“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.