September 17 was the release date for Terry McMillan’s latest tome and with an excerpt in the latest Essence magazine, “Who Asked You?’”’s debut in retail outlets should fly off the bookshelves. Just a few hours before an author appearance at an adjacent B&N, McMillan takes my pre-arranged phone to talk about the new release from her hotel in New York City.
One of the attractions of McMillan’s novel is that she writes from each character’s perspective, engaging the reader into the narrative. “Who Asked You?” looks at the modern family configuration and how the concept of a nuclear family (two parents and children in the same household) has become a quaint notion in today’s reality of absentee parents and grandparent(s) raising their children’s children.
In this novel, we get the point of view from 15 characters and each one adds additional layers of understanding.
An integral part of being a writer is observation and research and McMillan was captivated by the stories she was told.
“I’m concerned about grandmothers’ raising their children’s children and the choices they make: retirement versus saving yourself or family. These women make tremendous sacrifices to spare these children from the foster care system.”
McMillan researched women raising their grandchildren to develop a composite for her main character, Betty Jean, who’s minding her two young grandsons as her daughter leaves town to get clean and her life on track. There is no pat category for these second-time-around mothers – grandmothers raising grandchildren cross all ages, ethnicities and income brackets.
When McMillan comes to the Byham Theater on Sept. 30, she will read excerpts from her book and will autograph copies of “Who Asked You?” after the lecture.
If you would like a personalized autograph, you’ll need to purchase $40 tickets which admit you to the pre-lecture VIP reception from 6:30-7:30 p.m.. All other tickets are $17 for the first floor and mezzanine, $10 for gallery seating.
(Terry McMillan’s appearance is being co-presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. For more information about the event, call 412-622-8866 or visit pittsburghlectures.org.)
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