Getting to Happy - Almost!
Getting to Happy is the sequel to Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. I couldn’t remember Waiting to Exhale and at my age, that happens. I’ve read many books that have long since receded into the shadows of my mind. I downloaded "Waiting" to my iPad -- first the prequel, then the sequel -- refresh the memory and put things in order. It is what women my age do. Waiting to Exhale was enjoyable, a bit dated, but the familiar pop culture references were a good stroll down memory lane. I remembered being single, wondering where I was headed and I identified with the characters. Mostly, I was happy that I had journeyed beyond that stage of my life.
The reminiscing set the stage perfectly for Getting to Happy. I thought, “Good, here we go, move on, tick tick, let’s get to the happy part, the part where we know who we are and what we want.”
Delighted, I opened Getting to Happy and was reintroduced to our quartet of heroines twenty years later on in life. I loved the idea of a reunion, sans name tags, plus hot flashes, being friended by a long forgotten BFF on Facebook. We settled in, there was the cocktail hour, ‘here I am now’ and ‘this is what I’m doing’, unfortunately, after the small talk and the first blush of excitement at seeing each other, getting to happy became difficult. I didn’t feel like I was getting the whole story. Ms. McMillan’s format of dedicating rotating chapters to each character, although their lives are intertwined, only gave us glimpses into the ladies’ lives. This left me wanting more. I didn’t just want brie in puff pastry and a glass of white, I wanted to know everything, I wanted a sit down dinner. A cocktail and appetizers were not going to be enough with these ladies, I wanted the whole party including dessert and a sleepover, a girls' weekend where I got to hear all the dirt.
The characters have suffered, succeeded, found loves, lost loves, then found real loves (haven’t we all?). We get reacquainted while they are in the throws of some of their darkest hours. Between the four they endure everything life can throw at any woman and I so badly wanted to hold their hands through it all. But I was left sitting in the corner of the room just watching while they were getting to happy and not really sharing with them how hard it is to get there.
Don’t get me wrong, this light book is a perfect summer read and you should read it. Getting to Happy is great for poolside or as a companion on the dock. It isn’t going to consume your weekend and you can pick it up and set it down as you like.
If you are a “woman at a certain age” this book will make you nod and say to yourself, “She knows”. Terry McMillan’s characters are women you will recognize. Maybe you are one of them. If you’re not at that age yet, you might recognize yourself in the younger characters as they navigate their way through the lives of their mothers, aunts and sisters who are on the way to happy.
So why didn’t I love this book? It’s true, I didn’t. Friends would notice me reading and ask, “Is it good?” I said, “Yes, but …” I would stop there. I didn’t really know why. After some quiet thoughtful meditation (yes, women at a certain age have learned to stop, drop and roll, we take the time to find out why we feel a certain way), I realized, it’s not the author’s fault.
Terry McMillan has written for us a good book, but it is an amuse bouche, a taste, because finally, I discovered the proverbial beach read that spoke to me. I am a “Woman At A Certain Age”, WAACA as my husband says -- eerily close to whacko --- he might have something there -- I sneak chick lit books from the library, keep them hidden in my bedside drawer, they're never out on the coffee table -- I deserve a bit of a fluff in my life, but those books are for young girls -- first loves, first babies, first jobs, first over-extending yourself shopping, yeah, right, whatever! Getting to Happy presented me with characters that are my peers.
Where is the WAACA lit? I am no longer a “chick”, I need this. We all need books for women at a certain age and I am hoping Terry McMillan offers us more, because the WAACA's are increasing in numbers and we are Getting to Happy.