Reviews for Who Asked You?


Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Transplanted from New Orleans in her youth, Betty Jean (BJ) is now a middle-aged, well-established Angeleno, living in a racially diverse working-class neighborhood with her share of heartaches and hardships. She works for room service at a hotel and cares for her husband, a former UPS driver, as he succumbs to Alzheimer's. Her oldest son, a doctor, maintains his distance from "the hood," which has taken its toll on another son (incarcerated) and a daughter (drug-addicted). BJ is now stuck raising her daughter's two sons amid worries about crumbling schools and neighborhood drug-dealing and gangbanging. BJ's two sisters, Arlene and Venetia, are much better off economically but have their own marital and childrearing challenges. Tammy, BJ's best friend and longtime neighbor (the last remaining white person on the block), hangs in there for her friend, although she has plenty of problems of her own. Told from the perspectives of several of the characters, the novel offers an array of personalities and everyday life challenges within a story of close friends, family, and neighbors as they grow and change over many years. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The eighth novel from the best-selling author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back will be supported by a major marketing campaign and a 15-city author tour. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2013 October
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.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
The years pass, and McMillan's (Waiting to Exhale, 1992, etc.) characters have moved from buppiedom to grandmotherhood. Betty Jean is not having a good day when we first meet her. She's in the kitchen, frying chicken, when her wayward 27-year-old daughter, Trinetta, calls, begging for money and adding, "the good news is I might have a job and I was wondering if I could bring the boys over for a couple of days." Trinetta admits to taking a pull or a snort every now and again, but to nothing stronger. The problem is, drugs have swept across Trinetta's generation ("all drugs, not just some...will fuck you up every time and make you do a lot of stupid shit and you won't get nowhere in life except maybe prison"), leaving it to the elders to pick up the pieces--and when it's not drugs, then it's some other form of culture destroyer, for Betty Jean's eldest child is a chiropractor in Oregon, "where hardly any black people live, which has made it very easy for him to forget he's black." Betty Jean's sisters, Arlene and Venetia, are formidable, too, and with troubles of their own--though in Venetia's case, there's an attractive young man, white at that, who's constantly making goo-goo eyes at her, making her forget that she's married and of a certain age. Naturally, complications ensue at every turn. Moving from character to character and their many points of view, McMillan writes jauntily and with customary good humor, though the sensitive ground on which she's treading is not likely to please all readers; even so, her story affirms the value of love and family, to say nothing of the strength of resolute women in the absence of much strength on the part of those few men who happen to be in the vicinity. McMillan turns in a solid, well-told story. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #1
The years pass, and McMillan's (Waiting to Exhale, 1992, etc.) characters have moved from buppiedom to grandmotherhood. Betty Jean is not having a good day when we first meet her. She's in the kitchen, frying chicken, when her wayward 27-year-old daughter, Trinetta, calls, begging for money and adding, "the good news is I might have a job and I was wondering if I could bring the boys over for a couple of days." Trinetta admits to taking a pull or a snort every now and again, but to nothing stronger. The problem is, drugs have swept across Trinetta's generation ("all drugs, not just some...will fuck you up every time and make you do a lot of stupid shit and you won't get nowhere in life except maybe prison"), leaving it to the elders to pick up the pieces--and when it's not drugs, then it's some other form of culture destroyer, for Betty Jean's eldest child is a chiropractor in Oregon, "where hardly any black people live, which has made it very easy for him to forget he's black." Betty Jean's sisters, Arlene and Venetia, are formidable, too, and with troubles of their own--though in Venetia's case, there's an attractive young man, white at that, who's constantly making goo-goo eyes at her, making her forget that she's married and of a certain age. Naturally, complications ensue at every turn. Moving from character to character and their many points of view, McMillan writes jauntily and with customary good humor, though the sensitive ground on which she's treading is not likely to please all readers; even so, her story affirms the value of love and family, to say nothing of the strength of resolute women in the absence of much strength on the part of those few men who happen to be in the vicinity. McMillan turns in a solid, well-told story. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #4

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)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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