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A Day Late and a Dollar Short Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2002
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
her four adult kids, all of whom have their own children, and their various circumstances, relationships and dilemmas. Not about to give Viola the last word, the other family members take turns talking in each of the remaining chapters. At first it is a bit confusing trying to keep track of who's who (the audio book doesn't come with family charts, the hardcover does), but it all eventually becomes clear as this complex and entertaining story of family dynamics or as daughter Paris calls it, "As the World F***ing Turns, again and again and again" gets fleshed out. McMillan is in her element, and readers Coleman and Willis do an excellent job of capturing the personalities of all the characters, be they surly, sassy, depressed or comic. Their talents guide the listener expertly through this captivating and ultimately optimistic tale of the ties that bind and the things that really matter. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 11, 2000).
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
As in most of her books McMillan struggles with characterisation. It is painfully evident in this book because even though each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character the reader cannot discern who is speaking until something character-specific is mentioned.
McMillan never fails to find interesting and relevant topics to write stories about. What she struggles with is writing these stories in a compelling manner and without letting her characters become stereotypes. In fact her portrayal of black people is insulting. In this book one of her characters - an adult male refers to a psychologist as a 'head doctor'. Another character visits a 'head doctor' and remarks that the office must belong to a white person because it's so 'nice and neat'. Finally her God fearing matriarch who loves church and logically must be acquainted with the commandments calls her husband an 'aldultururous'.
Black people know the word psychologist. Black people are not messy. Black people know how to pronounce and spell adulterer. It baffles and confounds me that an educated and successful black author would choose to create such terrible black characters.
The books that hold my attention focus on the meat of the storyline and mention the other stuff in passing. McMillian focuses on the other stuff and forgets the meat of her storyline.
The only storyline that really was developed was the one in which George molests Janelle's daughter. At least he gets punished for that, although I hate that we learned he molested his other daughters and McMillian didn't decide to use that tidbit to have a trial with all of them testifying about it.
The storyline with Lewis and his son was left hanging. Lewis' son is getting punched by his step father, Lewis gets put in jail and then miraculously the storyline end.
The rest of the book was just blah. It was read well and made driving a pleasure, but I would have been very frustrated if I was actually reading this in book form.
Sadly, Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillian (her next book) was just as bad. It was about a woman going through a change of life. This book is about a mother and her family. Terry is aging and I guess she wants her books to age with her, but to do that she has got to make them more interesting.