Who Asked You?

Our Little Free Library has had some good books coming through it lately. This Terry McMillan novel was one that I got out of there, and I’m glad someone decided to add it.

Betty Jean has her hands full. She’s pushing sixty, but still working her same hotel job; she takes care of her ailing husband; and all of her adult kids seem to need something from her. It’s almost more than she can take, and then it gets worse.

Betty Jean’s daughter, Trinetta, has struggled with substance abuse for years. She always seems to need money, or for Betty Jean to watch her kids. This time is the same: Trinetta drops off Luther and Ricky with their grandma, and then she disappears.

On top of her MIA daughter, Betty Jean now has two growing boys to care for. Her oldest son is in prison, and says he wants to live with her if he gets out on parole. Her other son is on wife number five, and she may or may not be the one. How much more can one lady take?

Keeping Betty Jean sane are her two sisters, Arlene and Venetia, and her best friend Tammy. The three sisters could not be more different, and it creates an entertaining dynamic. Tammy is my second favorite character (after BJ) because she’s hilarious and says what’s on her mind.

The chapters are narrated by a different character each time. While I like this for getting into everybody’s head, there are almost too many characters. A few times, I had to go back to double check who I was reading about. It didn’t make the story any less interesting, just a bit more confusing. The voices were distinct, but when everything is in first person, it sometimes requires rereading.

This is one seriously dysfunctional family, but they were likable and funny. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, but it has a lot of heart. And a pretty happy ending.

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