Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DIY MFA Review: Who Asked You

"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."

Congratulations to Terry McMillan for creating a deep and rich depiction of recent American history. Who Asked You is a complex exploration of racism both directed at and from the African American community.
Now that we've established what this book is and let's establish what it's not. It's not a pleasure read. The subject matter is deep and dark from a nurse who sexually abuses her disabled patients to drug addiction. The book is fiction but reads like non-fiction. (So if you like non-fiction it may be a pleasure read). And if you're looking for romance, you're in the wrong place. This book is not marketed as a romance, but since this is "romance world" I feel like I have to be clear.
This is not my usual read. I read it for my Romance & Women's Fiction Class. Still at about half way through I would have finished it anyway because of the characters. Each one was fully developed and somewhat unique. A LOT of characters had povs which made the narrative hard to follow--and made it read more like non-fiction--but to have that many pov characters and have them read authentic is an impressive feat for any writer.
The only thing I really didn't like about the book was Nurse Kim. In her first POV section she graphically describes a sexual encounter with a man who though doesn't seem to object couldn't legally consent. He's also married and the relationship is inappropriate since she's his nurse. I do not like graphic sex scenes. But I REALLY do not like graphic sex scenes involving non-consenting, disabled old men. #Gross. The bigger problem with this scene is that it serves no purpose. It never comes up again. When Mister gets eczma and has to see a doctor I thought for sure he had herpes and Nurse Kim was going to get caught. Nah. Just eczma. It really never comes up again, and Nurse Kim is otherwise a likable character. But I was never comfortable with her and dreaded her sections for the rest of the book, because of that one scene that didn't add anything.

1 comment:

  1. #Gross is right. Darn! That's just so wrong. Ew. Please tell me why Nurse Kim wasn't fired. The part of me that wants justice is screaming here. :/

    I get what you mean about a book being MARKED as a romance, but it not feeling like a romance at all. It reminds me about one book...Angie Daniels' 'Careful of the Company You Keep'. It's book 3 of a trilogy, but it's still readable on its own. I wasn't lost or confused, though sometimes I was curious about what the plot was for Book 2 and 1, only because this one is SO crazy. I honestly wanted none of these women to get some form of a happy ending. Then again, it was more Women Fiction than Romance. It definitely focused on their love lives, but it also touched on friendships, betrayal, parenthood, family, etc. By the end of it I wanted to wash myself, even if I would give a 4 out of 5 stars. I had to just push the urge to throw the book to the back seat while I was reading.

    Plus side, I read that book and felt SO good about my own life. Seriously crazy stuff in that book. Hahahahaha! :D