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Mama by Terry McMillan
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The very first time I heard about Terry McMillan’s debut novel, Mama, was in my African-American literature class in college. The book was not on our reading list but McMillan’s name came up in a discussion where the professor stated that Mama was some her best writing. I held that statement in the back of my mind for years. After reading Getting to Happy, McMillan’s latest novel, I decided to read Mama.

The story is being told by Mildred the matriarch of the Peacock family and the main character of the novel. The peacock family consists of four girls and one boy: Freda, Bootsey, Angel, Doll and Money (the son). Mildred’s husband name is Crook and he is nothing but a drunken womanizer who beats her. Mildred has this fierce love for her children but it never comes through as affection. She has this do as I say, but not as I do type way of raising her children. We come to realize that Mildred cannot display anything she has never received. Mildred marries two times after her and Crook’s divorce but it is always for the wrong reasons and never lasts. What makes Mildred’s quest for love so ironic is that she knew her father, Buster, loved and favored her.

Of the children we see the most promise in the oldest, Freda. Freda was always the caretaker when Mildred fell short even for Mildred herself when her drinking and mind got the best of her for a season. Money because he never really had a father figure in his life turned to a life of crime and drugs. Bootsey, Angel, and Doll all grew up married and had children and problems of their own. Freda too was plagued by drugs and alcoholism but was determined to persevere. Mildred also daily turned to the bottle to wash away her problems.

This was a novel about family. A family with their own unique problems and how they depended on and were there for each other during the hard times. Mildred did not always get it right but she always had a connection to her children. Mildred came across as your stereotypical angry black woman throughout the entire novel. McMillan never really “redeemed” her in my opinion. There was also a flow to this novel you never got stuck. The chronological order of this story was simply amazing. One quality that reins true of all of McMillan’s novels is that they are all “true” stories that we can relate to. ( )
  pinkcrayon99 | Oct 26, 2010 |
From Library Journal
Mama , a first novel, tells of a proud black woman, Mildred Peacock, and her five children. After a violent fight, Mildred throws her drunken husband out of the house. On her own in the poor town of Point Haven, Michigan, Mildred scrimps and drinks, works and goes on welfare, struggling to raise her kids and keep her sanity. Mildred's closest bond is to her oldest daughter, Freda, and their lives parallel each other's progress from despair to hope. The book's main weakness is that the author apparently could not decide what to leave out. She also has not decided who her audience is: at times she seems to be writing to blacks, at other times to be explaining things to naive white readers. Although the story has power, it lacks focus and a clear point of view. Janet Boyarin Blundell, MLS, Brookdale Community Coll. Adjunct Faculty, Lincroft,
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. ( )
  gnewfry | Oct 23, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451216717, Paperback)

The explosive novel that introduced #1 New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan-now in a new trade edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Mildred Peacock is a tough, funny and feisty woman who'll do anything to keep her family together. Men come and go as quickly as her paychecks, but her children are her dream, hope and future. She faces poverty with dignity and strength.

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