Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting to Happy by Terri McMillan

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale was more than just a bestselling novel-its publication was a watershed moment in literary history. McMillan's sassy and vibrant story about four African American women struggling to find love and their place in the world touched a cultural nerve, inspired a blockbuster film, and generated a devoted audience.

Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she's made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life-to wear a wedding dress- has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything. All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They've exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

Waiting to Exhale ended with these four friends venturing off into their futures. Their lives had been altered by change and adversity, but somehow, together, they found hope.  It seemed like they had been holding their breath through their youth and as they were really coming into their womanhood, they discovered that life gets messy.  There are things that can and will happen that are beyond their control, but through it all the truth about themselves could always be found in the solid relationships that they managed to build with each other.

In Getting to Happy, we find these women fifteen years older. Life as they thought it would be is rather different.

Bernadine has divorced her second husband, who had been living a double life the entire time they were married. She has lost her footing. She has become dependent on prescription medications to counteract the anxiety and insomnia. Doing her best to mask her financial problems from the people she loves. Somewhere along the way she got stuck in the pain of her past.

Savannah managed to marry a man well below her pay grade. She loves him, beyond the shadow of a doubt, but the thrill is gone. How did she get to a place where the comfort of having a man was more important than honest-to-goodness peace of mind? When she finds out that he has a porn fetish, she finds the strength to do what she has known she needed to do for a long time - divorce him.

Robin had always been the hottie of the bunch, but she traded in her nights out for grown-up chats with her teenage daughter.  She also traded the dating game for a shopping addiction. She can't go a day without buying something that she doesn't need. When the company that she has worked at for over 18 years is acquired in a merger, Robin finds herself in the unemployment line, without a clue to what she'll do next. A blast from the past reminds her of who she really is - phenomenal.

Gloria achieved something spectacular over the last 15 years - she found happiness with the man she loves, who loves her back in just the right way. She married Marvin her neighbor and they have been in love, all this time. When tragedy strikes all too close to home for Gloria, her world falls apart and she has no idea how she will ever recover.

I was very surprised at some of the events that happened in the lives of these four women.  At the same time, I was glad that Terry McMillan didn't try to paint an unrealistic picture of what life is like. No matter how much you have it together, change and challenge will inevitably arrive. The wind will be knocked out of your sails. Tragedy and pain are par for the course. Life is NEVER perfect...not even in fiction.

I believe the point of the book was to show that you can fall down and get up again. There is a resilience in the human spirit that is second to none.  With the right support system in place there is nothing that we can't do, no obstacle that can't be conquered, and no pain that is too great to bear.

I give this book:
This book was self-purchased. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.


Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

Even after all of the buzz surrounding this book I haven't been compelled to read it. I'm going to hear Terry speak at the National Book Festival so she may win me over. Super excited about her panel session!

NinaLaZina said...

This has inspired me to read this book. Maybe also to give as a few Xmas presents! Thanks for review. Nina

Zabrina said...

New Follower from the Books to the Rescue iPad 2 Giveaway Event! Maybe you can follow me back, thanks for the great giveaway! Excellent review I will have to read this one.

Post a Comment

I love reading comments, almost as much as I love reading books!


Powered by Blogger.