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Maxine Banks is Getting Married

Maxine Banks is Getting Married

3.5 2
by Lori Aurelia Williams

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When seventeen-year-old Maxine Banks from Houston, Texas convinces her boyfriend to marry her, she finds out that marriage isn't quite what she had in mind.


When seventeen-year-old Maxine Banks from Houston, Texas convinces her boyfriend to marry her, she finds out that marriage isn't quite what she had in mind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Desperate to leave home, 17-year-old Maxine fakes a pregnancy so her mother will let her marry her boyfriend, Brian ("I could hear Mama taking out her unhappiness on the pots and pans I left drying in the sink.... The banging didn't bother me. All I could hear were the wedding bells ringing in my ears"). But Brian soon leaves her for a "trashy" schoolmate, forcing Maxine to look after his troubled teenage cousin, Demonee, in exchange for money for her mortgage and bills. Williams's fans will recognize the well-drawn, impoverished Houston neighborhood and many characters (including Maxine) from her other books. Readers may sometimes feel bogged down by the expository dialogue and heavy plotting (among the many twists, Maxine discovers that Brian's new girlfriend is actually pregnant, and she walks in on Demonee holding hands with another girl). But the never-ending drama keeps the pages turning quickly, and although Williams can belabor Maxine's delusions about her future, Maxine is a gutsy and likable protagonist; her gradual realization that she needs to grow up, while not unexpected, still comes as a relief. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“It’s a pleasure watching [Maxine] learn from experience and apply that earned wisdom, especially the dawning recognition that if Demonee has the right to be loved and accepted for who she is, so has Maxine herself.” --Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Leila Toledo
Seventeen-year-old Maxine's image of her future is living happily ever after. She has seen her best friend, Tia, get married and enjoying a happy marriage. Maxine is convinced that getting her boyfriend Brian to marry her will make her happy as well. But nothing could be farther from reality. When Brian, betrays her and she finds herself alone and pregnant. His father offers Maxine a solution that will radically transform her life. Maxine's need to lie about the circumstances of her marriage just adds to the story's complexity. The miracle that unfolds from all this is that Maxine manages to confront these issues, remain true to herself and works out a way to get on with her life. It can leave a teenager thinking about the choices she makes in life and her responsibility for shaping her own future. Reviewer: Leila Toledo
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
Maxine's life is a train wreck, with one bad thing happening after another. Most are due to her inability to think things through. She tries to do the right thing but ends up lying to make things go the way she wants them. She truly loves Brian and thinks being married to him will make her life better, but it turns out to be a disaster. Brian takes up with another girl and gets her pregnant, right after they get married. Maxine takes in thirteen-year-old Demonee so Brian's dad will pay the bills, but she is in way over her head. Demonee is more than a seventeen-year-old girl can handle. Maxine does her best for Demonee while trying to get over her heartbreak. As she works through these problems, the reader can see her maturing. At the end, she realizes she needs to take time to grow up. The story has a convoluted plot. Maxine bulldozes everyone into making her wedding happen, even Brian, who is reluctant to take that step. Demonee gets into more and more serious trouble, letting her "girlfriend" talk her into things she should not do. Maxine keeps lying to get Demonee out of trouble until it is too serious to talk her way out of it. The story will make teens think twice about marrying just to get out of a bad situation. It could spark discussion on themes of honesty, marriage, possible homosexuality, and growing up. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Maxine Banks's friend Tia has just gotten married and moved away, and Maxine decides that she wants to do the same so that she can get away from her mother and her mother's domineering live-in boyfriend. She convinces her boyfriend, Brian, also 17 and still in high school, that they should get married. To get permission, since they are underage, they tell their parents that Maxine is pregnant. With no idea what this commitment will entail, Maxine steamrolls over all of Brian's doubts and questions. Everything falls apart, however, when Maxine finds out that Brian has become involved with their neighbor, Shell, and that she is, in fact, pregnant. Wondering how she's going to pay the rent and other bills after she kicks him out, she gets a reprieve from an unlikely source—her father-in-law. He'll cover all her expenses and give her some extra money if she will keep his middle-school-aged niece, Demonee. Maxine agrees and tries to help the surly, troubled girl. The title is misleading since Maxine gets married and separated within the first 100 pages. The remaining story is about her life after the separation. Although the teen matures a bit from the foolish and somewhat selfish girl she was in the beginning, most of the characters are one-dimensional and stereotyped. The late addition of Demonee's possible homosexuality seems designed to add another demographic group to the mix. This wordy, often repetitious novel may appeal to some girls, but the lack of action will limit its readership.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Kirkus Reviews
From the first line, the eponymous narrator—affectionate, funny and smart—draws readers into her story with the same strong will she uses to persuade her longtime boyfriend, Brian, to tie the knot. Now that her best friend is married, plus-size Maxine, 17, longs for her own wedding and escape from the selfish mother who's always valued her boyfriend du jour higher than her daughter. Sights fixed on wedded bliss, headstrong Maxine ignores abundant warning signs that Brian is ambivalent, and the marriage quickly collapses. Instead, she's manipulated into parenting Demonee, Brian's troubled cousin, while struggling to finish school and heal her wounded heart. Set in the world of Williams's earlier fiction (When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, 2000, etc.) the plot is overlong, repetitious and rambling, while the pivotal marriage is given puzzlingly few pages. However, Maxine, through sheer force of character, holds readers' interest. It's a pleasure watching her learn from experience and apply that earned wisdom, especially the dawning recognition that if Demonee has the right to be loved and accepted for who she is, so has Maxine herself. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
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Read an Excerpt

Maxine Banks is Getting Married

By Lori Aurelia Williams

Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2010 Lori Aurelia Williams
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6220-9


My best girlfriend Tia just got married. She married her longtime boyfriend Doo-witty. Tia's mama didn't want to let Tia get married because she was barely seventeen, like me. But when her mama found out that Doo-witty got an art scholarship to a school in New York, she knew that Tia's heart would be completely broken if she couldn't go with him. So Tia and Doo-witty got hitched. They had their ceremony down at the Tabernacle of the Blessed Redeemer, where Sister Ashada recently became the lead minister. Tia's mother and Grandma Augustine did all of the decorations, including Tia's beautiful white satin gown and lace veil. The pews of the church were decorated with homemade red velvet bows and fresh red roses from their garden. Me and Tia's little sister, Shayla, were bridesmaids, and Shayla's friend Kambia read an original prayer. Everybody in the neighborhood came. The sanctuary was so full that the ushers had to seat people in the balcony. The entire event was wonderful — the ceremony, and the reception with the four tier Italian Cream wedding cake. There was much love and happiness going around on that day. My friend Tia got treated like a queen, and ever since her wedding I've been thinking that I want to be treated like a queen too. All last night and this morning I psyched myself up for what I'm getting prepared to do today. As soon as I finish getting dressed and prettied up, I'm going to go and see my boyfriend, Brian. Then, before he even gets a chance to shower and shave, I'm going to ask him to be mine. I haven't worked out all the details of the wedding and marriage, but I know it will be okay because he loves me as much as Doo-witty loves Tia. I believe when two people love all crazy like that, the only thing to do is take some vows and promise to spend the rest of your life together. After I spray on Brian's favorite perfume, I'm going to put on his even more favorite purple halter dress, the one that I wore to the seventies soul dance, and then I'll match the dress with my purple three-inch slingbacks. The shoes will hopefully make me look taller and leaner, and the dress will show off my curvy waist and full bosom. I know I'll look hot once I'm all fixed up, and Brian will think I'm hot too. He won't be able to take his eyes off me when I tell him what I have planned for our future.

I slipped into my dress and curled my hair. I guess I was hot inside and out, because I was sweating, and by the time I got to Brian's my curls were limp and damp. I didn't look all that alluring anymore. I prayed that my appearance wouldn't bother my future husband.

I took out the key that I use to water the plants when Brian and his dad go on business trips, and opened the door. I knew that Brian's dad was away again, but I still tiptoed through the house. I went straight to Brian's room and pounced on him. He slowly turned over and opened his eyes.

"Wake up, sleepy head. I want to talk to you about something," I said.

"Maxine, what's up? Give me some sugar?" he said and yawned.

I leaned over, and we shared a quick kiss.

"Is that all I get?" he asked.

"Until you brush your scuzzy teeth."

"So it's like that. All right," he said, getting up. He threw his spread back and sat on the side of the bed in his black knit boxers and muscle shirt. He looked too hot like that. "Guess what? I got some good news about you and me."

"Good news? What kind of good news? Baby, what are you talking about?" he asked and yawned again.

"I'm talking about you and me, being like Tia and Doo-witty. I've been thinking about it for a while. I've been thinking about how we can live by ourselves. You know, handle our business and do our own thing."

"Do our own? What? Baby, what you talking about, getting married or something?" he said, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.

"Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. What do you think?" I asked, excitedly.

He got a big grin on his face. "I don't know. You and me married, huh? We be getting our wedding on, and everybody be showing up, giving us presents and stuff."

"Yeah, it will be so cool," I said, bouncing up and down on the bed.

He stroked his chin. "Yeah, it could be, I guess, if we can pull it off."

"You know we can. I'm making money working at Bobby's on the weekend, and your boss at the card shop is about to make you an assistant manager. That will mean a bunch more cash in your paycheck."

"Not a bunch, but more, for sure. Still, I don't know. Where we gonna live? My daddy might be okay with it, if he ain't got no choice, but do you really want to be dealing with him all of the time? You know my mama ain't going for it, and I'm guessing a big part of this is trying to get away from your own mother."

"Yeah, you're right about that," I had to confess. Besides being a little jealous of my girlfriend and her new husband, I really wanted to get away from our families. Brian's dad loves him, but he likes to have everything his way, and when someone disagrees with him there is usually hell to pay. As for my mother, she is the biggest reason why I want to get married and leave home. Her boyfriends have always come first. When there's a new man in the house, Mama's attention is completely focused on him, his wants, his needs. My great-aunt Freda says that Mama was like that from a teenager. "When she started dating that was the end of my spending any kind of time with your mama. She and I were real close, like me and you are now, but a new boyfriend always meant that I couldn't get her to visit me for weeks or sometimes even months. It's just the way it is with some women. They men mean everything to them. There ain't no room for anybody else."

It certainly is true with Mama. I can't count on her for anything, if somebody with a beard or a mustache is around.

"I don't know how we gonna do it, Brian. First, I just want you to say that you really want to see it done."

He put his arms around my waist and pulled me to him. "I guess I hadn't thought too much about it. Anyway, I love you. I want whatever you want. You are my girl. If you say you want to be married, I'm cool with that," he said, and gave me a huge kiss. I returned it, even though he still needed to brush his teeth.

"Are you sure?" I asked, when we pulled away.

"You know it. It's gonna be you and me girl. I'm gonna be standing up there in a tux, looking all GQ for my favorite girl."

I hugged him tightly, thinking about how he really would look. Brian isn't what you would call handsome. He has a nice body, but overall he is an average-looking African-American guy, and you wouldn't pick him out in a crowd of young guys his age. What I love about him is the way he treats me like a queen. My girlfriends all get jealous when they see the things that he does for me. When I need something, he never lets me down, no matter what he has to go through to get it. Last year I was playing volleyball at school when some girl went to hit the ball and ran right into me. I fell and broke some teeth, and my mouth was a mess. When Mama took me to the dentist, he told her that it was going to cost a fortune to replace or fix the teeth. Mama asked the other girl's mother to help out, but her family was even poorer than ours. As soon as Brian found out that the girl's family wasn't going to pay, he said he would help us with the bill. He took on extra hours at his job. He was exhausted most days when I saw him, but with all of us pulling together we were able to pay the entire bill off before the oral surgeon even started working on me. I felt blessed and loved to know that I had a boyfriend who would sacrifice so much to help me. That's what I love about Brian, he has never left me hanging. I want to get married in a beautiful white wedding dress like Tia, but as far as I'm concerned he can show up to our wedding in jeans and a basketball shirt. I just want him there, saying his vows and sharing the moment with me.

"So we really gonna do this? You're sure?" I asked.

"Yeah, we gonna do it, but you know your mama ain't gonna like it. She freaks out when we alone in your room. She not gonna be happy with us wanting to be alone together forever."

"Mama will be cool, baby. Don't worry about it. It's gonna work out. I just have to figure out a way to put it to her."

"Well, you put it whatever way you need to. Do whatever it takes, and we can work the rest out later." He yawned again. "Since you done woke me up, I might as well get dressed and get to work a little early," he said, getting up.

"Okay," I said. I leaned down and we shared another kiss. I didn't wrinkle my nose at his breath. I figured I was going to have to get used to it, if I was going to wake up each morning beside him. Brian gathered some clothes and went off to the bathroom. When I heard the shower turn on, I sat down on the bed and took a deep breath. What was I going to do about Mama? All I could think is how my mama has photos of me in every room of the house. Some are those boring posed ones that you take at school and your local discount superstore, but most of them are snaps she's taken of me on special or fun occasions. There are at least twenty photos of my birthday parties in various frames sitting in the living room and thirty-five Christmas photos in the hallway and her bedroom, but you won't see Brian in any of the photos, even though he was present when most of them were taken. "Mama, why don't you take some pictures with Brian in them?" I asked, each time she took a snapshot.

"Maxine, I ain't wasting my film on that boy. You the only one who thinks he put all them stars up in the sky. You photograph him."

"Mama, be nice."

"Maxine, I am nice. I just don't need no pictures of anybody but you. Can you understand that?"

Of course I could understand. Brian wasn't her kid, she didn't need a photo of him. Still, I knew her reasons for cutting him out of family memories was because she never really wanted me with him. Mama has always thought that Brian wasn't the guy for me because of his family. She doesn't really get along too well with his dad, and she hates his mother. It's mostly because his parents both have money and professional jobs, but Brian's mother also got into it with Mama once at one of my birthday parties. When she came to pick Brian up, they got into an argument about Mama's boyfriend. He was more friendly to Brian's mother than he should have been, and Brian's mother didn't like the attention. She told him off, and when Mama got involved Brian's mother told Mama that she should go back to school and get some professional job training, so she wouldn't need some player to pay the rent. Mama exploded all over the place that afternoon, and after that it was a long time before she let Brian come over. When he did come back, she started treating him like she really didn't want him there. Things have gotten a little better lately — a little. I hope and pray it's enough to let her say yes to my getting married.

Back at my house I busied myself with washing a load of clothes while Mama slept. I washed and hung out some sheets and watched them blowing softly in the breeze. Mama loves pastels, but the sheets are dirty dishwater gray because Andre likes them. I can't stand the brother. He's always worried about what Mama does with her money. If I ask her for some money, he always has to ask me what I'm going to do with it, and if he doesn't like my answer he tells her not to give me the cash. Then there's his babies' mama, LaTrice. He got two little boys by her, and she's always coming to our house acting a fool with him about child support. The last time she came I was the only one home. She started going on and on about how Mama and me was taking money that was supposed to be for her kids. I got into a bad argument with her, and I had to physically push her out of my front door because she started swinging. Later, when Andre asked her what happened, she lied and said I started the whole thing, so Andre punched me over it, and Mama didn't stand up for me at all.

"How you gonna let him treat me like that?" I asked, crying.

"Maxine, he didn't hit you that hard, plus you know Andre got a short temper. Next time his ex comes around don't get all up in her face. Just be cool about it," she said. I was pissed off for days. Then Mama got mad at me for being pissed off. She told me that Andre was the only dad I had and that I should be trying to get along with him. I've never really known my real dad, but he sure as heck isn't Andre. My aunt Freda says that he was some nice guy that Mama was hooking up with, but all he did was work and didn't like to go out to the clubs much, so Mama started going out with somebody else and dropped him. Aunt Freda says that Mama told her once that she'll always regret breaking up with my dad. He would have been a good father and a good role model, if she had let him stay around. Now all she has to look forward to are poor substitutes.

I watched the sheets until I heard Mama get up and start her morning routine. When I went inside, she was sitting on the sofa with a half-eaten cereal bar and the latest issue of Jet magazine.

"Maxine, where you been?" she asked.

"Washing and hanging out clothes."

"No, I mean before that, you know I sleep light. I heard you going out of the front door."

"Oh, I went to see Brian."

"What for? What were you doing over there so early?" she asked suspiciously.

"Just talking."

"About what? Maxine, what you got to talk to Brian about this early?"

"Just stuff."

"Just stuff. What kinda stuff requires you slipping around to his house before the sun is barely up in the sky?"

"I don't know. I only went to tell him that I love him."

She rolled her eyes. "Is that all? Look, Maxine, every time I see you, you all over that boy. He knows how you feel. You ain't got to go slipping out of this house to meet up with him."

"I wasn't slipping, Mama. I thought you were still asleep."

"I'll just bet you did," she said, giving me a glare.

"Come on, Mama, don't be all funky this morning. I got something to ask you."

"What is it?" she asked, adjusting her bandanna over her pink foam rollers."

"It's about me and Brian."

"What about ya'll? What is it now? And just so you know, this is my day off. I ain't got time for no foolishness."

"Aw, Mama, I ain't talking about no foolishness."

"Well, what is it? Spit it out," she said, screwing up her lovely brown face.

"Mama, come on."

"Don't 'come on' me. You got something to say, Maxine, say it."

"It's about me and Brian. We been thinking about it, and we want to be married."

She dropped her magazine and looked like I had just driven a bus through the living room. "Maxine, have you lost your mind? You ain't nowhere near ready to be nobody's bride. Do you hear me?"

"I hear you, but why not? I'm not a kid anymore, Mama. Me and Brian been together for ages."

"Been in school together for ages, been hanging around this house sucking face and being silly together, that's what ya'll been for ages. Ya'll ain't been doing nothing that makes me think you ready to be a wife. You may not be a kid no more, but you are far from being an adult."

"Not that far, Mama. In case you hadn't noticed, I've been getting really grown up."

"No, what you been getting is too grown. You think you some kind of woman, to tell me what to do in my own house," Mama said, getting up off the sofa.

"I'm not trying to tell you what to do, Mama. I'm trying to tell you that me and Brian are in love and we want to be together, like Tia and her boyfriend."

"Like Tia — Lord have mercy. I should have known what this was all about. I knew that little fast-tail friend of yours was gonna send you off in the wrong direction!" Mama yelled.

I rolled my eyes. "Mama, don't go there. You ain't got to call Tia out."

"Why not!" she hollered. "Ain't she what this is all about?"

"No, Mama, I just told you, it's about me and Brian. We want to be together."

"You are together, Maxine, but what you ain't gonna be is together and married. You can't do that without my permission, and you ain't gonna get it. You're way too young."

"No, I'm not, Mama!" I said angrily.

She pointed her finger. "You can get as mad as you want, but I ain't changing my mind. And that's it, Maxine," Mama said, starting to walk away.

I grabbed her arm, and she turned around like she was gonna knock me into the field across the street. "Maxine, who you think you jerking?" she asked.


Excerpted from Maxine Banks is Getting Married by Lori Aurelia Williams. Copyright © 2010 Lori Aurelia Williams. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

LORI AURELIA WILLIAMS holds a master's degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was awarded both a James A. Michener Fellowship and a scholarship in creative writing. The author of several books for young adults including WHEN KAMBIA ELAINE FLEW IN FROM NEPTUNE and BROKEN CHINA, Ms. Williams lives in Austin, TX.

Though Lori Aurelia Williams adored reading as a child, she never thought she'd be a writer when she grew up. While studying English at the University of Texas at Austin, she departed from the traditional lecture and composition courses and took a creative writing class on whim. Through that class, she learned she loved and had a gift for storytelling. For her fiction, which combines African-American storytelling with street slang, she was awarded a creative writing scholarship and a James A. Michener Fellowship. Born in Houston, Lori Aurelia Williams now lives in Austin.

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Maxine Banks is Getting Married 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Group1Nook 97 More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book!
kathy huggins More than 1 year ago
i read the sample and it caught my eye enough to buy the book . i recommend this read to mothers with teenage daughters. im going to let my daughter read this book.