“Getting to Happy” Book Review

 

 

“Getting to Happy” by Terry McMillan is the squeal to McMillan’s blockbuster novel and subsequent film, “Waiting to Exhale.” McMillan continues the story of four African-American best friends living in Arizona as they navigate the ups and downs of their romantic relationships. Despite all the turmoil in their careers and relationships, what remains constant is their undying loyalty to one another. Set in the year, 2005, we meet up again with Savannah Jackson, Robin Stokes, Gloria Matthews-King and Bernadine Harris-Wheeler in their early 50’s. 

What I always notice while reading McMillan‘s novels are the errors. For example, Savannah mentions flying to Chicago for the Democratic National Convention in 2004 to see the young senator Barack Obama give a historic speech (p. 7). However, the Democratic National Convention took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 2004. A quick online search to verify the location would have saved McMillan from making this glaring error. In addition to her love affair with run-on sentences, I found myself being taken out of the story several times. 

The novel also lacks subtly. Soon after Bernadine’s daughter Onika mentions that her “girlfriend” is visiting from college, I was not at all surprised when Onika came out of the closet later on in the book. In the next chapter, Gloria happily waited for her husband to come home to celebrate their anniversary. Early on, it became clear things would not go the way Gloria planned.  None of these moments packed an ounce of suspense and often I rolled my eyes, wishing the novel dug a little deeper. The only surprise was Savannah’s husband’s addiction to porn and Bernadine’s husband’s double life on the east coast. 

What McMillan lacks in subtly and good editing she makes up for in snappy dialogue and insightful character reflection. Her characters come to life on the page and if Whitney Houston had not passed away suddenly in February 2012, there is no doubt in my mind, “Getting to Happy” would have made it to the big screen as well. The characters feel like women you know and their vulnerability makes them approachable as subjects. I was near tears when reading Bernadine’s betrayal at the hands of her partner having recently had a similar experience.The losses, whether they come in the form of a significant other, career, or self-esteem, are vivid.  Despite its many weaknesses, “Getting to Happy” is entertaining and reminds readers the importance of true friendship. 

5 thoughts on ““Getting to Happy” Book Review

      1. What did you think of it? I’ve read her other novels, like “Mama” and “Disappearing Act” both of which are much better than “Waiting to Exhale”
        and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” I often wondered why those two books became popular in the mainstream versus her better written and more emotionally powerful previous novels.

      2. I think I liked it…? I think it was OK. I read the books (I just checked – I have read ‘Waiting to Exhale’ too). They did not stand out particularly to me. I think I was more interested in the story and the characters than the style of writing. I think I read those books over 10 years ago. I will have to add those other books to my list.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s