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A look at the dynamics of family relationships.

  • Mar 5, 2001
  • by
Terry McMillan's long awaited novel is a page-turner indicative of her style of writing. Her fans will not be disappointed.

Viola Price is the matriarch of the Price family. She finds her self on the verge of her fiffy-fifth birthday separated from Cecil, her husband of thirty-eight years who is courting a woman young enough to be his daughter, and worrying about her four grown children.

Paris, the overachieving, wealthy oldest child, can't find a man and won't admit she is lonely and a fat bank account just won't fix things. Charlotte has issues that go beyond middle-child syndrome and is forever trying to compete with and live up to Paris' standards. Lewis, the only male child, can't keep a job, is in and out of jail, and spends his days drinking and dreaming about patenting his many inventions. And Janelle, the baby of the family is a career student and a home wrecker who cannot see what his happening to her daughter before her very eyes. And Viola wonders what they will do without her guiding them.

All in all, this book makes you sit back and think? Are these traits in my family? Where do I fit in the dynamics of the relationships of siblings? How strongly do circumstances as a child effect your family and marital relationships later on in life?

I felt the "We are family, got all my sisters with me" ending was a little too pat, but Terry has characterizations down like no other. She's still the queen of pop fizz.

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review by . March 27, 2001
I hate to put a "me too" review here but that's what this amounts too. I too think McMillan's latest novel is quite good and one of her best. A Day Late and Dollar Short takes us through the travails of the Price family and they all, including the matriarch of the family, Viola, have flaws. What's endearing about this book is that Viola knows each of her children, her husband, and herself, so well and McMillan does a fine job at building the characters of each member of the family that by the end …
About the reviewer
Dera R Jones Williams ()
Ranked #1055
Dera is a writer, editor, genealogist, writing mentor, researcher, and family historian, and she is active in local literary and national literary circles. She is the keeper of family stories, archivist … more
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About this book


Terry McMillan's novels feature chatty, catty narrators who have a story they're just busting to tell you. The dominant voice inA Day Late and a Dollar Shortis 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...

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ISBN-10: 0670896764
ISBN-13: 978-0670896769
Author: Terry McMillan
Publisher: Viking

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