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Who Asked You?

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Kaleidoscopic, fast-paced, and filled with McMillan’s inimitable humor, Who Asked You? opens as Trinetta leaves her two young sons with her mother, Betty Jean, and promptly disappears. BJ, a trademark McMillan heroine, already has her hands full dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams—all while holding down a job delivering room service at a hotel. Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can’t be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs. The drama unfolds through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters, pitch-perfect, each playing a part, and full of surprises.

Who Asked You? casts an intimate look at the burdens and blessings of family and speaks to trusting your own judgment even when others don’t agree. McMillan’s signature voice and unforgettable characters bring universal issues to brilliant, vivid life

383 pages, Hardcover

First published September 17, 2013

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About the author

Terry McMillan

31 books2,962 followers
Terry McMillan is an African-American author. Her interest in books comes from working at a library when she was fourteen. She received her BA in journalism in 1986 from the University of California at Berkeley and the MFA Film Program at Columbia University. Her work is characterized by strong female protagonists.

Her first book, Mama, was self-promoted. She achieved national attention in 1992 with her third novel, Waiting to Exhale, which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for many months. Forest Whitaker turned it into a film in 1995. In 1998, another of McMillan's novels, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was made into a movie. McMillan's novel Disappearing Acts was subsequently produced as a direct-to-cable feature.

Her last novel, Who Asked You?, casts an intimate look at the burdens and blessings of family and speaks to trusting your own judgment even when others don’t agree.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 956 reviews
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,300 reviews4,830 followers
November 23, 2021

Betty Jean (BJ), an African American hotel employee, lives in a middle-class, mixed-race neighborhood in Los Angeles with her husband Lee David, who has Alzheimer's disease.

As the book opens BJ's drug-addict daughter Trinetta drops off her two school-aged sons, Luther and Ricky, 'for a few days' while she 'applies for a job'.


Trinetta then takes off for Atlanta with her new guy, leaving the kids behind.

BJ also has other things on her mind. Her oldest son Quentin, a wealthy chiropractor who's distanced himself from the family, has just married his fifth blonde Caucasian wife.

BJ's middle son Dexter is in prison and constantly sends letters complaining about his wrongful conviction for carjacking (he did it), talking about his big plans for the future (delusional), and asking for money (which BJ doesn't have).

BJ has Dexter's number though, and she lets him know it.

BJ is also concerned about her two sisters: Arlene - proud of her psychology degree - is a single mother who dotes on her obese 29-year old son Omar (Arlene overfeeds him)...but she won't let him grow up;

And Venetia - a religious Bible thumper - has a lovely house, a cheating husband who 'travels' constantly, and two children bound for college.

To top it off, BJ's worried she might have to put Lee David - a good man and loyal spouse - into 'one of those places'. Lee David has become a shadow of his former self, largely unaware of his surroundings, who lies in bed watching "Dora the Explorer" (a children's show).

Two other major characters in the book are Tammy and Nurse Kim. Tammy is BJ's neighbor and best friend, a caring helpful woman who BJ can confide in.

Tammy, a white woman married to a black man, is funny when she talks about the attitude she gets from black women.

And Nurse Kim is David Lee's skilled caregiver, a sexy lady whose 'caregiving' is all-inclusive (and maybe a little over-the top).

SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this review might contain (what you consider) spoilers. So read at your own risk.

The story, told in rotating voices by all the main characters, follows the lives of these people for more than a decade. Luther and Ricky move from grade school through college, with some ups and downs along the way. Luther, a good student and caring brother, loves Grandma's cooking, reading, and football. I was glad when he gave his Uncle Quentin a richly deserved 'what for'.

Ricky - affected by drugs in the womb - struggles with school, joins the swim team, and falls off the rails a bit (selling drugs). But BJ knows how to set him straight.

Through it all BJ struggles to feed, clothe, and support these beloved grandsons with limited financial resources. Unfortunately, BJ has to give up the hard won 'zero balance' on her Sears credit card.

As for the other characters: Quentin and his wife have a baby, but he remains aloof from the family until things go downhill and he has an epiphany.

Dexter gets out on parole, forgets his 'big plans', sponges off his mom, and gets into trouble (again).

Arlene is more than dismayed when Omar moves out to lead his own life and come to terms with his sexuality.

Venetia can't admit her marriage is over, even when her husband leaves her for another woman - until she finally 'grows up'.

Nurse Kim eventually leaves to become a traveling nurse - which makes young Luther (who has a crush) a bit sad. And more.


All the characters are believable, well-rounded, and stir our emotions....whether we like them or have disdain for them.

This is a well-written engaging book that provides an authentic picture of one family's dynamics. Highly recommended.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Yasmin.
272 reviews5 followers
September 20, 2013
Who Asked You? By Terry McMillan is a quick, easy, engaging and entertaining read. While true to McMillain’s style, giving us storylines with colorful, quirky characters, set against dysfunctional family lives, I felt like I had read this book before and knew how these characters would fare well before the book ended. It seemed as though everything and I do mean EVERYTHING, was thrown into this book. And, at times there was a little too much drama going on for me to appreciate the antics. It’s a good read but not a wow read and hence the three star rating. Hardcore fans of McMillan will enjoy her latest read. Those who enjoyed her in the past, but have ventured outside of the contemporary fiction genre for more diverse reads/genres, and have grown weary of McMillan’s books but are still trying to hold on and give her a second chance, well, because she’s Terri, will probably find Who Asked You? entertaining, but might hesitate before purchasing her next book. McMillan’s storylines or style hasn’t changed much, she’s stayed true to her signature style, but many of our reading taste have. We need more than drama for drama sake and a storyline that includes all the ills and stereotypes of living while black in America. On the positive, the kids (Luther and Ricky) really captured my heart and held my interest. I cheered for them and their poor grandmother, Betty Jean, as she did her best to raise them. It’s almost like she’s given a second chance to right the wrongs made with her kids by raising her grandkids. Unfortunately, a story that’s too true in black communities today…grandmothers raising grandbabies left behind by irresponsible children. However, when a storyline has to rely on kids to carry it, red flags go up. But, maybe it was McMillan’s intent to use the kids to carry this family into a better future. In closing, don’t take my words or rating serious for this book. It’s Terry so you have to read her for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

PS I listened to the audiobook and while I loved, loved Phylicia Rashad as one of the voiceovers/narrators, I was annoyed that she was the voice for more than one character. Wish that Betty Jean was the only voice that Rashad read as the switching back and forth between other characters was confusing and cumbersome. Actually, if they couldn’t hire actors to read for each character, I would have been better served having Rashad read all the parts.
Profile Image for Nakia.
371 reviews225 followers
September 20, 2013
Pains me to say that I wasn't feeling this. I expected so much more. Maybe I'm judging too harshly, but had this not been written by one of my favorite writers ever, I would have stopped and put it away around the second chapter. I kept going, hoping it would get better but... *sigh* Not as bad as "Getting to Happy" though, but definitely not as good as her first four novels.
Profile Image for Jessica Goodman.
76 reviews7 followers
September 25, 2013
The book was a decent read. The book was funny. The characters were real and easy to connect to. There were a couple LOL and are you kidding me moments.

But there were a lot of things I did not like about "Who Asked You", which is odd for me when it comes to McMillan. The book was extremely predictable. I knew what was going to happen and how it was going to end before I got to the second part of the novel. The story was told from the perspective of at least ten characters and the only thing they had in common was the books matriarch and archetype McMillan character Betty Jean. The book weaves in and out of time from the late nineties til right after President Obama's inauguration. The election of our 44th President, surprisingly, was the moral compass that brought this dysfunctional family from the brink of disaster. I did not care for that at all. Not because I am not a President Obama supporter, but in my opinion that was reaching and lazy on the authors part.

As an avid reader and fan, I was disappointed because I expected more from Ms. McMillan. Not a MUST read but definitely worth reading.

2.8/5 Stars
Profile Image for Erin .
1,205 reviews1,109 followers
March 24, 2019
Buzzword-A-Thon: Who

I haven't read a Terry McMillan novel in YEARS and to tell you the truth I probably wouldn't have read this one of it wasn't for the Buzzword-A-Thon. I needed books with the words Who- What-When-Where-How in the title. I never realized how few books I own have those words in their titles. Interestingly enough I had 2 Terry McMillan novels that I could've read for this How Stella Got Her Groove Back and the one I chose to read Who Asked You?

I chose Who Asked You? because I hadn't read it and I liked the cover. I'm glad I read this because it made me want to get back into reading her works. Terry McMillan novels are harsh and I had forgotten just how harsh they can be. Terry McMillan characters are not very likeable but they are very realistic. Terry doesn't pull any punches with her characters she writes novels that expose what happens in real African American families worts and all.

In Who Asked You? Terry McMillan introduces us to Betty Jean and her crazy family. Her 3 kids are a mess one is criminal, another is a drug addict and the 3rd one is ashamed of being Black. Betty Jean hates her job and is resentful of her sick husband. Her already unsettled life gets even more chaotic when she is forced to raise her two grandsons. Betty Jean is tough and despite not liking her family she loves them and would do anything for them. Betty Jean is dealing with stuff that a lot of women of all races have to deal with.

I really enjoyed this book but I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't of had 12 different POV's(I think it was more but I lost count). It was just too much and I had trouble keeping all the characters & povs straight. Other than that I found Terry McMillan's writing to be witty and exceptional. I wouldn't recommend this novel to readers who haven't read Terry McMillan before but if you've read and enjoyed her other works than I'm sure you'll enjoy this one too.
Profile Image for Patrice Hoffman.
552 reviews254 followers
September 12, 2013
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. The two grandsons Luther and Ricky are by far the most adorable voices in the novel as well as the source of my laughter and tears.

Who Asked You? is an exploration of family and the issues that bind them together. There are actually a lot of themes that are relatable in this novel to any family regardless of their background. The idea of having second chances, marital strifes, loss, feelings of guilt, social issues, and ultimately redemption. The ending is so inspiring and makes the journey with these characters worth every minute. And what well developed characters they are.

It's often difficult reading a novel with many characters and connecting with them all. Even the ones who leave an initial bad taste in your mouth somehow find a way to break through. There is flaw after flaw in each person introduced but the chapters in they narrate add as a justification for their actions. One chapter will leave a character seeing a situation a diffrent way than the other. This transition is awesome and adds something fresh to this authors' creativity. McMillan allows her characters room for growth and we readers get to see that. I love that.

Terry McMillan manages to pack emotion after emotion into a novel that is hard to put down. I was on an emotional rollercoaster with this novel. There are also moments of classic witt that will have readers chuckling to themselves. Sayings such as what color does stupid come in. And nuggets of inspiration such as regret being a wasted emotion. I wish I could quote from this but since it is an ARC, I'll keep my highlighted passages to myself.

Who Asked You? is worth a read. I've given it 5-stars because I couldn't put it down. There's feellings of happiness, sadness, anger, and eventually calm to experience with this title. I recommend this title to anyone who's looking for a diffrent sort of novel about family that is well-written and relevant on so many topics. McMillan's fans will love this latest addition to her list of works.
Profile Image for LiteraryMarie.
562 reviews52 followers
August 10, 2013
Terry McMillan had me at the opening line: "It's my day off and I'm in the kitchen getting ready to fry some chicken." I immediately liked main character Betty Jean (BJ). She is the rock of a family with the world on her shoulders. Her youngest child, Trinetta's life is a continuous emergency. Trinetta disappears with boothang Dante leaving her two sons in BJ's care. Never mind that BJ is already taking care of her ill husband, working room service at a hotel, preparing for her son Dexter's parole, being ignored by her oldest child Quentin, plus dealing with two sisters and a best friend. Whew! I'm just tired typing about BJ's life, let alone living it.

Terry McMillan's signature writing and unforgettable characters are evident in her eighth novel, Who Asked You? The story is told from the perspectives of all characters. Usually I am not in favor of rotating point of views but there is no other way this story could have been told. Each character played a part and it was necessary to read it from their individual perspective. Well done, Terry.

Who Asked You? is dedicated to mothers, who do the best they can. Any mother will appreciate this book and understand Betty Jean's story. Although I am childless, the book made me appreciate mothers even more. You put up with so much, expecting nothing in return. You give your all so effortlessly without complaint. Mothers break their back for family and give their very last. I thank you. And I thank Terry McMillan for penning an excellent story that told the burdens and blessings of a family.

Who Asked You? is expected to publish on September 17. Pre-order your copy now. It is guaranteed to take you away from everyday troubles and get lost in the world of fiction.

Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Profile Image for DeeTimes' Nook.
2,227 reviews
September 29, 2013
McMillan's "Who Asked You" was well worth the wait. The characters were so real and relatable. I laughed, cried and cursed at BJ's dysfunctional clan of misfits because well, hell's bell they all were so like most families-- indescribable but selfish most of the time too.

So if you ask me, I strongly recommend this read because it reads like her first four classics that have all outlasted the test of time.

Thanks Terry McMillan for sharing your vibrant way of writing which continues to exude strong humor and pathos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 hands applauding = 5 stars of course!
Profile Image for Natalie TBGWP.
400 reviews23 followers
April 15, 2016
A fiction book that reads as a true life book to me is a book that has pushed boundaries in writing. Who asked you? Does not in any way have you thinking it's fiction, it is as honest and as real as I am human. By god it's long, but it is not boring. Crammed to bursting capacity with every situation possible you may as well be watching a series drama on the TV.

We're following one family through their life and through life's troubles. We read passages from the main giver, Betty Jean Butler and her sons, Dexter and Quentin. Her sisters, Arlene and her son, Omar and Venetia. Her daughter, Trinetta and her sons, Luther and Ricky. Her husband, Mister as she calls him or to us, Lee David. His home nurse, nurse Kim. Her best friend and neighbour, Tammy. The lady from Social Services and lastly, Warren Daniels, the principal at the local school.

As you can tell by just that list of characters, this obviously has some serious depth as a book covering a home domesticity being told by that many people sure as hell can't be anything other than deep.

You will also understand that I cannot go into the slightest bit of detail about the book without giving out some sort of spoiler. And I just won't do that.
What I can say though is this is without a doubt a book that has you deeply connected with its characters, a book that will shock you, and a book that will have you understanding somethings in some peoples lives that maybe you wouldn't have even ever thought about. And that none of us know what happens behind closed doors.

This is a fabulous book. Humorous, deep, friendly and happy are words that can describe it.
I recommend this to anyone who will take on the challenge of a lengthily read and a book that maybe doesn't have a plot that they may be used to.


Profile Image for Kristen Beverly.
1,125 reviews41 followers
September 20, 2013
This novel starts out full of character, spunk and humor. Even though this novel is told from the point of view of many, Betty Jean is definitely the focal point. And she deserves it. Betty Jean (aka BJ) is mother to three grown children and a wife to a man, Lee David, with Alzheimer’s. She has two sisters who won’t mind their own business. She goes to work as a hotel maid during the day, while another woman, Nurse Kim, watches her husband at home. Her only daughter drops off her two children one day and disappears. One of her sons is in prison and the other is successful, but can’t be bothered with the family drama.

BJ is a strong, black woman who has been giving of herself to her family and friends for many years, even when it’s a detriment to herself. But, Betty Jean is tired. Tired of everything, and she can’t show it. She’s taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter won’t. She’s trying to do right by Lee David, because he is her husband and she won’t give up on him. What ensures is both heartbreaking and heartwarming chaos.

Sometimes I like to just pick up a book and read the first two pages to get a feel for the book. I was in the middle of reading two other books when I did that – but I was hooked! I promptly put the other two books aside and tore through Who Asked You?.

McMillan is a genius at writing real characters. I think The Washington Post put it perfectly when they said, “McMillan has a cutting wit, a knack for capturing the way real people think and speak.” It is definitely true of this book.

I did feel like the ending was wrapped up with too neat a bow, which is why I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5. But it is a great book.
Profile Image for Prettywitty77.
96 reviews41 followers
February 15, 2020
This was a very engaging book. Black family drama. VERY familiar & relatable family drama. I liked that this book was narrated by multiple characters. It’s easy to paint a picture of someone from one point of view but actually hearing the other person’s train of thought made me love this book. However, this book had so many narrators that it took away from the depth of the characters. It leaves you in a position to judge EVERYBODY and that’s exactly what I did! LOL The least likable person in this book was Quentin. I was so annoyed for obvious reasons.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Sweep your own porch before you try to tell me about mine. And that’s that on that.
Profile Image for Coffee&Books.
959 reviews84 followers
August 2, 2013
I was looking forward to reading this book but didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't unforgettable.

I've not read a lot of Terry McMillan so perhaps I wasn't up on what to expect. I do remember that Getting to Happy (the last McMillan book I read) had multiple view points. Who Asked You had MANY POV's and to me, was overkill. It muddled the story to me and made it much less enjoyable to read.

Aside from that, Who Asked You reads like a real slice of American life in a family in an urban city. From drug and alcohol abuse to stints in jail to dealing with Alzheimer's and instability, McMillan lays her characters bare on the page. We see all, good and bad. The writing is not stilted and introspective-- it is conversational and on the level of Any Reader. She tells a story, over time, and allows us to watch how life plays out for this family.

Profile Image for Sabrina.
160 reviews25 followers
August 26, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Tia.
764 reviews252 followers
March 19, 2018
A fun and engaging read that deals with realistic issues. The inner dialogue of the characters and the dialogue of Luther I found to be very funny at times. More than once when Luther was talking I laughed out loud. Who Asked you? is a fast paced read that will have you turning the pages and relating many of the characters to members of your family or inner circle of friends.
Profile Image for Tracy Darity.
Author 4 books79 followers
September 14, 2013
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan, like all of her previous works, gives an accurate portrayal of issues that everyday people are experiencing EVERY DAY. The characters in this novel could be anyone that we know, heck, they could be us. The aging spouse with Alzheimer’s (it may have been Dementia, it seemed to have changed towards the end), the grandmother stuck raising her grand-kids, the child on drugs, the child in and out of jail, and much more. While facing all these unexpected problems there is never a missed opportunity for someone to share how they could have done it better, or avoided the situation altogether.

The main character is Betty Jean; like so many people, life has seemingly passed her by. At the moment she decides she wants more, better, different, that’s when life happens. She is in her fifties caring for her ailing husband who she is not sure she ever loved. As the story opens her biggest decision is whether to stand strong and care for him until the end; or follow the advice of others who think it’s best to place him in a home. The story progresses just as life does and before she knows it her house is overrun with two abandoned grandsons and a son fresh out of prison…again.

McMillan is one of the best when it comes to writing true-to-life fiction. However, I found myself wanting to hate this book. It spoke to so many emotions. My father was diagnosed with Dementia and eventually passed, so it bothered me that Lee David rarely if ever left his darkened bedroom. At times he seemed an afterthought. Trinetta, Betty Jean’s daughter whose love for drugs far outweighed her love for her children had me so angry. But Betty Jean’s reaction to her daughter I felt is systematic to why the number of grandparents raising grandchildren is increasing by record numbers. Tammy, the best friend, is just what we all need…a co-conspirator to our questionable decisions. That person who never challenges our decisions because their own are just as bad. But this is what I love most about McMillan’s writing, it forces us to think about real stuff.

Who Asked You? is one of those novels that will have the reader exploring their true feelings about social issues. It will have you asking yourself, “What would I do if this happened to me?” Most of the scenarios presented would require going through it to honestly know the answer.

There were fifteen central characters in the book, which can be a lot if not handled correctly. Although each tied neatly into the story, a few I could have done without because the main point of the story would have been accomplished with or without them.

Overall, Who Asked You? is an endearing read that exposes the harsh realities of life for many people. I received it as a review copy from the publisher, but would have purchased it the moment it hit the shelf. For those who are true die-hard Terry McMillan fans, you will enjoy her rawness and the fact that she stays true to her writing style. I would recommend Who Asked You? to anyone who enjoys good contemporary fiction.

My final rating is 3.75 stars out of 5.

Peace & Blessings,

Tracy L. Darity

Book received by Viking/Penguin
Profile Image for Peekaboo.
9 reviews2 followers
August 11, 2016
Terry McMillan is back! I'm so glad since I'm a huge fan and thought "Getting to Happy" missed her mark a bit, though I still enjoyed it (Ms. McMillan read from it at the Free Library of Philadelphia shortly after its release and even wrote a personal "Happy Birthday" wish when she autographed my copy, even though she was only supposed to be doing the standard signing of her name, the line was crazy long on a week/work night, and it was getting late. She was really down to earth, showed nothing put poise, patience, and appreciation of her fans, and was open and honest when some patrons asked questions about her personal life and former husband...I'm not even gonna lie, I was just as interested in her answers to those questions as a lot, if not most, of the audience was...I was just to scared to ask!). "Who Asked You" captivated me from page 1 and I experienced the entire range of emotions while reading it in 2 days. The book was so riveting that I literally had to force myself to put it down to do chores and sleep (I learned that its a bad idea to try to cook or wash dishes while reading. LOL). Lee David's chapter made me laugh until my sides hurt. I read it about 5 times, then I cried about the very same chapter. The story line for Luther and Ricky also had me laughing and crying, and feeling worried, afraid, excited, and ultimately proud and relieved. My heart bled for Betty Jean for so many reasons, I felt sorry for Venetia, and most times, I just wanted to punch Arlene in the eye, although I did feel a little sorry for her at the end. The characters and their struggles were written in a way that made them seem real and familiar. It was like reading about and talking with friends and family. This book is definitely a "must buy" for me instead of just a library loan and while I rarely re-read books, I can't wait to read this one again next month and again sometime next year. Until then, I think this is the perfect time for me to read "Mama" again. My only issue with "Who Asked You" is that I don't know whether or not to be upset that it was written so comprehensively that it seems to nix the possibility of a sequel. I love audio books and am really hoping she'll release this book in audio format...soon. This just might be my favorite book of the year and I highly recommend it. Happy reading! :-)
Profile Image for Wendy.
343 reviews6 followers
August 26, 2013
This was an ARC from BEA. McMillan's dialogue and characterizations sparkle as always, but I didn't think the rotating points of view added much to the telling. I would have preferred the whole thing from one POV.
Profile Image for Gayle.
503 reviews29 followers
November 19, 2013
Who Asked You? follows a number of members of the family of Betty Jean Butler, an African-American woman in her late 50s living in a not-s0-great (but racially diverse) neighborhood in LA. When the book opens, Betty Jean’s life is very stressful. Her husband is deteriorating with Alzheimer’s Disease, living at home with her and being cared for during the day by a nurse. Betty Jean works for a hotel, delivering room service. Her daughter is a drug addict who has just dropped off her two elementary-aged sons, Luther and Ricky, at Betty Jean’s house for an undetermined period of time, and her youngest son, Dexter, is serving time for carjacking. Her oldest son, Quentin, lives in Oregon but has disavowed his roots and avoids his family. The other characters that round out the cast are Nurse Kim, who takes care of Mr. Butler; Betty Jean’s neighbor (and best friend) Tammy, who has problems of her own, like a pregnant, unmarried daughter and a gambling ex-husband; and Betty Jean’s two sisters, judgmental Arlene and religious, wealthy Venetia.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character. This is McMillan territory, so it’s an easy, fluid read. The characters here go through their ups and downs – none of them is perfect. Quentin gets out of jail, but ends up back in. Arlene refuses to accept her son for who he is, only realizing years later that she was wrong. Ricky takes a wrong turn, despite his grandmother’s warnings to stay clean. But by the end, the characters all find some sort of redemption. So while there is a lot of hardship here, it’s ultimately an uplifting book. Obama’s inauguration provides a convenient (too convenient?) milestone for the Butler family to measure their own success and pride by.

My main complaints about Who Asked You? are that it was pretty superficial at times – characters died, for example, and the grieving seemed to be pretty short and rather trite – and McMillan’s delving into the petty bickering among the three sisters got very tiresome. Dialogue for the sake of dialogue (“How did you find out that I told her that?” “She called me.” “I can’t believe she would tell you that I said that!” – type of dialogue) can be pretty annoying after a short while.

If you’re looking for a relatively light bestseller-y read that covers some surprisingly weighty topics, then you might enjoy Who Asked You?. McMillan fans seem mostly positive on this book, based on the reviews I’ve read.
Profile Image for Mrs Tupac .
675 reviews48 followers
January 28, 2018
Loved this book I re-read it today because the last time I read it I was still nursing my son and trying to finish it up . . . this book was really good not going to lie . . . I really don't have a favorite character this book was like reading Mama all over again . . . This book was real and had real characters I hated Quentin's self hating ass each chapter he had made me want to throw up in my damn mouth. Terry Mcmillan did not hold anything back when writing this one.... Bj was a strong woman who had a lot of potential but put it on hold to become a better mother. . . . Sometimes I wish she would have not gotten married instead decided to follow her dreams and become all that she could be....I feel a lot of women in this book settled too fast & did not bother to better their situation only to wait it out :-( I never want to be that type of woman. I liked how all the characters were weaved together like real people you swore you knew . . . I actually felt like a fly on the wall in every chapter . . . Great book this book really makes up for that poor excuse to the waiting to exhale sequel . . . And the audio book is great too because it was narrated by Phylicia Rashad her voice is just lovely <333 I own this book and go back to read it from time to time . . . : - )
Profile Image for BookNerd4Life.
41 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2017
OMG!!!! This book!!!!! Had me screaming and talking to out loud to the characters from the beginning through the end. Betty Jean is a mess (in a good way). The only reason she talks to her daughter is because she loves and is worried about her grandkids.

Terry McMillan draws you into the story. You walk with the characters. You understand and can relate to BJ owning her own mess and faults. You feel what BJ feels when she gets the news about her daughter. You can relate when people talk about Quentin's warped way of thinking. You understand how people fail to take responsibility for their actions FOR YEARS!!!! And you become just as happy as BJ when the children come into their own and do what makes a mother proud. Terry has a way of making you give the characters REAL names of your personal relatives!!!! Because believe me, EVERYONE knows someone like these people (IF it isn't your immediate family). And the SHADE IS REAL!!! BJ keeps it 100! If you are looking for a book to take you away from your own reality; yet, keep you there and remind you that everything is gonna be alright, Who asked you? will not disappoint. Ohhhh myyyy.
Profile Image for Denise Billings.
196 reviews10 followers
November 14, 2014
A quick and delightful read. A coming of age story of Betty Jean, a woman of a certain age. Engrossing. I was pulled right into the drama of this family. McMillan can write convincingly from every point of view. We get to live in the heads of people from all backgrounds and economic strata. From crack heads to college grads. Even someone swirling the drain of Alzheimer's Disease. We see the effects of changes in an old neighborhood on the people determined to stay and those who left, never to return. We watched as Betty Jean's grandsons, Luther and Ricky, grow and develop. They had two of the most moving chapters in the book for me. I won't spoil it for you but, Ricky's chapter seized my heart with the certainty that he has learned a lesson well and Luther's chapter was a tear jerking love letter. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Natasha.
407 reviews
December 23, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. I like how I felt like I was growing up with the characters especially the kids. There were some sad events, funny times and warm your heart moments with some family drama mixed throughout. Overall it was a feel good story and very relatable. Every family has their drama and issues but loving one another despite of is what counts. It was nice to hear about not only Betty Jean's family but her best friend Tammy's as well. And Tammy had her own messiness to deal with. That nurse Kim was a trip, I couldn't believe her fast tail! Even she had her good traits along with trifling ways. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone, it was a genuine account of family - the ups and the downs.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,834 reviews2 followers
March 7, 2019
On the way to work, I was just thinking how hard life was because so many people seemed to need a piece of me....work, husband, children, church people, friends, in-laws, etc. So when I started this book at work, I had to laugh because that is exactly how this one started....B.J. said she felt like a pie with everyone taking a piece, leaving her only a little piece crust. I thought, "YES!!!"

I really like this one. I thought the author did a great and detailed job with the characterizations. Even with all the different POVs, they were all believable. At times, it felt like listening to friend over a burger and fries. I will have to read more by this author. I really enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Mike.
339 reviews26 followers
November 14, 2015
I was prepared to chop this up as another Reality Show writing effort by McMillan. These are generally a bunch of slightly related characters chunked at the reader with little connection or central plot between them.

While this is 60% the case, McMillan does interweave the many storylines in a nice but loose braid.

The characters were very realistic. McMillan tends to intentionally date her books by major events and technology. This novel, spanning over about 10 years, uses these notches in recent history as timeline markers.

I enjoyed the scattered stories and drama each character shared. Seriously about 15 different people take the drivers seat. This is a "cheater" route McMillan takes--attempting to create instant character development. This is mostly by switching POVs very frequently and often abruptly.

3 stars for the writing but 2 bonus stars for the narration.

Phylicia Rashad I thought did an amazing job. She voiced the 3 sisters and a social worker. While the voices were not very different they're tones, pronunciations and inflictions were. Three other Narrators were fine with the exception of Terry McMillan herself.

I don't know why authors choose to narrate their own works. Leave it to the professionals please. Terry's voice was awful. Unclear, breathy and aged. Woman, have a seat and write your readers an apology for Getting to Happy.
Profile Image for Toni.
246 reviews40 followers
October 21, 2013
For me, a huge part of Terry McMillan's appeal as an author is that she is relatable. You can find a part of yourself or someone you know speaking through the voices of her characters. Who Asked You? is McMillan's most timely novel to date, covering a lot of issues that are in the news every evening.

During a time when she should be thinking about retirement and enjoying her life, Betty Jean doesn't see that happening any time soon. Caring for a terminally ill husband, her two grandsons after her daughter disappears, a son in prison, and another son who has distanced himself from the whole family, has left BJ tired and on autopilot. Add in her judgmental sisters and an equally overwrought neighbor and it seems that there is a drama overload, but it never felt like too much for me. There are times when life's trials come at you all at once and this is what is happening to BJ, but like a lot of people in real life, she can't escape it. She digs in her heels and keeps on moving.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,246 reviews9 followers
September 4, 2013
Very interesting read to say the least. I received this book as a complimentary copy from the publishing company prior to its release date and am sorry to say it has taken me a minute to complete reading it, but I must say I really enjoyed the story line. To me, it started off a little slow in the beginning but as I kept reading I discovered there is nothing like a grandma's love. Betty Jean stepped in and did a grand job and was always there for everybody. Truths, secrets, hurts, past pains all of these emotions sprang forth in this novel and I must say outside of some grammatical errors and punctuation issues it had a lot of interesting topics and I enjoyed how each character developed throughout the novel. Kudos to Terry McMillan, I think anyone reading this novel will enjoy. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MS. MCMILLAN and thanks to NetGalley.com and your publisher for allowing me to receive this novel prior to its publication date.
Profile Image for Ebony Evans.
Author 4 books12 followers
October 5, 2013
This was my VERY 1st Terry McMillan read and WHAT AN ENTERTAINING READ it was!

Following each character's point of view, life's journey and reflections... I immediately fell in love with her style of writing. I laughed, cried and cursed but in the end I found there was an insightful and satisfying lesson to be learned from each. With dysfunctional family trials, tribulations, drama, drugs, gossip, disappointment, racism and triumph ..... "Who Asked You" delivered a relatable storyline that "left no stone unturned"!

Now that Ms. McMillan has gained another fan, I'm thinking I need to make a U-Turn and read everything she's written!

EyeCU Super Approved!
Profile Image for Jamise.
Author 2 books146 followers
January 6, 2016
Who Asked You was definitely not one of my favorite Terry McMillian books. Terry is a master storyteller. She engages the reader and her characters are believable. However, this book lacked plot. It was your stereotypical (sometimes factual) day to day story of an African American family's struggle and life in the "ghetto". I was expecting a little more but it really wasn't anything stellar. I wavered between 3 to 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Janeen.
79 reviews17 followers
June 26, 2016
When I started this book, I had a few ??? moments while reading it. Some of the character's plot lines & brutal honesty totally threw me off. BUT! McMillan's book gets narrated by different characters. By page 100, you're invested in everybody. You become a champion, friend and enemy of the characters. It's a good book. The book is about family, the good and the bad, and it's wonderfully done.
Profile Image for Marva.
136 reviews
December 27, 2013
I love Terry McMillan, Lord knows I do. But I couldn't finish this book. It held absolutely nothing for me. I think the story is interesting, a grandmother raising her grandchildren, but it didn't invite me in. I am disappointed. I rarely choose to give up on a book, but I gave up on this one.
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