Sometimes All We Need is Our Girlfriends: Getting to Happy
By Brittany Ann on June 29, 2011
I read Getting to Happy, hoping to catch a glimpse of my future.
After all, the novel's characters are in their 40s and 50s. They have some years on me.
But they are women. And, if the novel's prequel -- Waiting to Exhale -- taught us anything, it's that Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria are relatable, regardless of your station in life.
Except in this go-round with the foursome of friends, I wasn't sure I gleaned as much as I did from Terry McMillan's original foray into the lives of her characters.
Savannah was frustrating, making choices in her marriage that didn't seemed justified. Her husband's offenses seemed put-upon, so as to help reader's understand her frustrations, but his character was so inconsistent, and Savannah's willingness to quickly give into him and just as quickly cut him off followed suit.
Bernadine was charming, but detached. You wanted to see her delve deeper into her relationships with her kids and her ex-husband -- a male character that the reader does fall in love with as the story develops. And, yet, she doesn't. (Spoiler alert!) Even after her stint in rehab, we're never left with a solid conclusion on how Bernie's life and emotional state will really pan out.
Initially, Robin seems the easiest to relate to -- boring job, shopping addiction, amazing, albeit mouthy, teenage daughter -- but McMillan fills the character with strife and angst over things like online dating. It seems trivial, while her friends deal with bigger, harder issues.
Like Gloria, who starts out the novel by losing her beloved husband. The best, most relatable woman of the bunch, Gloria deals with the death of her other half, the obligation she has to her spa and salon business, and the hopes she has for her son and her grandchildren, who also lose their wife and mother, respectively, thanks to a host of bad choices and criminal circumstances.
The reader sees Gloria wallow and grieve -- she gains back the weight she worked hard to lose before her husband's death, for instance -- but we also see her rise above it, deal with it piece by piece, and end up stronger, though still imperfectly human, at the end.
Still, what kept this book going was the unbelievable bond McMillan portrays these four women as having.
Whether you're black or white, old or young, rich or poor, you relate to how the girls gab, harp on each other, and drag each other all around town and up and out of their various funks.
They are the quintessential girl group, a sorority bonded through love that every woman knows and shares with at least one fellow sister, and which men, drugs, death, and business can't bring down.
So, while I found three of the four women a bit out of touch, I related wholeheartedly to their need for each other.
And I found that, in the scenes where all four of them were nestled together watching a movie or dancing together at some benefit, I finally related to them. All of them.
Regardless of our age difference, I, too, was right there with them, chatting about my issues over mojitos and busting a move on the dance floor, simply because I am a woman.
And when it comes down to it, in Getting to Happy, McMillan did remain true to the one principle readers initially loved her for: Sometimes, all we need is our girlfriends.
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