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A Day Late and a Dollar Short Hardcover – January 15, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (January 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670896764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670896769
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (433 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Terry McMillan's novels feature chatty, catty narrators who have a story they're just busting to tell you. The dominant voice in A Day Late and a Dollar Short is Viola Price, whose asthma just sent her to the ICU. And who came to visit? The Jheri Curl-wearing Cecil, "a bad habit I've had for thirty-eight years, which would make him my husband." Viola doesn't think Cecil's such a catch: "His midlife crisis done lasted about 20 years now," and "to set the record straight, Cecil look like he about four months pregnant." But somebody did catch Cecil--he recently left Viola for "some welfare huzzy" with three kids. And, as we soon find out in Cecil's first-person chapter, Viola has abundant flaws of her own. McMillan deftly sketches the exasperated intimacy of the long and unsuccessfully married.

She also has great dish about family dynamics. Have Cecil and Viola's kids got problems! When lovable, luck-free Lewis turns up to visit his mom, he's drunk, broke, and still whining about his ex, Donnetta, who "didn't have as much sense as a Christmas turkey" (though she did have the sense to dump Lewis). Now Lewis consoles himself with his Bobbing Betty doll. "How could somebody with an IQ of 146 be so stupid?" marvels Viola. And that Charlotte! Viola's daughter is "a bossy wench from the word go." (Gee, where could she have gotten that trait?) Charlotte feels like she never got her fair share of attention, having been born 10 months after the eldest daughter, Paris (now the driven mom of a brilliant athlete whose white girlfriend claims she's pregnant). Charlotte took it out on younger Lewis and Janelle, who's been in college 15 years with no degree in sight.

At first, you'll make ample use of the family charts in the endpapers to figure out who's who, but pretty soon you'll feel right at home with the squabbling, multiply dysfunctional, ultimately loving Price clan. You may agree with Viola: "Some folks got some stuff that can top ours. Hell, look at the Kennedys." --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

Viola Price is the truth-telling, trash-talking Las Vegas matriarch at the center of McMillan's eagerly awaited new novel. As the book begins, Viola is in the hospital recovering from a devastating asthma attack, and she's decided to turn her life around, even if it means causing her large, unruly clan a little discomfort. Lewis, Viola's only son, is a drifter, handicapped both by his genius IQ and his alcoholism. Janelle, the youngest child, is perpetually searching for the perfect career, while ignoring signs that her 12-year-old daughter is in trouble. Viola's relationship with her perpetually angry middle daughter, Charlotte, is so volatile that Charlotte periodically hangs up in the middle of phone conversations, while Paris, Viola's eldest, appears to be brilliantly successful, but is actually desperately lonely and has developed a dependency on pills to maintain her superwoman act. To add to the confusion, Cecil, Viola's husband of 40 years, has moved in with his girlfriend, Brenda, a welfare mother pregnant with a child that may or may not be his. The story of how the family puts it back together is told from the perspective of all six main characters, and McMillan moves easily and skillfully from voice to voice. The characters are not entirely sympatheticDlike Viola, McMillan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) doesn't sugarcoat the truthDbut knowing their weaknesses does make their acts of courage all the more meaningful. This is a moving and true depiction of an American family, driven apart and bound together by the real stuff of life: love, loss, grief, infidelity, addiction, pregnancy, forgiveness and the IRS. (Jan. 15) Forecast: Gutsier and less glitzy than How Stella Got Her Groove Back, McMillan's latest has perhaps the broadest appeal of any of her novels. A major national advertising campaign, national publicity, a TV and radio satellite tour and a 12-city author tour will get the word out and drive the book toward the top of the charts.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Terry McMillan fell in love with books as a teenager while working at the local library. She studied journalism at UC Berkeley and screenwriting at Columbia before making her fiction debut with Mama, which one both the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction Award and the American Book Award. She lives in Northern California.

Customer Reviews

This book had me laughing and crying.
Fuzzy Lizard
I LOVED this book because it was HILARIOUS, easy and fun to read, the characters were very well developed, and it was easy to relate to.
J Brown
I really enjoyed this book and was very sad when it ended.
spage@mail.state.tn.us

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Cydney Rax on January 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A Day Late and A Dollar Short is the type of book that makes you feel so many different things: proud, because you're happy that Terry McMillan is so adept at 'telling it like it is', telling 'our' stories, and making our story everyone else's too; sad, because when you're reading about the problems of these characters, you realize they are so much like your own; and warm, because a book like this helps steer our busy lives back to what's most important in life, such as family.
While reading this novel, I laughed, shook my head, and said 'amen' quite a few times. The writing is simple, very detailed but in a good kind of way, and it feels so 'right now' even though the setting of the story takes place in the mid-90's. Everything about it is appealing, from the wide range of characters (lots of kids, adults, and some seniors), to the moving way the writer takes you inside the lives of these people. By the time you finish reading, you may feel like these people actually exist, and in a way I guess they really do. An excellent and highly recommended read.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "crislite" on January 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved it! I loved it! I loved it! I never, ever write reviews about anything, but I received this book as a Christmas gift and I screamed the moment I opened it. From page 1, I was hooked. The characters, the family, the whole concept of lineage, it's here in a nutshell. I loved each character's perspective on life. And you know everyone in this book, if she was your girlfriend in high school or your the hoochie you hated next door! To be honest I wasn't too happy with her last book and being an avid reader I opened the pages hesistantly hoping this wasn't written with a movie in mind. I was pleased. Additionally, I haven't been reading much fiction since I had been feeling that the new themes (man stealing, etc.) weren't appealing to me. She's back ya'll and she's in full swing. Thank the Lord, because I had been missing what good fiction was really all about.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. Henderson on January 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Terry McMillan is renowned for her witty yet prolific ways of telling the modern African American love story with its ups and downs. I enjoyed this book immensely because she strayed away from this pattern of writing that has made her so popular. Because she is such a great writer, her readers will follow. This story (as her books in the past have done)is told from many different points of view which makes it strike everyone who reads it. Every reader will be able to relate to the story line of the book. Ms. McMillan totally captivates her audience and draws you into the world of the characters of her book. You will begin to develop feelings for the characters as if they are friends that you have known for years. This takes tremendous talent and Ms. McMillan should be commended, once again. Enjoy.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Denise M. on January 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved this novel. Although I speak with my parents and sister quite frequently, it made me stop, pick up the phone, call them and tell them that I love them. This book makes you stop and think about those things that are truly important in life. I have read all of Ms. McMillan's novels and this is a much different novel than her others.
This story is about the Price family which consists of 3 daughters, a son, mother and father. Viola Price has spent her life raising her children to be the best they can be. Although each one of her children has their own particular issues, as a mother, she recognizes each ones special talents but more importantly, their special needs. As any mother, she worries about her grown children and hopes the best for them.
The novel opens with Viola in the ICU unit of the hospital after she has suffered an asthma attack. Her thoughts about her family and estranged husband provide the backdrop for the rest of the novel. As she approaches her 55th birthday, she vows not to allow her children to worry her into the grave and also vows to live her life and do the things that make her happy. To that end, she does make some changes in her life.
The story also focuses on her relationship with her children and their relationship with each other. Each child is different, each with his/her own dreams and needs. Lewis, the only boy is intellectually the smartest but is having difficulty finding his way. Paris, the oldest has everything money can by but has a void in her heart. Janelle, the follower, comes to a point where she is called upon to protect herself, stand up for herself and take some measure of control concerning those things which happen in her world.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Yasmin Coleman on February 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Terry is back and gosh did she meet my expectations!
A Day Late and A Dollar Short (DLDS) is a tale about family secrets, tragedies and triumphs. Go with McMillian to Las Vegas and uncover the story of Viola and Cecil Price and their four adult children. Viola is the matriarch and the central character of the storyline, however the story is told in the first person voice of each of the six main characters. McMillian hits close to home for many with this storyline which provides a very believable and realistic look at families. While the Prices happen to be African American, actually their situations and exploits are colorblind and could easily represent any family.
DLDS touches on issues of sibling rivalry, adultery, unplanned pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, rape, incest, and homosexuality. Dysfunctionality abounds and no matter what the gender of the character or whether the character is a major or minor player they are all flawed for the most part (except for maybe Ms. Loretta).
As I read DLDS I encountered love and hate, joy and sorrow, happiness and anger. There were some LOL scenes, some scenes which made me grit my teeth and other scenes which made me shake my head and say..."uumph, uumph, uumph". DLDS is an excellent book that's well written and includes in-depth character development along with unexpected plot twist and turns. Terry is back and she's on her game! Pick up DLDS today and get to know the Price Family...hey you might even meet some family members along the way or better yet you might come face to face with yourself. ...
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