Getting to Happy Didn't Quite Get me There
By Scooping It Up on June 30, 2011
I am just gonna come out and say it: I was mightily disappointed with Getting to Happy. I wanted to love Terry McMillan's sequel to Waiting to Exhale. I wanted to revel in it. Bathe my soul in it. Come away more whole, with more perspective, maybe even a few tear tracks on my face.
I have always had a massive literary soft spot for black, female authors. Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Her Royal Majesty Toni Morrisson have changed my life.
I was but a lass when Waiting to Exhale apparently shook literary circles. And since then it never made my "to read" list.
But I jumped at the chance to read the long awaited sequel Getting to Happy. Because I believe a follow up to a novel that waited this long should be able to stand on its own two feet, and not entirely depend on the first in the series. I thought that if the author went to all the trouble to continue the story of her characters, she must have something important to say about them and how they impacted the world.
I am disappointed to say it didn't stand on it's feet. The four friends around whom the story evolve have a witty, supportive, but sometimes snarky and critical banter much like the woman in Sex and the City, but sadly less endearing. Everything that happened to them in the novel lacked emotional impact for me. They all went through horrible things, and I didn't once get tightness in my chest, gasp from surprise, bite my nails with tension. I wasn't swept along. The writing felt much like a book report: "this is what happens to this person, this is what happens to this person."
The voices McMillan uses are inconsistent. Some characters tell their story in first person, others the narrator is telling about them in third person, but the narrator is sorely lacking in character. It never is clear to me why this happens. I drew the conclusion that in the first book two of the characters Robin and Savannah were more important, and thus were allowed to speak in first person, and two Bernadine and Gloria less important.
My overall impression is that this novel was the result of fans of the first desiring to know what happened to all these characters, who perhaps were more compelling and loveable in the first book. And perhaps getting answers to that burning question might have given me more to go on as far as positive impressions. But the novel was uninspiring and felt uninspired. I wanted more. A lot more.
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