Review : Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
For those of you who fondly remember Terry McMillan’s popular novel, Waiting to Exhale and the feature film adapted from it, you may have wondered what happened to the four close friends once they reached their moments of ‘exhalation’. As of September you will no longer need to wonder. Terry McMillan has decided to revisit these four unique and interesting women and catch us up on where they are fifteen years later.
When we last saw Bernadine, Robin , Savannah and Gloria they were all about to enter new phases in their lives. Bernadine had been awarded a divorce with a generous settlement and was ready to start her life anew. Likewise, Robin was awaiting the birth of her child, alone yet content. Gloria had found her true love and Savannah had found her own measure of happiness and fulfillment. In short, these four friends were happy. Of course, happiness is a transitional thing, a place that no one can remain forever, but it can be a destination to strive for. No matter what life throws at these four women, they do their best to keep that destination on their horizon. They accomplish that through the strength, loyalty, devotion and honesty that we first saw in Waiting to Exhale
Terry McMillan does a wonderful job of stapling the past to the present without making the effort seemed forced. The loving and devoted tapestry of friendship these four women have shared over their lives is expanded without missing a thread, despite the changes they have endured. Although the essential elements of the characters of Bernadine, Robin , Savannah and Gloria remain true to the women we met in Waiting to Exhale, they have been changed and broadened by the experiences of the past fifteen years. Those experiences, in addition to the ever changing demands of their lives has altered the dynamics of their friendship in many ways. For one thing, they have to try a lot harder to maintain the connection which once was so effortless. Almost every woman with friendships of long standing can identify with that challenge.
In many ways, these women are facing the same kind of challenges and problems they faced before, but because they are at different places in their lives those challenges take on a new dimension. Bernadine must once again learn to survive an awful betrayal, Savannah must learn how to trust again, Robin must learn how to live for herself, and Gloria must learn to let go and find strength in herself.
As with the first book, McMillan has created women we can identify with, like and commiserate with – women we are or are friends with ourselves. They are true to life; flawed and inspiring, strong and weak, generous and petty, self-involved and self-sacrificing. Because of that, as McMillan takes us through this new chapter of their lives and friendship, we cheer for them, cry with them and wish them well as they make their way on the road to happiness. We are invested in the outcome, because they are each of us in one way or another, and we all want to “get to happy”- at least for as long as life will allow.
Review by Brenda Seward
Simple Pleasures Books & Gifts
Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan will be released through Penguin Books, September 7, 2010