Courtesy of Goodreads: Much-heralded and long awaited, Terry McMillan's tour-de-force novel introduces the Price family-matriarch Viola, her sometimes-husband Cecil, and their four adult kids, each of whom sees life-and one another-through thick and thin, and entirely on their own terms. With her hallmark exuberance and cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page, the author of the phenomenal best-sellers Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back has given us a novel that takes us ever-further into the hearts, minds, and souls of America-and gives us six more friends we never want to leave.
First let me start off by saying that when I opened up this book to find an extended family tree on the first two pages, I immediately became a little nervous. No one wants to interrupt their reading experience by constantly referring to the legend at the front of the book.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to.
In A Day Late and A Dollar Short, Terry McMillan paints the picture of a dysfunctional family just trying to make it day by day. There’s Viola, the matriarch, who starts the book off by suffering a nearly fatal asthma attack. There’s Cecil, her (soon to be ex) husband, who has left Viola and is living with another (younger) woman across town. Then there are their children: Paris, Janelle, Lewis and Charlotte, each with their own set of problems.
This story is told from six perspectives, which initially makes it difficult to enjoy. The chapters are not labeled by name so it takes you a minute to realize who is speaking. Unfortunately, this is consistent throughout the entire book. While each character’s story is engaging, the fact that each one doesn’t have their own distinctive voice makes it a bit bothersome. Added to this is the fact that the chapters are long-winded, trying to cram every detail making certain parts of this story repetitive.
Even with those problems, I still really enjoyed this book. McMillan has created wonderfully complex characters that are constantly challenged, exploring exactly why they have become the way they are. Not only focusing on problems that affect the black community, the seemingly casual way with which she deals with different traumatic events, such as Lewis’s molestation by family members and Paris’s substance abuse, leaves one caught off guard. It’s not that she doesn’t delve into the matter…she does. However, she doesn’t allow the character to use it as an excuse. She hasn’t created a book of victims bemoaning and belaboring. She takes this family that has essentially fallen apart and shown how they each are trying to piece it back together again, gifting us with a group of sassy, strong people struggling to find solutions, which makes this an uplifting, positive story.
LitSnit Verdict: B