Relating to Gloria in Getting To Happy [SPOILERS]

BlogHer Review

Terry McMillan's latest novel, Getting to Happy, is the long awaited sequel to her 1992 best seller, Waiting to Exhale, and tells the story of four fifty-ish best friends who are at a crossroads as they face divorce, grief, drug addiction, and loneliness. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should start this review by admitting that I have neither read Waiting to Exhale, nor seen the movie.

We catch up with the four friends, Savannah, Robin, Gloria and Bernadine, in the year 2005, fifteen years after Exhale left off, and though McMillan tells us that the women are either approaching, or have newly entered their fifties, her descriptions throughout the book give them an air of being much older. Where I expected to find a vibrant group of girlfriends hidden between these pages, I found instead women who seemed somehow resigned by their ages.

Each chapter follows one woman, with the occasional chapter sprinkled throughout bringing all four of the friends together. Something that I found to be particularly distracting as the reader, was the way that McMillan had chosen to tell two of the characters' stories in the first person, and two in the third person, leaving me to wonder for the first several sentences or few paragraphs of each chapter, exactly who it was that I was reading about.

As with any sequel, readers who have not read Waiting to Exhale may stumble along a bit to make sense of certain characters as they pop in and out of the story without much explanation, Dottie and Sister Monroe to name a few, but McMillan shares enough with us to get a handle on their roles nonetheless.

I kept waiting for someone, somewhere, in some way along the line, to surprise me, but unfortunately each pivotal moment in the book -- from the revelation that Bernadine’s daughter is a lesbian, to the death of Marvin, to Bernadine deciding to enter rehab, to Robin losing her job, and beyond, felt more predictable than the last.

With every cloud there is a silver lining however, and for me it was in McMillan’s portrayal of Gloria’s grief over the sudden and unexpected death of her husband Marvin. Anyone who has suffered a loss such as Gloria's will be able to relate through the use of strong imagery in the scenes in Gloria's home, to her emotional state immediately following Marvin’s death.

I wish I had more positive to report about Getting to Happy, but unfortunately for me, Getting to Happy only came with the turn of the last page.

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