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WHO ASKED YOU? by Terry McMillan


by Terry McMillan

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-78569-8
Publisher: Viking

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.