Finally, These Women Are Getting To Happy
The phenomenon that was Waiting to Exhale sort of skipped over me (I was in high school when the book and movie came out), so I was completely unfamiliar with the story and characters when I got the sequel Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
Turns out I probably didn't need to worry about it. Getting to Happy is the continuing story of the women we met in Waiting To Exhale, but I think it would be just as enjoyable on it's own as a story of four women facing the challenges of job changes, divorce, grief and growing older. Life, basically. I enjoyed Getting to Happy much more than I did Waiting to Exhale, because the focus is not solely on men and relationships and what dogs men are and blah blah blah. The first book irritated me primarily because the women were either perpetual victims of complete assholes, or so stupid in their decision making that I couldn't find even the slightest respect for them. Getting to Happy started out in a similar fashion (McMillan seems to like kicking these women down), but it evolved as the story progressed and became more about growth and personal development than simply drama and tragedy.
I cannot admire characters who spend the whole time complaining about their lot in life, while sitting back and letting circumstances dictate their own happiness. And it finally seems like McMillan couldn't either, because she gave the four women in her book sense enough to take control of their own lives, and go out to find happiness instead of just waiting for it to show up. It is a shame that these women took 15 years to learn that no one except themselves can determine whether they are happy, but it is a relief that they finally did -- and that we got the chance to discover it with them.
There are probably many fans of the first book out there who can really identify with both books and these characters and the details of their lives; no doubt that is why it was so popular in the first place. I personally didn't find much in common with these women -- I am currently younger than they were even in the first book, and have never been divorced, cheated on, single until I was 50, childless, or in a dead end career. I am also not African American, which plays a huge role in the lives of these characters as well as the books. None of that interfered in the slightest with my enjoyment of these books, however, because they are written with such care and attention to detail. The women in these books are REAL women, their pain and mistakes and foibles are so intimate and truthful that you can't help getting caught up in their world and their lives (and the people in their lives -- some of the main character's children are the most vibrant, appealing characters).
Whether you are already a huge fan of Waiting to Exhale, or a complete newbie to Terry McMillan, I highly recommend reading Getting to Happy. Read it to identify with women in the same stages of life you are in. Read it to experience getting older before you actually get there. Or read it to enjoy an engaging story with realistic, intelligent characters. Just read it.