Nurturing Friendships in Getting to Happy
By Elena Maria Vidal on June 15, 2011
"My marriage is over. I live alone now. This is not the way I dreamed it. This is not what I had hoped for, what I had asked for. I want to skip this part. I want to push the fast-forward button until I get back to happy." ~from Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
Happiness is the ever elusive goal of the four heroines of Getting to Happy, the sequel to Terry McMillan's best-selling novel Waiting to Exhale . Long-term happiness, however, is not found in men, or careers, or clothes, or even in the lifelong, sisterly bond they share, as Savannah, Robin, Bernardine, and Gloria discover as they journey along the bumpy road of existence. Although I never read Waiting to Exhale or saw the movie, I had no trouble becoming acquainted with the girlfriends and quickly found myself caught up in their lives. They are four engaging ladies with unique perspectives whose deep friendship helps them overcome obstacle after obstacle. Every chapter offers a panoply of the chaos that haunts the modern world, including porn and drug addiction, divorce, gang violence, child abuse and other vices. While the feminist revolution opened to women the promise of pursuing self-actualization by opening up job opportunities, it could not guarantee happiness. Once again, we learn that happiness lies in the intangibles of devotion, generosity and love.
I would have enjoyed Getting to Happy much more had it not been for the frequent cursing. It seemed demeaning for such intelligent women to be using constantly the F-word as if bereft of any other expressions. I was glad when they jointly resolved to clean up their language (except for Gloria who already spoke like a lady). The book also shows how the sexual revolution, while promising happiness through free love, leaves people unequipped for the void they experience when the great sex disappears. The protagonists, at least in the beginning of the book, tend to rate their happiness based upon how much physical ecstasy they have had. Part of their journey towards maturing gracefully is that they discover the joy to be found in self-donation and that love can be expressed in many ways.
Getting to Happy is not the kind of book I usually pick up since the language was on the rough side and a seedy side of life is shown. The heroines are good-hearted, though, and their nurturing friendship is a beautiful thing to see. Sometimes when life appears to be ending, it is only just beginning. Changes mean challenges, which open up new paths to creative endeavors.
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