around the narratives of bickering sisters Betty Jean, Arlene, and Venetia as they watch their kids stumble into adulthood. BJ’s drug-addled daughter, Trinetta—who lost custody of her baby girl—dumps two sons on her; meanwhile BJ’s youngest son, Dexter, does prison time for a crime he won’t admit to, and her eldest, Quentin, searches for himself. Arlene, a single mom who has a master’s in psychology and harbors a painful secret, struggles with over-protecting her long-closeted gay son, Omar. And wealthy, God-fearing Venetia can’t see what’s plain to her spoiled kids and husband: that she’s been ignoring her own needs and her crumbling marriage. Trinetta’s strong-hearted kids lead the family back to each other—but McMillan’s story belongs to the middle-aged steel magnolias who value loyalty above all. “I have prayed for all of us to come to our senses even though I know it’s an ongoing process,” Venetia says. “We’re not getting any younger and family is family.” Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (Sept. 17)

 
BookPage Reviews

A little help for an overwhelmed matriarch

No one does slice-of-life like Terry McMillan, whose latest novel sets us down in a shabby modern-day Los Angeles neighborhood where Betty Jean Butler struggles to make ends meet and keep her family together.

Her daughter, Trinetta, is caught in the clutches of drug addiction. Her son, Dexter, is in prison for a foolish carjacking. And her other son, Quentin, is a successful chiropractor who wants nothing to do with his family. Add to all this a husband succumbing to senility, two busybody sisters and a fulltime job at a local hotel, and Betty Jean’s hands aren’t just full—they’re overflowing. Luckily, Betty Jean has a wisecracking best friend across the street to lean on, and a sassy nurse to help care for her husband—even if that care is delivered in a way found in no medical textbook.

When Trinetta leaves her two young sons with Betty Jean before disappearing into the streets, Betty Jean knows something’s got to give.

“Even though I haven’t told anybody, I’m scared,” she says. “What if I can’t handle all this responsibility? What if I’ve forgotten how to be a parent? . . . I don’t want them to turn out like mine did. I want them to be proud, honest, dignified, civil, kind and loving. I want them to be strangers to trouble.”

Betty Jean has to swallow her pride and ask for help in ways she never imagined. Slowly, in their own ways, friends and family band together to help her raise the boys, who have promising futures despite their troubled past.

McMillan will likely always be best known for her runaway bestsellers How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale, both made into movies. But Who Asked You? stands up to any of McMillan’s previous work, with a cast of wholly memorable characters and a plucky heroine you genuinely want to win. Although McMillan writes primarily about African-American families, her ever-present wry humor and keen portrayal of love in all its exasperating imperfection make her work universal.

 
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