A Day Late and a Dollar Short

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9780141002750: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

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 a cast of characters so sassy, resilient and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page, Terry McMillan has written a novel that takes us into an American world we didn't know before - and gives us six fantastic characters whose stories we want to listen to forever.

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Review:

A wheezing matriarch is at the centre of A Day Late and a Dollar Short, yet her crisis is only one among many. Each chapter of Terry McMillan's novel reflects a different point of view, which means that the reader has heard from the entire family by the time the story concludes.

There's Viola Price lying in the hospital, felled by another asthma attack. She's weak but not at death's door. In fact, she's cranky and lonesome--her no-good husband has moved out to shack up with a young hussy, while her four grown children have scattered, struggled, married and divorced, succumbing mostly to their own worst selves. Viola's worried about them, but she can't worry forever. Then there's Paris, the "success" of the clan, who can't glean joy from her life because she's so worried about achieving perfection; Charlotte, who can't trust her husband because of a long-ago affair, and who grapples with stress by maxing out her credit cards; Janelle and Shanice, mother and daughter, who live with a terrible stepdad's sexual abuse; and Lewis, perhaps the most moving character, who's a magnet for cops, who always seem to pull him over when he's had one beer too many. His days are masterpieces of procrastination:

"I ain't doing nothing but laying here watching In The Heat of the Night, 'cause I spent my last seven dollars on a forty, a fish fillet, a quarter pounder with fries, a quick-pix lottery ticket, and a pack of Kools".
And his struggle with alcohol isn't exactly promising:
"I ain't been making much progress so, to stop all them red-hot wires from short-circuiting my whole mind, I shut it up with a drink".
Viola lives in Las Vegas, and much of the family drama unfolds in Sin City. While most stories taking place in Vegas concentrate on the city's surreal quality, McMillan is interested in the people who actually live there. In chatty, accessible prose and carefully choreographed scenes, the author fleshes out the lives of the Price clan. A Day Late and a Dollar Short is a story of real people in real struggles: addiction, scary IRS letters, late-night loneliness. Characters emerge from the page walking and talking and going through their dysfunctional paces. And while the Prices remain isolated from each other in many ways, they are nonetheless attached through kinship, memory and grudging love. -- Ellen Williams, Amazon.com

About the Author:

Terry McMillan is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Disappearing Acts, Mama and the international bestsellers Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got her Groove Back, both of which were made into highly successful films by 20th Century Fox. Terry McMillan lives in California with her family.

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