Saturday, September 14, 2013

Who Asked You by Terry McMillan book review

Who Asked You is a family mess story.  The book starts with the main character - BJ (Betty Jean) frying chicken for her Alzheimer's addled husband and contemplating her choices.  BJ's life hasn't gone as she hoped...two of her children didn't turn out well (one a drug addict and the other in jail) and the third has abandoned the ghetto and his past for a string of white wives and professional stability.

BJ is black; her best friend is white but married to a black man.  Race and the author's political agenda do weigh heavy on the novel.  But McMillan is a skilled author and she makes the story work despite...or perhaps because of her agenda.

BJ has worked delivering room service at a high end hotel after choosing marriage and kids over college.  Now her daughter dumps her two boys on BJ and disappears.  Chaos doesn't ensue but BJ's world changes fast.  Then her son gets paroled and moves in.

This book is about family and how we're stuck with them and their drama.  And it's a fun and enjoyable book; more commercial and accessible than deep.  It's also local, discussing LA, my town, and written by an author who lives in Pasadena.

I really enjoyed the book.  What I didn't like was the alternating first person narratives.  First person is tough in the best case; alternating first person perspectives provides the author with a short cut in character development but at the cost of confusing the audience.

I still really enjoyed the book and recommend it for those who like family survival stories and the humanity that comes as we suffer for our choices..

A good read.

And the book comes out September 17, 2013.

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