Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review - Getting to Happy by Terry McMillian

I finished the book and I just sat still. I thought about the ladies like I really knew them. I sat there and I was actually really happy - for them. The book picks up 15 years later from where the last book left off. I think the best thing of all is that I was able to put a face to a name because of the actual movie 'Waiting to Exhale' starting Whitney Houston (Savannah), Angela Bassett (Bernadine), Loretta Divine (Gloria) and Lela Rochon (Robin). I actually finished the 373 page turner in about 4 days. I didn't want to put it down.

15 years later the ladies are still sassy, drama-filled, supportive of one another, making mistakes and working on their lives. The door is permanently closed on 40 and they are entrenched in their 50s as they set about rediscovering themselves as black women with grandchildren, mortgages, failed marriages and collapsed business ventures.

Savannah, who had not married at 40 in 'Waiting to Exhale,' is married in the sequel to Isaac, a carpenter, who builds decks, gazebos, fences and pergolas. He also loves pornography so much so that she files for divorce. Besides, he is Republican. "I felt like I was married to a Nazi or something.''

If that's not bad enough, Bernadine, who had just gotten divorced and met an amazing man, is now a failed business owner. But all that glitters isn't gold. She learns in a phone call from another woman that her husband is married to another woman -- the caller herself. Now, she spends her days in a haze of prescription drug self-medication, trying to forget what was and hoping for what will be.

"He's the scam artist, honey, not me,'' McMillan writes. "I just accidentally found his other wallet under the front seat of the car when I took it to the car wash, and there was the name James Wheeler and all kinds of credit cards. So, I realized this son-of-a-bitch has been playing me, too. How much has he hit you up for and how long have y'all been married?''

And bad girl, Robin, who was about to become a single mom after suffering through a string of failed relationships when readers last checked in on her, is still chasing her dream of getting married. She discovers online dating and is typing her way to love. In the end it amazes me how love, sometimes, is right in front of your or how we settle because of age or the fear of doing without.  

"There," McMillan writes. "I slide away from the computer and try to figure out what I can do to fill up the rest of the night or to make the time pass until I hear the computer letting me know I've got mail. I decide on laundry. I do three loads, including drying them and folding them...''

Gloria, who had given up all hope of falling in love, did get married in 'Waiting to Exhale' but in 'Getting to Happy' your mouth will drop when you read what happens. You will really wonder how could she ever get back to happy.

Though she writes in the prologue that she never intended to write a sequel, McMillan became excited thinking about what could have happened to these women. "And that's when I realized I had the perfect candidates for this story,'' she writes. " 'Getting to Happy' is the result. In this novel, these women learn how to heal past hurts, how to start doing things that stop them from feeling 'navy blue' instead of 'lemon yellow.' We all know that happiness isn't a permanent place you arrive at, but these women learn it's the choices you make along the way that contribute to how often you feel it.''

Excerpts of this review written by Lynette Holloway

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