Getting to Happy Fell A Bit Short of Ecstatic
When any book or movie is extraordinarily popular and adored, it’s fairly difficult to imagine a sequel, let alone a sequel that could come close to holding a candle to the much-loved first one. But when you wait a decade and a half? For a book that was such a cult-classic that it was ALSO made into a movie? Seems like quite the tall order!
I’d like to say that Getting to Happy, Terry McMillan's much awaited follow-up to Waiting to Exhale, more than filled that order, but I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan. Getting to Happy continues the story of Bernadine, Gloria, Robin, and Savannah, four African-American women living in Phoenix, Arizona. Told in alternating chapters of voices, the book picks up 15 years after the last left off, and answers that question that readers are always hungering for after completing a fantastic story, namely “whatever happened to them after the book closed?”
Getting to Happy certainly answers that question, though none of the questions are the happiest. Robin, pregnant in the last novel, now has a 15-year-old daughter named Sparrow, who is as sassy as they come, and has yet to find a good man to call her own. Savannah is finally married to a seemingly nice contractor when she discovers he has a terrible secret that might be the nail in the coffin of their struggling marriage. Bernadine is six years past a terrible second marriage wherein she found out her husband had a second family complete with two children all the way across the country in D.C. Gloria is the only one of the four in a happy marriage, and it is exceptionally happy… until an accident changes things forever.
Each of the stories individually is interesting, and definitely a social commentary on African-American culture as it is. However, everything I really enjoyed about the book also ended up being what I disliked about the book. For example, that social commentary? It was wonderful, but felt a bit over-the-top. All the hot-topic issues like pornography and homosexuality? Innovative, but a bit vulgar combined with the language and dialogue. Overall, while I enjoyed reading about characters and fulfilling that “where are they now?” question, the book itself didn’t “get me to happy”, to use a cheesy reference!