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Who Asked You? Hardcover – September 17, 2013

926 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)

From Booklist

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. --Vanessa Bush
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670785695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670785698
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (926 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Hoffman on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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 as Waiting 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.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Marlene Murphy on September 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My only disappointment was how quickly I got through this book, although that is my fault, not the author's. The story line was realistic and engaging. Throughout the book I found several characters who reminded me of friends and family members, and several relatable situations. The story took me through a range of emotions and I found myself laughing, crying or shaking my head through much of this book. This is a keeper which I am sure I will re-read, gift and recommend over and again. I loved this book. I highy recommend it to all.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By T. Hall on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Who Asked You? Well nobody did! But that doesn't mean that everyone in Terry McMillan's latest novel doesn't have an opinion and has no qualms about sharing it. Even the two youngest members of the Butler family, Ricky and Luther are full of opinions and they are not above sharing them with everyone and anyone.

Ms. McMillan's fans will appreciate her consistency in developing characters that are covered with blemishes yet they each possess beautiful hearts. There are family secrets (Betty Jean and Arlene), generational curses (Dexter and Trinetta), socio-economic challenges (everyone), racial (Tammy and Quentin) and gender issues (Omar) galore that are confronted throughout the novel. However, they are confronted in a way that causes the reader to walk away from this wonderfully satisfying novel with a sense that everyone is heading in a positive direction.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Ward on December 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'Who Asked You?' is a witty, fun, and intelligent women's fiction novel that follows Betty Jean, known as BJ, as her two grandsons are dropped at her house and left there by her daughter. BJ's life is already full of other problems - family, friends, forgotten dreams, and her job - taking care of two small kids is the last thing that she needs right now. But is what BJ thinks she needs and what really matters the same thing? Just what lengths will people go to for family?

This was my first novel by this author and I have to admit that I was blown away. Her writing is superb and proves her to be the powerhouse writer that she's known for. The story focuses on Betty Jean, an older woman who's struggling with life's problems - family, kids, friends, her job - when her daughter simply drops off her grandsons one day and then disappears. Throughout the novel, we get to see how this unexpected burden and problem is turned into a family blessing that nobody would have seen coming. The characters in the book are all incredibly well rounded with distinct personalities and flaws. They were all written in a way that it felt like I knew them personally by the time the novel was over. I really loved getting to know them all along with their histories, problems, and whatever issues were plaguing them. The writing was intelligent with lots of wit and humor and insight into family and believing in yourself. The story is full of vivid descriptions and details that had me feeling like I was experiencing the events in the book right along with the characters. Highly recommended for fans of women's fiction, chick lit, and those looking for a funny and honest look into family and life.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By anu shaheed VINE VOICE on September 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
OMG!!! I so enjoyed who asked you, I loved all the character's kinda of reminded me of my crazy family
so many different personalities' but so much
love of course BETTY is my favorite I love
her spunk and love for all of her grandchildren
just love this wacky family period!!!
what a great comeback...its funny I had readers block
but this good story put an end to that
KIDDOS
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