Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I read Getting to Happy because it's our Book Club selection for January. I suppose we chose it because we wanted to see if it would be another "watershed moment" for women to talk about. Ms. McMillan starts in her Author's Note with a reminder that the movie Waiting to Exhale was not the same as the book. My initial feeling was that maybe I should go back and reread that book from 15 years ago. I still have it on my shelf...pocketbook edition with really small font. My Kindle has me spoiled with my choice of font size, so that book went back on the shelf.
I don't remember the details of Waiting to Exhale, book or movie. I read the book, and I saw the movie with two girlfriends, and I remember the occasion. We shrugged and went out for pizza afterward. I bought the soundtrack, and still play it from time to time. Good music by a variety of great artists. I remember the scenes from the movie where the songs were played...Mary J. Blige singing, "I should have left your ass a long time ago," and Patti LaBelle singing "My Love, Sweet Love." The music made a bigger impression on me than the screenplay.
All that to say that I'm not a great fan of Terry McMillan. This "sequel" to Waiting to Exhale was equally ho-hum. I got the feeling she just threw it together since her personal life has been keeping her in the tabloid news.
The four parallel stories of the same four women from "Exhale" would have been an easy read if not for the whiplash effect of changing tense and person. Most chapters are first person, present tense. "I'm driving my car to the casino." And sometimes she doesn't identify who is talking for several paragraphs, and only by way context with characters. OK, Sparrow is here, so it's Robin speaking. Then some chapters are third person past tense. "Gloria was in the backyard pulling weeds." There may be a reason for doing this, but it was lost on me.
I was glad when it was over. The ending fell flat for me. The four women drifted through three-quarters of the book until they decided to pull it together..."Let's meditate."
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