* No Spoilers *
Our four friends from “Waiting to Exhale” are back! Almost two decades ago, best-selling author Terry McMillan introduced the world to Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria, four black women in Arizona who were trying to figure out their careers, family and waiting for the moment when they could breathe easily about their romantic lives. McMillan’s new book “Getting To Happy” picks up 15 years after our last encounter with the four friends in our head and it’s a doozy– lots of drama to giggle and fuss about over Sunday brunch.
As you read “Getting To Happy” you can’t help but imagine the actresses from the 1995 film. Whitney Houston is Savannah who has married since we last saw her. Umm, does anyone else remember the scene where Whitney Houston’s character is talking to Lela Rochon’s character and says “What do you think he’s going to say? I’m a crack head?” Yeah. We all know crack is whack. Unfortunately, Savannah’s marriage is boring and loveless and she decides to opt out for a number of reasons, but being single at 51 brings its own set of challenges.
Bernadine, played brilliantly by Angela Bassett (who can forget the car fire scene?), eventually married that guy she met at the bar. Surely you remember the Wesley Snipes character that literally slept with Bernadine all night, clothes on and all. Well, some soap opera worthy drama takes place and Bernie ends up gaining a pretty bitter attitude toward men. Her experiences lead her to take some, shall we say, happy pills a little too frequently.
Robin (Lela Rochon) has slowed down quite a bit. She had that baby girl by Russell (Leon) and has settled into a job she hates, a shopping addiction and raising a smart, mouthy teenager who is the definition of alternative. She’s the only one of the crew who has yet to walk down the aisle and she feels some type of way about that.
Gloria (Loretta Divine) married the character played by the late Gregory Hines. She enjoys over a decade of marital bliss, until…well, you’ll have to read the book for that.
Instead of waiting for that good deep breath, the ladies are all actively searching for their own individual definition of happiness. Does McMillan use any of her own experiences like she did with “How Stella Got Her Groove Back?” Well, there are no young, bitter, gay ex-husbands, if that’s what you’re after. Gloria’s ex-husband is gay, but not exactly young or bitter.
McMillan toggles chapter by chapter between first person and third person omniscient to tell readers of the ladies’ latest adventures. She seems to be a ‘love her or hate her’ type of writer. If you loved “Waiting To Exhale,” you’ll love this. You might be a little mad, annoyed or frustrated with how some of the story lines play out, but however you slice it, you’ll be emotionally invested. If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at the thought of another McMillan book, keep it moving because you won’t like this one either.
On a side note, having “Getting To Happy” in current times as opposed to having it set right where the first book left off, is something of a genius move. The actors who played in the 1995 movie are now about the same age as the characters in the new book. Well played McMillan, well played.
Madames, do you plan on reading “Getting To Happy?” Which “Waiting To Exhale” character is most like you?