A Day Late and a Dollar Short

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

4.5 217
by Terry McMillan
     
 

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Much-heralded and long awaited, 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 her hallmark exuberance and cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they

Overview

Much-heralded and long awaited, 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 her hallmark exuberance and cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A glorious novel...without question, this is McMillan's best." —The Washington Post

"McMillan has the uncanny ability to render family conflict with both humor and compassion...a life-affirming read...a triumph." —The Los Angeles Times

"Touching and funny." —People

"[McMillan] in top form." —The New York Times Book Review

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
Equal parts cultural phenom, literary trailblazer, and all-around righteous sister, Terry McMillan inspires hope and devotion, her novels -- including Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and Disappearing Acts -- celebrated for their affirming vision of empowered women. A Day Late and a Dollar Short delivers this and more, exploring the Price family: matriarch Viola; daughters Paris, Janelle, and Charlotte; husband Cecil; and son Lewis. And as never before, McMillan's men give as good as they take, equal to their feisty, fast-talking feminine relations. The layered characterizations -- revealed through first-person chapters told individually by each family member -- imbue the novel with a rare dimensionality, as the same people and events are viewed from multiple perspectives. And more than the title allows, the Price family in McMillan's A Day Late and a Dollar Short discovers that forgiveness can offer powerful healing, even from beyond the grave.

Any man with a whiff of sense knows better than to express a critical opinion about the work of Terry McMillan in gender-mixed company. McMillan's legion of female readers fiercely protect her, unafraid to speak at length and at the drop of a hat about her gifts and her relevance. Male validation is unnecessary.

Sometimes that level of loyalty gets delightfully loud. Attending an Atlanta screening of the film version of Waiting to Exhale several years ago, I witnessed the largely female audience actively participating, peppering the on-screen dialogue with "Tell the truth!" and "Amen, sister!" Sunday morning church services blended with Friday night cineplex previews. At McMillan's bookstore appearances, too, women have been known to testify during the question-and-answer periods, joyously, tearfully remembering the discovery in McMillan's novels of women like themselves: strong and vulnerable, delicate and determined, flawed and fabulous.

In A Day Late and a Dollar Short, the four Price women are complicated and conflicted, seemingly unable to figure out ways to express their love for one another or the men in their lives without bumping up against family ghosts and assorted personal baggage. Intimacy remains illusory. Echoing the four female voices of Waiting to Exhale, the Price women face some familiar challenges, including health, finances, children, spouses, infidelity, and career options. But a departure awaits, as McMillan flexes her fictional muscles, including several strong male characters who boldly claim equal time.

Although McMillan has employed a male voice before in Disappearing Acts, where Franklin alternated with Zora to tell the tale, it always felt more like a woman's story. In A Day Late and a Dollar Short, family patriarch Cecil Price and his only son, Lewis, are equal to the task of getting a word in edgewise among all those fast-talking women. The male characters are as fully realized, as complex and as capable of growth and transformation, as any of the women.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short is, ultimately, about those transformations. It's about the healing power of family forgiveness, even when it comes to the wounds that go back to when Mama didn't love you enough or Daddy wasn't paying attention or your little sister got to ride in the front seat while you had to squeeze in the back. In McMillan's novel, those old hurts are batted back and forth among the characters so often that sometimes it is a struggle to see the whole picture and, therefore, the whole truth. In this, the reader's journey is similar to the one taken by the Price family itself, requiring us, like them, to take one step back for every two steps forward, but promising great rewards if we just commit.

When Viola's family gathers on Thanksgiving to share the letters she has written each one, absolving them of all crimes, real or imagined, the book signals a transition for McMillan, as well as for her characters. In A Day Late and a Dollar Short, she seems to have decided that forgiveness is preferable to harsher judgments, especially in matters of the heart. Where this kinder, gentler worldview will ultimately lead McMillan's female characters is still a mystery. For the moment, it seems enough that they can simply forgive, forget, and, finally, exhale.

Essence
A valentine to the power and beauty of black families and the indestructible bond that holds us together.
Newsday
...McMillian's assured and empathetic writing brings them so strongly to life...leap off the page...This book is a gift.
Undoubtedly, McMillan's finest novel to date...a delicious family saga...McMillan has an uncanny ability to render family conflict with both humor and compassion...a life-affirming read...a triumph.
Village Voice
McMillan's best book yet. She has a true comic gift.
New York Newsday
[A] slam dunk of a novel...this book is a gift.
People
Touching and funny.
Chicago Tribune
By the last pages you're weeping. You're laughing. You're hooked. It's oh-so-good.
Toronto Star
Nobody does it better.
Los Angeles Times
Undoubtedly, McMillan's finest novel to date...a delicious family saga...McMillan has an uncanny ability to render family conflict with both humor and compassion...a life-affirming read...a triumph.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Viola Price is the truth-telling, trash-talking Las Vegas matriarch at the center of McMillan's eagerly awaited new novel. As the book begins, Viola is in the hospital recovering from a devastating asthma attack, and she's decided to turn her life around, even if it means causing her large, unruly clan a little discomfort. Lewis, Viola's only son, is a drifter, handicapped both by his genius IQ and his alcoholism. Janelle, the youngest child, is perpetually searching for the perfect career, while ignoring signs that her 12-year-old daughter is in trouble. Viola's relationship with her perpetually angry middle daughter, Charlotte, is so volatile that Charlotte periodically hangs up in the middle of phone conversations, while Paris, Viola's eldest, appears to be brilliantly successful, but is actually desperately lonely and has developed a dependency on pills to maintain her superwoman act. To add to the confusion, Cecil, Viola's husband of 40 years, has moved in with his girlfriend, Brenda, a welfare mother pregnant with a child that may or may not be his. The story of how the family puts it back together is told from the perspective of all six main characters, and McMillan moves easily and skillfully from voice to voice. The characters are not entirely sympatheticDlike Viola, McMillan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) doesn't sugarcoat the truthDbut knowing their weaknesses does make their acts of courage all the more meaningful. This is a moving and true depiction of an American family, driven apart and bound together by the real stuff of life: love, loss, grief, infidelity, addiction, pregnancy, forgiveness and the IRS. (Jan. 15) Forecast: Gutsier and less glitzy than How Stella Got Her Groove Back, McMillan's latest has perhaps the broadest appeal of any of her novels. A major national advertising campaign, national publicity, a TV and radio satellite tour and a 12-city author tour will get the word out and drive the book toward the top of the charts. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Tate
McMillan seems to have stepped up her game, her literary funksmanship, with this book. Funny, finely crafted, profound, and pathos-ridden when it needs to be—breezy when it does not—A Day Late has my unlettered vote as her best book yet... is contemporary African American naturalism at its best.
Village Voice
Ruth Coughlin
Viola's feisty yet compassionate voice is the strongest here; she spits out her opinions about everything from the untrustworthiness of men to the allure and durability of Thomasville furniture. Five years after the publication of McMillan's last novel, it is good to see her back in top form. Her breezy yet detailed portrait of this wayward family is both moving and memorable. New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451211088
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/06/2004
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
214,924
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Can't nobody tell me nothing I don't already know. At least not when it comes to my kids. They all grown, but in a whole lotta ways they still act like children. I know I get on their nerves—but they get on mine, too—and they always accusing me of meddling in their business, but, hell I'm their mother. It's my job to meddle. What I really do is worry. About all four of 'em. Out loud. If I didn't love 'em, I wouldn't care two cents about what they did or be the least bit concerned about what happens to 'em. But I do. Most of the time they can't see what they doing, so I just tell 'em what I see. They don't listen to me half the time no way, but as their mother I've always felt that if I don't point out the things they doing that seem to be causing 'em problems, who will?

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A glorious novel...without question, this is McMillan's best." —The Washington Post

"McMillan has the uncanny ability to render family conflict with both humor and compassion...a life-affirming read...a triumph." —The Los Angeles Times

"Touching and funny." —People

"[McMillan] in top form." —The New York Times Book Review

Meet the Author

Terry McMillan is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of five previous novels and recipient of the Essence Award for Excellence in Literature.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Danville, California
Date of Birth:
October 18, 1951
Place of Birth:
Port Huron, Michigan
Education:
B.S. in journalism, UC-Berkeley, 1979; M.F.A. in film, Columbia University, 1980

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Day Late and a Dollar Short 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 216 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Day Late and A Dollar Short was my first Terry Mcmillan book and it was ALL THAT! She brings to the table a family known all to well to us: the daughters and the son don't communicate and the parents are on the edge of getting a divorce. The book opens with Viola, the mother, in a hospital for an asthma attack. The husband, Cecil, is with somebody else. The son (their only) is an alcoholic. The oldest and their first daughter, Paris, is a perfectionist. The second oldest, Charlotte, is the disrespectful daughter with a few problems of her own. The youngest, Janelle, is married to an older man. The family has a substratum of mistrust and unspoken secrets which contribute to the lack of communication. But it is in the mother that they all find their love for one another. Terry speaks as though it were her own family which gives me feel comfort reading the book--plus it's spoken in language you can understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. I loved it. Every since I read the book, I use the phrase, "You are a day late and a dollar short." Definitely worth checking out.
ludgy michel More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Terri McMillan delivers the eventful, and dramatic story of a family whose family tree has much more meaning than realized. This story is broken down in the perspectives of six main characters and allows the readers to gain neutrally biased opinion of each experience this family endures. The moral of the story is valid and invaluable: there's not much a dollar can fix anyway. The message is delivered by way of heartache, headache, disease, discomfort, violation, loneliness and family love. And there's not a dollar bill in this world could make up for the voids in this family's season.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started out well. By the end,it felt disjointed
MsIna More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed "A Day Late and a Dollar Short", Terry McMillan is one of my favorite authors!!
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This is a great read especially if you're looking for a break from TV and need a good story. I couldn't put this book down every page had me on edge wanting to know more.
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One of my favorites from Terry McMillian.
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