A Long Sad Road to Get to Happy [SPOILERS]

BlogHer Review

Getting to Happy By Terry McMillan brings back the characters from Waiting to Exhale, fifteen years after the first book ends. Savannah, Robin, Bernie and Gloria are still friends and still finding their way through life at age 50 -- marriages, divorces, teenage and adult children, even death.

McMillan's story-telling is still as compelling as ever. Her characters draw you in and keep you turning the pages. They are relatable, the kind of women you could grab a cup of coffee with and chat for hours, the kind that possess a bond that time cannot crack. They are funny, quirky, insightful ...

And they are magnets for tragedy. While I really enjoyed the book, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the main characters, though I'm not sure if that is the true goal of the novel. If something bad could happen in your life, it happens to one of them and tenfold. Cheating spouses, death, addiction, disease? These four women seem to attract all of it.

For much of the book, it seems that happiness is just an illusion. Within the first few chapters, one learns that Bernie's seemingly good marriage was actually a sham and she turns to painkillers to cope; Savannah is in a loveless marriage with a spouse who has a porn addiction and ends up cheating on her; Robin is the perfect catch who has yet to find a man, and Gloria, the one member of the foursome with a truly good marriage, loses her husband in a random act of gang violence on their anniversary.

The book does reach a few small turnarounds and McMillan is a talented storyteller. Getting to Happy is a hard book to put down, simply because the reader feels like something good is bound to happen to the main characters, but the overall outlook on life is a little less than happy.


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