Happy From the Get-Go: Popping My Own Terry McMillan Cherry
By sarahspangenberg on June 20, 2011
Let me preface this review by saying that I've never read any of Terry McMillan's books. Though the woman, undoubtedly, has a cult-like following, contemporary chick-lit was never really my thing. I had, however, seen Waiting to Exhale a zillion times, and it was one of my guilty pleasures, so naturally, when I saw the opportunity to read and review Getting to Happy, the long-awaited sequel, I thought "Why not - this could be interesting." The book arrived on a very nondescript afternoon, and upon reading the first few pages, I was hooked.
In a nutshell, Getting to Happy is a follow-up to Waiting to Exhale, and follows the journey of the four main characters, Savannah, Bernadine, Robin, and Gloria, fifteen years after we left them, happy and in love with the men that they waited for to take their breath away.
I literally could not put this book down.
I was a bit lost to start, as I hadn't seen Waiting to Exhale in quite some time and had a hard time keeping the characters straight. Was Savannah the woman whose husband left her for a white woman, or was that Bernadine? (It was Bernadine.) However, despite the initial confusion, which could have been easily resolved by a brief recap of what had happened years prior, I threw all preconceived notions out the door and continued the book as normal.
I won't ruin this review with any spoilers, because there's so much breathless brevity to this novel that to give anything away would truly ruin the mystique surrounding what's going to happen to these four women, but I will say that the book was, as rare as it is for me, a true experience. The novel wasn't just four black female characters living their black female lives and doing their black female thing, it was a vicarious experience that resonated through my soul, whether I was able to identify with the shared challenges and successes of the women or not.
Big, dramatic changes occur in all four of the women's lives within the first fifty pages, and after that, as they say, the rest is history. The book is written in first-person throughout, and each chapter is solely dedicated to a particular woman and her point of view as she navigates the massive mid-life hurdles and surprises that she's faced with.
Truly, if I had to choose two words to sum this novel up: emotionally invested.
McMillan, though sometimes questionable in her portrayal of white women, hits a home run with this epic follow-up to an equally epic book, and I truly hope that she's involved in any screenplay that may be adapted from this novel in the future. MAKE IT HAPPEN, Hollywood!
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