Getting To Happy: The Girls Are Back

BlogHer Review

Girls! Where HAVE you been? It's been fifteen years and we've been dying to hear from y'all!

In Getting to Happy, author Terry McMillan reunites her Waiting to Exhalee readers with Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria. She writes in her Author's Note: "Fifteen years later, however, these women suddenly began to reclaim their place in my heart, and, like old friends you haven't seen since college, I wondered how they might be faring now."

McMillan's fans have been wondering the same thing, and lucky for us, Getting to Happy drops us all squarely into each of these women's lives once again. Getting to Happy picks up the threads of this fascinating quartet of women's lives and weaves yet another rich, colorful story tapestry told using earthy language tones, the complex textures of relationships, and the occasional sparkle of humor. Set in Phoenix, Arizona, the four friends find themselves dealing with families, grandchildren, menopause, and other issues that had never entered their minds as Waiting to Exhale ends.

At one time, Savannah considered her address as" 111 Unlucky-in-love Avenue", until at age 40, she met Isaac -- her "Mr. Once-and-for-All". And as the book opens, Savannah contemplates how their marriage has changed and cooled over the years. She says, "What I do know is I'm tired of feeling navy blue when I have a right to feel lemon yellow." When she discovers that Isaac has been spending thousands of dollars every month on internet porn sites, she realizes that their marriage is over.

Single mom Robin is living a life which revolves around her career and her daughter. Her job as an executive in an insurance company provides her with a comfortable lifestyle with her fifteen-year-old daughter Sparrow. She dotes on her two teacup terriers, Romeo and Juliet. And though her life appears comfortable on the surface, Robin is looking for more. As she approaches fifty she says, "Time has run past me and now her I am forty-nine years old, with no love life and no prospects of bumping into a man... Add to it eighteen years of working at a job I feel no enthusiasm for, where does that leave me? How on earth do you start over?"

Bernadine remembers vividly the telephone call that ended her six year marriage to James -- the conversation in which she is introduced to his other wife and the fact that he had been living as a bigamist for the last five years. The conversation which began her dependence on Zoloft and Xanax.

Savannah, Robin, and Bernadine are envious of Gloria's marriage. Marvin and Gloria have been blissfully married for fourteen years. They have been "...guilty of filling each other's lives with so much love that they often thanked each other for it". Gloria's hair salon, Oasis, has also flourished and she is considering opening a full-fledged day spa and expanding her salon. Life is very good for Gloria until she realizes how quickly her life can change.

These stories are absorbing and fast moving. I found myself feeling unwilling to put the book down once I began reading. The dialogue is witty and eloquent -- dang, I wish I was as glib as these women are -- and the Arizona setting interesting. Each of the four life stories, although they have their friendship in common, are unique and provide different challenges for each character.

Getting to Happy was altogether a satisfying read for me... until the final chapters. Unlike Waiting to Exhale, in which the last page of the book leaves possibilities open and one wanting to know more, Getting to Happy ends with all conflicts resolved and the story wrapped up as neatly as a Nordstrom gift. I got the feeling that this is the last we will hear of these delightful women, and I don't know if I'm ready to say good-bye. Perhaps I am wrong, and someday McMillan will give us yet another glimpse into their lives as they approach seventy, or eighty, or beyond. I laugh when I imagine these gals reviewing their lives as they approach St. Peter's pearly gates.

One can only hope.

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