Category: The Bestseller Code 100 (page 1 of 12)

#BestsellerCode100: Number 71. The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader.

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Bourne Betrayal* by Eric Van Lustbader

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Jason Bourne is a spy who has lost his memory. Now he fights to stay alive while he figures out his real identity and pieces together his past.

Robert Ludlum wrote the first three novels in the Jason Bourne series:

  1. The Bourne Identity (1980)
  2. The Bourne Supremacy (1986)
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum (1990)

After Ludlum passed away, Eric Van Lustbader continued the series, starting with The Bourne Legacy (2004). The Bourne Betrayal is the second novel written by Lustbader.  The novels have also been made into a popular movie series starring Matt Damon.

Summary:  In this novel Jason Bourne goes to rescue his friend, a CIA deputy director, who has been kidnapped. The chase takes him to Africa where he discovers he might be a pawn in a plot to destroy America.

Have you read The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 70. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007) – Discussion begins December 26, 2017. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008.

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  As a romance, The Marriage Bargain provides the reader with a modern day tale of a marriage of convenience, a bargain agreed upon by two adults for reasons having nothing to do with love.  What can go wrong?

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Marriage Bargain* by Jennifer Probst


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Romances

If you are looking for a light-hearted romantic romp in some expensive surroundings with a good bit of sexual heat, then The Marriage Bargain might just be the ticket.  I usually prefer historical romances, as I’m often more interested in the historical settings and times than in the sexual heat of the story.  Even so, this story kept my attention to the end, with only the occasional skimming through the sex scenes.  The characters were engaging and there were enough twists and turns to keep me suitably engaged.

Cliches Everywhere

In a romance, cliches (or the Tropes that Roberta wrote about) are to be expected, but I thought Probst did a good job of presenting a fresh take on some of the more obvious cliches.  I enjoyed the interplay between animal-hating Nick and animal-loving Alexa, especially when Alexa tried to hide from Nick a room full of dogs from the animal shelter.  Seriously, what could go wrong there?

There was really only one section where I actually cringed.  Nick goes to a poetry reading and upon seeing Alexa across the room, thinks:

Her true sexiness lay in her ignorance of her effect on men.

It’s not the first time I’ve read such a statement.  Lately, though, when I see this and similar statements, I have to wonder why anyone would think that true sexiness can only be evident when the woman is least aware of her sexuality. The idea persists that a woman cannot be sexy and still worthy, that somehow knowing she is sexy diminishes her in some way.  Unfortunately, this dichotomy continues to persist in the romance novel world.

Billionaire Series

The Marriage Bargain is the first novel in The Billionaire Marriage trilogy.  I was interested enough to find out what happens to Nick’s sister and Alexa’s best friend Maggie May that I read the next in the series, The Marriage Trap, which I actually liked a bit more than The Marriage Bargain.  In The Marriage Trap we meet up again with Nick’s business partner, Michael Conte, and are then introduced to all of Michael’s Italian family, so there are quite a few more characters in this second novel of the series.  These new characters, plus the fact that this book was set mostly in Italy, made it all the more enjoyable.  I now need to read book 3 in the series, The Marriage Mistake, as it concerns Michael’s youngest sister, Carina Conte.  Writing a series where the characters are related is obviously a good way to ensure readership!

Do you enjoy reading romances?  If so, do you have a particular type you enjoy?

 

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Have you written about The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 71. The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader (2007) –  Discussion begins December 11, 2017
Thriller

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Let’s take a look at our latest book from The Bestseller Code Challenge,  The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst, from a writer’s perspective. (The discussion began here).

This post contains spoilers.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Alexa Maria McKenzie needs money badly. Billionaire Nicholas Ryan has to have a wife right away. She is his sister’s childhood friend, so getting married as a business arrangement seems the best solution.

Characters

The Marriage Bargain has the smallest cast of characters of any of the books we’ve read so far. The main character is Alexa Maria McKenzie, a young woman who owns and runs a bookstore. She wants to help her parents keep their home by giving them money, but she doesn’t have any to spare.

The male lead is Nicholas (Nick) Ryan, whose uncle left him a business with the caveat that he get married right away or he won’t inherit. He is willing to marry someone as part of a business arrangement, with the idea that the wife will get a certain amount of money and the marriage will dissolve in a year.  He has a girlfriend, Gabriella, but for some reason he’d rather marry Alexa, who he hasn’t seen in years. Gabriella’s main role seems to be to make Alexa jealous.

Nick’s sister, Maggie Ryan, has been Alexa’s best friend since childhood. Michael Conte is a businessman whose main role is to make Nick jealous. Add in her parents and his father, Jed, and that’s about it.

The story is narrated alternately by Alexa and Nick in tight third person point of view.

 

marriage-bargain-bookstore-owner

Public domain photo found on TrendHype

Setting

This novel could have been set anywhere, but the author describes it as “a trendy upstate New York college town.”

Discussion

Romances tend to follow certain formulas, and this one has tropes* galore. The irreverent TVTropes website Romance Novel Tropes page has an extensive list of the different types, and some of the obvious ones in this book are Marriage of Convenience, First LoveWill They or Won’t They, and of course, Happily Ever After. As a writer, I did love how Probst prolonged the “unresolved sexual tension” by having the police show up in one scene. I’m working on a mystery novel where I’m stewing my brains to come up with believable scenarios to keep two characters from becoming involved. I have to admit I didn’t think of having the police arrive at a crucial moment.

Regardless of the tropes, the voice in The Marriage Bargain is fresh and enjoyable. The novel is an easy read, and I was able to finish in essentially one sitting.  I like that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the main character isn’t prone to angst. She takes her knocks, gets up, and keeps going.

For Readers:  The Marriage Bargain is the first in a series. If you are a fan of romance novels, particularly romance with a bit of heat, then you might want to give them a try.

For Writers:  Jennifer Probst also has nonfiction book, Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success. And if you have a minute,  she has a funny story about her writing muse on her blog. Writers will totally relate to her experience.

(*A trope is a writing device or construct that readers readily recognize. You can think of tropes as shorthand storytelling devices, but they also might qualify as clichés. )

Have you read The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join us on social media:

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What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 71. The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader (2007) –  Discussion begins December 11, 2017
Thriller

#BestsellerCode100: Number 72. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst.

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Alexa Maria McKenzie needs money badly. Billionaire Nicholas Ryan has to have a wife right away. She is his sister’s childhood friend, so getting married as a business arrangement seems the best solution. Or is it?

This novel is part of the bestselling Marriage to a Billionaire trilogy.

 

 

Have you read The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Have you written about The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 71. The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader (2007) –  Discussion begins December 11, 2017
Thriller

#BestsellerCode100: Reader’s Review of The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Gudenkauf’s novel hooked me from the first page of the Prologue, where young Calli appears out of the woods and speaks for the first time in three years.  Why is there a deputy sheriff on the scene? What happened in the woods that caused Calli to speak?  What did she say?  And why did she quit speaking in the first place?  Who is Petra and why does her father crumble to the ground when Calli speaks?  So many questions to be answered!

This post does contain spoilers.

 

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Clear Your Calendar

Don’t plan on getting anything else done when you pick up this book.  I stayed up way too late two nights in a row to finish this book.  Several times I put it down to try to sleep and lay there thinking about the characters, wondering what was going to happen next, and then ended up picking it back up to read more.  By presenting the story from the viewpoint of different characters, the plot line moves along quickly and the suspense builds throughout.  Several character options are presented as the possible bad guy and since each are plausible, you really cannot guess who “did it” until the very end.

Silence

At first it seems apparent that the word “silence” in the title refers to Calli Clark, who has been a selective mute for the past 3 years.  Calli’s silence is only the most obvious.  Several other characters employ various modes of silence in order to cope with untenable situations.  Calli’s mother Antonia creates in her mind alternate versions of the episodes of abuse she suffers at the hands of her husband, Griff, hiding from herself how truly bad her family situation is.  Sheriff Lewis kept silent years ago when Antonia told him that she was marrying Griff,  when he knew he should have spoken up and tried to prevent that marriage, and he continues to subsume his love for Antonia, to the detriment of his own marriage.

Difficult Topics

The Weight of Silence deals with some very uncomfortable topics – alcoholism, spousal abuse, kidnapping, child sexual assault – so if these topics are not something you can handle, then you should skip this book.  That said, Gudenkauf handles these difficult and uncomfortable topics in a very tasteful manner, if that’s possible.  Certain subjects are carefully alluded to without being graphic or gory.

Author Heather Gudenkauf hit a home run the first time out with her debut suspense novel.  I’ve recommended my local public library acquire all of her novels and look forward to reading them soon.

Disclaimer:  I had so very much more to say about this excellent book, but have been sick since Thanksgiving Day and my fuzzy brain isn’t working on all cylinders.  My apologies for an abbreviated review.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf? Feel free to add a link to your review to the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 72. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst (2012) – Discussion begins November 27, 2017
Romance

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Let’s take a look at Heather Gudenkauf’s fabulous The Weight of Silence  from a writer’s perspective. It is Number 73 on The Bestseller Code Challenge list.

This post contains spoilers.

 

The Weight of Silence

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Two young girls, Calli and her friend Petra, disappear from their homes  early one hot August morning. The tension builds as their families struggle to find them. Will they be too late?

The Weight of Silence is Heather Gudenkauf’s debut novel. Some of her newer titles include Not a Sound and Missing Pieces.

Genre

These days many novels have the label (or mislabel) “suspense,” but The Weight of Silence is a pitch perfect example of the genre (see explanation in previous post). Before we’re too far into the story, we learn a little bit about how each girl goes missing. Because of that, now we are glued to the pages as the tension mounts. Will they be found before something worse happens?

All the textbooks in the future should have The Weight of Silence under the definition of suspense. Yes, it’s that good.

Characters

The chapters are named for and narrated by different characters, mostly in the first person. For example, the prologue is narrated by Antonia, who the mother of one of the missing girls. In the first chapter we meet Calli, a seven-year-old girl who refuses to speak. With one exception, the author tells her story in tight third person, which reflects Calli not having a voice.

Calli’s best friend and neighbor Petra Gregory is the focus of the next chapter, again told in first person. In later chapters we meet Petra’s father Martin, Deputy Sheriff Lewis (who has a history with Antonia), and Calli’s older brother Ben.

In contrast to the forceful voices of A Day Late and A Dollar Sort , the differences between the voices of Gudenkauf’s  characters are much more subtle.  A few reviewers have called the author out for not developing clearer lines between the characters. but I’m not sure I agree. Yes, writers are taught to make each character sound unique. From a reader’s perspective, however, it might be easier to read if the text has less jarring shifts. After all, at some level we know one author is telling the entire story. Do we really need vastly divergent voices to be able to suspend disbelief? What do you think?

Setting

Gudenkauf does an excellent job of giving the reader a sense of place. The Weight of Silence is set in Willow Creek, Iowa (Check this cool map of the settings of all of Gudenkauf’s novels).  The families are isolated, far away from town. The girls are lost in  the surrounding forest, which adds to the ominous atmosphere.  It is a hot August day and the reader can feel the oppressive heat. Each detail of the setting ratchets up the tension.

Public Domain photo via VisualHunt

Discussion

There’s so much to discuss about this novel it is hard to know where to start. I’m going to mention a couple that stood out for me that haven’t been mentioned in a lot of other reviews.

Right in the beginning the details of Calli’s school life caught my eye. For example, a child who didn’t speak at school would have a terrible time asking to go to the restroom, and “urinary accidents” would be a forgone conclusion. I remember my son’s first grade teacher complaining that her classroom was farthest from the restrooms and how many of her students put off asking to go until it was too late. It was not surprising to read Heather Gudenkauf spent many years as an elementary school teacher. Those incidental details helped make the story ring true.

In addition, I liked how the author chose have Petra’s father Martin narrate rather than Petra’s mother. The contrast between the two fathers worked nicely. Because Martin tended to act impulsively, he drove some of the later conflict, as well. His viewpoint of how devastated Petra’s mother was gave the reader perspective.

As a reader I found this book hard to put down. The suspense pulled me in and made me want to find out what happened on the next page, then the next, then the next. Resist the temptation to skim, however, because Gudenkauf has packed in many good things that build on each other.  Because it succeeded in pulling me out of the writer’s perspective, which is a rare thing these days, it is worth taking a deeper look at this author’s bag of writing tricks.

Have you read The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about  The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf? Feel free to add a link to your review to the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 72. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst (2012) – Discussion begins November 27, 2017
Romance

#BestsellerCode100: Number 73. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, 73. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Two young girls, Calli and her friend Petra, go missing in the night. Now their families struggle to find out what happened to them.

This is Heather Gudenkauf’s debut novel.

Have you read The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about  The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf? Feel free to add a link to your review to the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 72. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst (2012) – Discussion begins November 27, 2017
Romance

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Terry McMillan’s A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Let’s take a look at  A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan from a writer’s perspective (the discussion for the novel began here.)

This post contains spoilers.

 

A Day Late and a Dollar Short*


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  This novel is a peek into the dynamics of a complex and frankly dysfunctional family.

You might recognize some of Terry McMillan’s other novels, such as Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

Strengths of A Day Late and a Dollar Short:

Each chapter of the novel is narrated from the first person point of view by one of several different members of the Price family. Moving from character to character might be confusing in some hands, but Terry McMillan is adept at it. You can identify the voice of the featured family member readily. With an an amazing ear, she plays with slang, dialect, rhythm, and sentence length to give each character a memorable voice. They talk, think and act like a real, recognizable people.

Characters’ Voices

How does the author change the voice of each character to make them unique? Let’s look at some actual examples.

Matriarch of the family,  Viola Price

Viola is a strong-willed, opinionated  woman and her words reflect that. They gush onto the page in stream of consciousness rush, with a few expletives strewn in like boulders to make her points.

“I have tried my damnedest to like George, be nice, act civilized toward him, but I can’t pretend no more… Janelle brag that he got over six hundred people working under him. I ain’t impressed in the least.

Her estranged husband, Cecil Price

Cecil has a bit of a Texarkana twang.  He says “ain’t,” “thank” instead of think, and “everythang” instead of everything. (This must have been a nightmare for the copy editor.)

I shoulda stayed a little longer. I know I shoulda… Seemed like she wanted me to hurry up and leave. At least that’s my thanking on it. She said no to everythang I asked her.

Their oldest daughter, Paris

Single mom Paris supports her son with her catering business. Her voice is as clean and sophisticated as she can make it.

I also heard I’m a perfectionist. Which I will admit to:  and proud of it. They make it sound like a dirty word. All I have to say is:  don’t hate me because I’m organized.

Their second daughter, Charlotte

Charlotte was born on her mother’s birthday and sounds the most like Viola.

It’s times like this when I wish I hadda went to college. Hell, if I could ever find the time, I’d like to go back to school:  at least take a few classes. Not necessarily for no degree.

Their third daughter, Janelle

Janelle is educated, although a bit lost in her own little world.

Of the three girls in my family, I’m the smallest. I should say, the most fit. I’m the only one who works out,…I’ve been trying to persuade Mama and my sisters — particularly Charlotte’s big butt — to at least try walking. But they’re too lazy.

Their son, Lewis

Lewis had a lot of potential when he was young, but gets sidetracked into a life of crime. For the most part, Lewis speaks in short sentences.

I got a job. But it’s on hold. I’m on disability right now. Don’t nobody in my family believe I got rheumatoid arthritis.

Once you see the patterns, it is easy to recognize which character is speaking in each chapter without them actually being named. This ability is not easy to achieve, and Terry McMillan deserves recognition for her ability to carry it off.

 

Public domain photo via Visualhunt.com

Weaknesses of A Day Late and a Dollar Short:

It isn’t a big weakness, but Terry McMillan’s novel comes across at times as a cautionary tale. Everything that can befall a family shows up in the novel at some point:  illness, death, drug addiction, alcohol problems, teen pregnancy, incest, adultery, characters sent to jail, etc. It’s as if McMillan wants you to see how things can go wrong if you make certain choices, and how to avoid those in your own life. That isn’t necessarily a bad goal, but can get wearing over time without a bit of levity or hopefulness. Fortunately, things do perk up at the end as the family members start to turn their lives around.

Discussion

I have to admit that I would never have opened this book if it hadn’t been part of The Bestseller Code 100 challenge. Mostly I was put off by the title, which seemed old-fashioned and a bit lame. After I started reading, however, I was once again reminded how first impressions can be so wrong.  Now I can’t wait to read more of McMillan’s novels.

Why did the computer choose this book as one of the best of the bestsellers? Possibly because there is a strong theme of family and relationships, which was one of the themes mentioned as being important. Also, I’ve noticed many of the novels it selected have been narrated from more than one perspective, or have different voices in different chapters. This one definitely fits that criteria.

Regardless of why the computer chose it,  writers will find it an awesome example of how to develop characterization and realistic dialogue. It is a title well worth examining.

Have you read A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan? What drew you to it? Did you like the title?

 

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 73. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (2009) – Discussion begins November 13, 2017
Genre:  Suspense

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan

A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Author Terry McMillan is known for her strong female characters, specifically African American women in professional and/or matriarchal roles.  If you’ve not read any of her books, I’m willing to bet you are still familiar with them, as many have been made into big-screen or made-for-television movies – Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Disappearing Acts, and A Day Late and a Dollar Short.

This post does contain spoilers.

 

A Day Late and a Dollar Short*


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Strong Matriarchal Voice

As Roberta noted in #BookBeginnings, the first voice we hear is matriarch Viola Price, who quickly establishes herself as a woman with strong opinions and the will to voice them. She doesn’t takes guff from anyone and that includes her estranged husband and her four children. Maybe it’s no accident that none of her children live near her or that her husband has moved out and found a new, younger, less strident woman to live with. Vi is about as subtle as a steamroller.

Even though I didn’t know any African American women when I was growing up, I instantly recognized the voices of a couple of my aunts.  The language Viola uses and her patterns of speech might be different, but her fearless and frank admonitions and advice to her children and extended family are similar to those I heard in my childhood from certain aunts.  If they thought you needed a verbal slap upside the head, they didn’t hesitate to give it to you, whether you had asked for it or not.  Don’t we all have at least one relative that calls it like it is?  I believe this is why McMillan’s characterization of Viola rings so true.  And even though Viola dies partway through the book, her presence is still a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire book.

Family Tree

McMillan provides Viola and Cecil Price’s family tree in the print copy of the books (there was not one in the Kindle version, much to my dismay) and, at the beginning, I  definitely referred to this tree often to keep track of all the characters.  Each chapter is presented from the viewpoint of another character, and they are all vivid, memorable, and believable.  Because of this, it doesn’t take long before you recognize each voice right from the first few sentences of each new chapter.

The family tree is our first clue to just how dysfunctional the Price family is.  Almost every member of the family has had multiple marriages and children from those multiple marriages.  As the book proceeds, the Price family members experience a seemingly unending series of crises – teen pregnancies, an abusive step-father, substance abuse, jail sentences, infidelity – and that’s just in the first few chapters!  Each family member does their best to hide these crises from their parents and siblings, presenting the “all is great” facade to the world.  Viola does her best to hold the splintering family together, but she knows she may not survive her next asthma attack.

For a while I found it difficult to believe that so much could happen to one family in such a short time, but then I lost myself in the characters and ceased caring if it was believable or not.  I only wanted to know what would happen next and if they would all come through the flames intact.

Letters from Viola

Even though Viola dies partway through the book, she remains a vital part of the story. I especially liked how McMillan brought Vi’s voice back in the last chapter.  The entire family gathers together at Thanksgiving and they read aloud the letters Vi wrote to her husband and children before her death.  It was an effective way to bring about a reconciliation.  And though the ending might be too neatly wrapped up, as a reader I appreciated the feel-good ending.  I wanted the Price family to have their kumbaya moment and McMillan came through.

I listed in my opening paragraph all the McMillan novels that have been made into movies.  Amazingly enough, I’ve never seen any of those movies, nor read any of her books.  I will be adding all of them to my “must see” and “must read” lists.  That’s how much I enjoyed A Day Late and a Dollar Short.  How about you?  Did you enjoy reading about Viola Price and her family?

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 73. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (2009) – Discussion begins November 13, 2017
Genre:  Suspense

#BestsellerCode100: Number 74. A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

A Day Late and a Dollar Short*


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: A peek into the dynamics of a complex and frankly dysfunctional family.

You might recognize some of Terry McMillan’s other novels, such as Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

Have you read A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 73. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (2009) – Discussion begins November 13, 2017
Genre:  Suspense

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