Who Asked You? is the latest by Terry McMillan that is sure to be a fan favorite. It's actually my favorite book that I've read so far from the woman who has given the world classics such asWaiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and Mama.Who Asked You? is sure to get fans back who were less than thrilled with others such as Getting To Happy.
So... of course many may wonder who asked me my opinion on this book. I answer that it's what I do. It's what many people do. We offer unsolicited advice on subjects we may or may not know anything about. Betty Jean has a lot of people handing out advice all the while hiding their own issues or refusing the unsolicited advice that is being given back to them. You know that whole no give-sies back-sies? That is this family.
Who Asked You? opens with the voice of Betty Jean who is the primary character in McMillan's latest. She's the quinessential matriarch who's balancing a life of chaos while placing her own needs in the background. She's the mother of a chiropractor (Quinten) who's just too good for his "ghetto" family, a gorgeous drug-addicted daughter (Trinetta) who abandoned her two sons, and an incarcerated angry black man (Dexter) who's "innocent". To place the icing on the cake, Betty Jean's husband is suffering from Alzheimer's.
Betty Jean is the first voice to narrate Who Asked You but she isn't the only one. McMillan introduces other voices such as Tammy (the neighbor), Arlene (bitchy sister), Venetia (Bible toter), and others who are essential to Betty Jean's world. Don't get confused by all the characters because McMillan does a superb job at keeping their voices diffrent and honest. Sure it doesn't hurt that the chapters are named for them. The two grandsons Luther and Ricky are by far the most adorable voices in the novel as well as the source of my laughter and tears.
Who Asked You? is an exploration of family and the issues that bind them together. There are actually a lot of themes that are relatable in this novel to any family regardless of their background. The idea of having second chances, marital strifes, loss, feelings of guilt, social issues, and ultimately redemption. The ending is so inspiring and makes the journey with these characters worth every minute. And what well developed characters they are.
It's often difficult reading a novel with many characters and connecting with them all. Even the ones who leave an initial bad taste in your mouth somehow find a way to break through. There is flaw after flaw in each person introduced but the chapters in they narrate add as a justification for their actions. One chapter will leave a character seeing a situation a diffrent way than the other. This transition is awesome and adds something fresh to this authors' creativity. McMillan allows her characters room for growth and we readers get to see that. I love that.
Terry McMillan manages to pack emotion after emotion into a novel that is hard to put down. I was on an emotional rollercoaster with this novel. There are also moments of classic witt that will have readers chuckling to themselves. Sayings such as what color does stupid come in. And nuggets of inspiration such as regret being a wasted emotion. I wish I could quote from this but since it is an ARC, I'll keep my highlighted passages to myself.
Who Asked You? is worth a read. I've given it 5-stars because I couldn't put it down. There's feellings of happiness, sadness, anger, and eventually calm to experience with this title. I recommend this title to anyone who's looking for a diffrent sort of novel about family that is well-written and relevant on so many topics. McMillan's fans will love this latest addition to her list of works. *****