The Washington Post
Getting to Happyby Terry McMillan
In WAITING TO EXHALE, Terry McMillan chronicled the lives and love affairs of women in their mid-thirties, opening up an entirely new literary field and audience for African-American writers. GETTING TO HAPPY, her exuberant and engaging "sequel," revisits the same four spirited women - Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin - now catapulted into midlife.Fifteen years later, her heroines are as sassy, vivid, and smart-mouthed as ever. As a broadcast investigative journalist, Savannah takes pride in her work exposing secrets and scandals - but she never expected to uncover one in her own home that would bring her already diminishing marriage to an explosive end. Bernie has had man problems that put her past challenges in the shade - these days, she finds herself popping pills and forgetting details that she might do well to recall. Robin's high-rolling life as a serial shopper runs into trouble when she loses her job to a merger, and she's hardly faring any better in the world of online dating. Gloria still runs the bustling Oasis salon, but back-to-back family tragedies hit her hard. All four face tough questions about love and loss, but they keep faith in themselves and each other as their lives fall apart and reconfigure. A particular reward of this novel is the cast of younger characters - Bernadine's now-college-age Onika; Robin's daughter Sparrow; and Gloria's son Tariq, married and with young children (and problems) of his own.McMillan's pitch-perfect prose draws us into the deeply affecting stories of these women, highlighting the humor and joy that carry them through their struggles. Although girlfriend time may have eroded somewhat under life's pressures, four-way calls and movie night get-togethers continue to reaffirm the importance of friendship not only to getting by but to chasing that perennial goal - getting to happy.
The Washington Post
"It's great to meet up with old friends again."
"It's great to meet up with old friends again." — People
"Required reading for anyone who cared about Waiting to Exhale."
— Miami Herald
"Signature McMillan...[An] earthy, funny, personal voice." — Raleigh News & Observer
"A phenomenal read." — San Francisco Bay View
McMillan's sequel to her popular Waiting To Exhale picks up 15 years later in the lives of the four Phoenix friends—Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine and Robin—still looking for love and happiness as they hit middle age.
It's 2005 and each of the women is facing a crisis. Formerly overweight Gloria has found domestic bliss until her beloved husband dies in a drive-by shooting on their anniversary. Then she learns she's about to lose the lease on her wildly successful salon, and that her son Tarik's unlikable wife turns out to be a child-abusing, law-breaking adulteress. Gloria starts packing the pounds back on. News producer Savannah is newly lonely after divorcing her husband of ten years because she's bored with him, although his addiction to Internet porn also factors in. Instead of allowing her hard-up sister's troubled son to visit, Savannah treats herself to a jaunt to Paris, but not before she has a dream blind date with a handsome retired doctor. Shopaholic Robin is the never-married mother of 15-year-old Sparrow, a nauseatingly perfect daughter. (Actually, the fact that none of these women have children who talk back or rebel or disappoint like real children may be the real fantasy wish fulfillment for readers, not the sexy romances.) How Robin's salary as an underwriter affords her the luxuries and savings she has amassed is glossed over, but then her company downsizes her out of her job. Soon after reconnecting with a "blast from the past" who has shed 40 pounds to become the love of her life, she decides to become a teacher. Bernadine is still recovering from the annulment of her second marriage six years earlier. Her "husband" was a bigamist who swindled her out of a chunk of her alimony settlement from first husband John. She's closed her café and become addicted to pills, but John and their kids support her when she goes into rehab.
Full of sitcom moments and windy dialogue—aging chick lit at its most superficial.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Penguin Group
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 836 KB
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
The Deep End
"Are you sure you don't want to come to Vegas with me?" my husband asks for the second time this morning. I don't want to go, for two reasons. First of all, it's not like he's inviting me for a hot and heavy weekend where I'll get to wear something snazzy and we'll see a show and casino-hop and stay up late and make love and sleep in and order room service. Not even close. It's another exciting trade show. Isaac builds decks, fences, gazebos and pergolas, and as of a few months ago, playhouses. He's in love with wood. Can I help it if I don't get worked up hearing about galvanized nails or color-clad chain links and breakthroughs in screws and joists?
I don't bother answering him because he's known for weeks I'm under a deadline for a story I'm doing on the rise in teenage pregnancy in Arizona—Phoenix in particular—which is the other reason I can't go. I've been sitting in front of my laptop in my pajamas for the past forty minutes waiting for him to leave so I'll finally have three and a half days to myself to focus. But he is taking his sweet time.
"I didn't hear you." He's looking for something. I dare not ask what. "You'd have the room all to yourself for most of the day. You could still work."
"You know that's not true, Isaac." I take a sip of my lukewarm coffee. I've been to so many of these conventions, trying to be the supportive wife, but I always get stuck with the wives, most of whom just want to sit around the pool all day reading romance novels or People magazine while they sip on margaritas and eat nachos, or linger in the malls for hours with their husbands' credit cards, trying on resort wear for the cruise they're all going on in the near future. I'm not crazy about cruises. I went on one with Mama and my sister, Sheila, and those long narrow hallways gave me the creeps because I've seen too many horror movies where the killer jumps out of a doorway and pulls you inside. After two or three days of being out in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight until you wake up not knowing what country you might be in front of, by day four I was ready to jump off our balcony and backstroke home.
And then there are those obligatory convention dinners. I'd sit there in one of the hotel ballrooms at a table full of contractors and their now-gussied-up wives, trying to be sociable, but I was basically making small talk since they never discussed anything that might be going on in the world. Call me elitist, but this often made me feel like an alien who'd been dragged to another planet by my husband because he, as well as they, didn't seem to think producing television shows about cultural and social issues was as interesting as all the things they could build out of lumber.
It truly irks Isaac that people don't respect or appreciate the role wood plays in our lives. That we aren't aware of how much we take it for granted—as if it'll always be here—and how much we rely on it yet overlook its value to the point we ignore it and its beauty. It would be nice if he still saw me the same way. For about eight of the past ten years it felt like he did.
As Isaac passes behind me, he smells like green apples and fresh-squeezed lemons. For a split second it reminds me of when we used to linger in the bathtub surrounded by sage and lemongrass candles, my back snug against his chest, his arms wrapped around me and our toes making love. Those were the good old days.
I snap out of it.
Now he's pushing my favorite mustard-colored duffel across these terra-cotta tiles with those size-fourteen boots, leaving black scuff-marks behind him as he simultaneously pulls a white sweatshirt over a white undershirt. It's a V-neck and shows the top of a black forest on his chest. "If I could, you know I would," I say while checking my e-mail. Of course there are back-to-back messages from Robin: a joke I don't bother to read and an attachment about a new motionless exercise she told me and Gloria about last week that almost had us choking from laughter. She believes almost everything she sees on TV.
"You just don't want to go," he says, and starts looking through his pockets to make sure he has everything. He doesn't. I know just about all his patterns. "Why don't you just come out and say it?"
"Because it wouldn't be true." I rarely lie, although I'm not always a hundred percent honest. This is one of those times.
"Then I guess I'll see you on Tuesday. After rush hour." He walks over, presses his palms against my shoulder blades, gives them a little squeeze, bends over and gives me a peck on the cheek. I don't feel a thing except the scratchy new growth on his face.
"You have everything?" I ask.
"What if I don't? Would it matter to you?"
"Of course it would matter to me, Isaac."
Right before he gets to the door leading to the garage, he turns and looks at me as if he doesn't believe me. Isaac knows we're on shaky ground. "I'm seriously beginning to think you might be racist."
He's trying to find a button to push. I'm not falling for it. Part of our problem is he's forgotten how to talk to me. He's forgotten how to ask me a question that doesn't put me on the defensive. All those sessions with the marriage counselor—for some of which he played sick, or was too busy drilling or hammering—aren't saving us. I'm tired of this war, which is why I'm ready to hold up a white flag. "Aren't you supposed to be picking up somebody?"
"So now you're trying to get rid of me, is that it?"
"Yes. How's that for an honest answer?" I feel my body stiffen, using the truth to lie. "Have a good time, Isaac. Wait a second! Did you remember to make the loan payment?" I only ask because he seems to have had a little bout of amnesia off and on the past six or seven months. It's the cause of brand-new friction. I have no idea what he's been doing with his money. It's not gambling, that much I do know. He stays away from the Indian casinos and usually dreads these conventions when they're in Vegas. He thinks gambling is too much of a gamble because most people lose. That's not really it. Isaac is just too cheap.
"Yes, I made it. As a matter of fact, I paid two."
"Thank you. And have a good time," I say, without moving my fingers, which are frozen two or three inches above the keys. I cosigned for this loan to help him start his business. After it took off, he took over the payments. Unfortunately, I've discovered by default that Isaac isn't as proficient managing his finances as he is at building. To this day he refuses to hire a bookkeeper, which is one of the reasons his taxes are always late.
"Good luck on your research," he says, and heads for the garage. He is so disingenuous. He hardly ever watches my shows anymore. For years he pretended he was interested, but over time he couldn't fake it anymore. He thinks my stories show problems that can't be solved, so what's the point?
I finally hear the door shut. I turn around and stare at it. It's red. My bright idea. I'm hoping to hear the garage door go up. There it is. Then the engine roars in his truck. Instead of turning my attention back to the screen, I wait for the handle to turn. Sure enough, in he comes.
"I forgot my cell phone." He dashes down the hallway to our bedroom. To this day Isaac reminds me of a black Paul Bunyan, except he's finally getting a few strands of gray. His mustache and goatee look like they've been sprayed with silver dust. He's still sexy as hell, which is a shame, because it doesn't seem to be serving any purpose. I shouldn't dog him too much. Isaac is a good man. I just think marrying each other wasn't the best thing we could've done for each other.
He stops dead in his tracks, pivots, comes over and kisses me in the exact same spot. This time he lets his lips stay a millisecond longer. I appreciate the gesture. "I'll call when I get checked in."
I make myself some French toast, put a few strips of bacon in the microwave and sit back in front of my laptop. My mind isn't on teen pregnancy, so I bookmark the sites I may want to look at later. I'm thinking about the man who just left. The one I once loved harder than any of the others.
I was a forty-year-old love-starved black woman who'd never been married and didn't think it was still possible. I met Isaac in church. He was tall, dark and handsome. (Aren't they always?) I was sitting near the front and found myself going deaf as the minister delivered yet another guilt-laced sermon about the evils of temptation, because I was slowly being hypnotized by Isaac Hathaway's soft black eyes up there in the third row of the choir. This was a small church. It was as if he'd appeared out of nowhere. I certainly would've noticed him before. Not that I went to church every Sunday. And not that I didn't have faith in God. I did, and still do. I'd been on a whole lot of folks' prayer lists and God had known for years my address was still 111 Unlucky-in-Love Avenue. On this particular Sunday, this man followed me down those church steps to the parking lot and seduced me with my clothes on after he smiled at me, introduced himself and in a slow baritone said, "You are absolutely beautiful." I blushed brick red because he was lying through his teeth. I was not then, nor am I now, even remotely close to beautiful.
Now, I've been known to be attractive on special occasions, and I do my best to project as much beauty as I can muster from deep inside, though I often fail. On this particular day, I was wearing a boring brown dress I thought was perfect for church since it's not a venue for which I dress to draw attention to myself. Back then, I hadn't gotten into the habit of exercising on a regular basis, and my dress didn't conceal enough of my curves for my taste, so Isaac couldn't possibly have been moved by my breasts since they were and still are close to nonexistent. The pearls were noticeably fake, which should've given him a clue I wasn't loaded, although I made out okay. Besides, who under fifty wears real pearls to church?
I never did hear him sing solo. I would later think God had saved the best for last. Any woman in my position would've felt the same way and probably done the same thing: parachuted into his arms. Or was it his bed, first? Who can remember? Who cares? He was intoxicating, and any fool would've wanted more of him. All I know is he made me feel brand new. Lit a fire in me that burned bright orange. His smile reduced me to mashed potatoes. I loved that he held my hand wherever we went and stroked my palm with his thumb.
We prayed together. A few months later, he moved into my house. I knew I'd gotten lucky, because I'd found a man who wasn't afraid to admit his faith in God and also came with his own tool belt. Nothing stayed broken for long. Isaac had magical hands. He would shampoo and condition my hair, brush it at night and oil my scalp. He massaged my feet while I read and he watched television. He put lavender and ylang-ylang oil in my bathwater and let me lean way back. I could've lived forever in his arms. He made me feel safe, necessary, to the point I started believing I was beautiful. For years, he kissed me twice a day. Every single day. And not a peck, like that bullshit he gave me today, but a warm, slow, succulent kiss complete with arms I dreamed about when I was alone in a hotel bed on a business trip. Isaac is the best kisser in the world. And to date, the best lover I've ever had in my life. He was my Mr. Wonderful. I thought he was going to be my Mr. Once-and-for-All.
There was no escaping the hold he had on me or the spell he'd put on me. After a year of complete bliss, I surrendered and said of course I'll be your wife. When he lost his job putting up the fence along the Arizona-Mexico border because the company had gotten busted for hiring illegals, I wasn't worried. He was only twenty-six units shy of getting his degree in engineering.
Unfortunately, my world started shrinking not long after I married Mr. Wonderful. Since I didn't have kids, I was used to doing what I wanted and going where I wanted. I ate out at least two or three times a week. Enjoyed going to plays and live concerts and dance performances. Loved foreign films. Didn't mind the subtitles. In fact, I used to go to the movies at least once a week except in August, when the slashers came out. I loved reading in bed. Unfortunately, Isaac couldn't fall asleep without the television blaring. Turns out he wasn't keen on eating in restaurants except Denny's and The Olive Garden. I never saw him open a book but he couldn't get enough of Outdoor Projects or Dream Decks & Patios or Wood Magazine. He didn't like taking bona fide vacations because it was a waste of good money. He was also afraid of flying, which meant everywhere we went had to be by car. We rented movies, except during holidays. Isaac also liked fish, so once a month we went to the aquarium. Yahoo.
Last August, I flew to Chicago for the Democratic National Convention and was able to hear the young senator Barack Obama give a speech that sounded like it might go down in history. Flying wasn't the only reason Isaac didn't want to go. Right before the 2004 primaries, I inadvertently opened his absentee ballot. He had the nerve to be registered as a fucking Republican! I couldn't believe my eyes. I don't know any black Republicans. I was not only offended, but confused. I felt like I was married to a Nazi or something.
"Of course you have the right to align yourself with whatever party you so choose," I said when I confronted him. "But what on earth would possess you to support the Republican party, Isaac?"
This was Mr. Millionaire's answer: "Because they make sure we get the best tax break."
I left his ass standing in the bathroom dripping wet, since he was waiting for me to bring him a towel. So it was his dumbass vote that helped reelect that dumbass George Bush. Twice. I wondered who in the world I was really married to. It worried me.
I can't lie, I spent a lot of energy trying to give Isaac as much love as I possibly could as often as I could for as long as I could. Right after he lost his job, I tried to make him feel valued. I asked him to share his dreams with me. I listened. He changed his mind about getting his degree in engineering, opting instead for a construction management program. I paid his tuition. When he talked about all the things he wanted to build one day, I shared his enthusiasm. I also slowed down, said no to some travel. The Olympics in Australia was the biggest. I cooked almost every day. Washed and folded his work clothes. Took pills for car sickness. Everywhere we drove: "You see that sagging fence right there? That's a sign of a rookie." Watching the History Channel and This Old House was like foreplay. And wrestling: like witnessing phony cavemen perform acrobatics. I went to football games, which I didn't like because it was violent and took too long to make a fucking touchdown. I went camping and fishing but I didn't like getting dirty and putting stinky things on the end of a pole, and grabbing a wiggling fish that was headed for a hot skillet gave me the heebie-jeebies. Did I complain? No, I did not. I tried to do what made my husband happy.
Over the years, Isaac stopped showing interest in what I felt or what I did. I had to bribe him to go to or do anything that didn't have an outcome. Whenever I wanted to talk about my stories, he always seemed to have the remote in his hand. I'm tired of not feeling respected. Since he's become a successful entrepreneur, Isaac's arrogance has pierced right through his beauty, which is why I don't like him.
Make no mistake, I still love Isaac. I haven't been in love with him for quite some time. It's not an easy thing to admit. I'm not one of those women who feels I need a man to complete me. I also don't think there's just one person in the world meant for you. Sometimes you luck up and sometimes your luck runs out. I'm beginning to wonder if a good marriage is even possible. What I do know is I'm tired of feeling navy blue when I have a right to feel lemon yellow.
Ever since I turned fifty I've become more aware of the passage of time and what I'm doing with it. If I dropped dead today, what legacy would I leave? Would I have done a lot of the things I wanted to do? Seen some of the places I wanted to see? And would I—if I took a few minutes to think about it—feel as if the time I was blessed with was well spent or had I just bullshitted my way through it?
Even though I have an interesting job, it still feels like I should be doing more. All I ever wanted was to do something with my life that would have a positive impact on other people. To do something to make us look in the mirror or slow down long enough to see what our behavior really says about us. Mostly about our inhumanity, since it leaves red marks. I believe the only way to evaluate how we're living is how we're not living.
This is why I'm on a mission to start doing things that make me feel good. I've made a vow to start eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis because I know better. I'm twenty-five pounds away from being fat. I don't want to have to start buying all my clothes in Encore at Nordstrom's. My goal is to be fit at fifty-two and sixty-two and seventy-two. I want to feel better than I look. I'm not trying to be a middle-aged centerfold, I just want to look at myself naked and not be disgusted. It may sound naïve, but I always thought as you got older the quality of your life would improve, that things would be smoother, calmer, and you could finally exhale.
I'd probably be in the nuthouse if it weren't for my girlfriends: Bernadine, Robin and Gloria. Fifteen years ago, we thought we were hot shit. I was thirty-six and had just moved here from Denver, where I'd been a publicist for the gas company. Thrill thrill. Bernadine and her then husband, John, talked me into moving here after a visit, when a position in PR opened up at a local television station. The three of us went to Boston University together. I was her bridesmaid. She worked in finance for a real estate developer, had become a C.P.A. She introduced me to Gloria, a single parent who had her own hair salon. And Robin: Miss Congeniality. She worked in an executive capacity at an insurance company but was still on the verge of becoming a slut. She was and still is a hoot.
After years of our being casualties of love, Gloria is the only one who's happily married. Times have certainly changed. We're all busy. We don't hang out like we used to, don't run our mouths on the phone half the night the way we used to, don't gossip about each other the way we used to. We send e-mail or text. Who can be bothered reaching out all day long like teenagers? Forget about happy hour. (Do they still have them?) We haven't been drunk since 1999. Haven't set foot in a nightclub since Rick James had his last hit. We dance at home. Apparently, we're too damn old to have fun in public places.
I don't know why we stopped being social creatures, but it's why Gloria came up with the idea of having Blockbuster Night. Once a month we kick up our heels at one of our houses. It's something to do. Bernadine cooks, since she's our black Julia Child. We make our husbands and children disappear. We don't care where they go, as long as they're gone for at least four hours.
I finally get out of my pajamas and take a cool shower. I put on a pair of purple running pants and a pink sweatshirt and grab a bottle of cold water from the fridge. I go back to my laptop and start looking at some of the sites I'd bookmarked. I hit enter. The screen turns cobalt blue, then goes completely black. I lean back in the chair thinking the battery must be dead, but I always plug the laptop in when I'm at home, and when I look under the counter, it is. I power off and wait for it to reboot. I don't hear that low blender sound. I don't hear anything. I hit the power button again, this time praying I'm not a victim of one of those apocalyptic viruses. I've got tons of irreplaceable information inside the soul of this computer. Nothing I do resuscitates it. I'm glad I have a backup disc at work.
I walk down the hall to Isaac's office. The tiles are cold on my bare feet. It amazes me how neat he keeps it in here. There's a picture on one wall of giant redwood trees in Muir Woods in northern California. On another, a bulletin board with photos of his recent projects. I sit at his desk, a beautiful maple-colored door turned tabletop. I click on the browser and type in the last site I visited and hit enter. My site isn't what comes up. My heart is pounding as I see before my eyes a screen full of color photographs and video clips of women giving men blowjobs and three and four of them piled on top of one man and some pleasing each other. I know this is a porn site, but I didn't make a mistake when I typed. I close it and retype the same address. I don't believe it when I see these same nasty people again! I do this a few more times, get the same results.
I call my godson, who also happens to be my pretend nephew, John Jr., who also happens to be Bernadine's son who goes to MIT. He's a computer geek. I explain to him what just happened to my laptop and now this. "Sounds like Uncle's browser's been hijacked. Porn sites are notorious for doing this."
"How do you know that?"
"It's kinda the norm."
"But what could've caused it?"
"Well, it could be a virus, although I doubt that. I think Uncle's been very busy checking out these sites."
"How would I know that?"
Over the next fifteen or twenty minutes he talks me through a process that gives me access to temporary files which make it quite clear my husband has been having cybersex with hundreds if not thousands of women and the son-of-a-bitch has two names. He's Isaac Hathaway to me. But EbonyKing to all these nasty bitches he's been jerking off with and having virtual sex with via the little webcam attachment I gave him last Christmas. I've watched porn with Isaac and before I met him, but what I'm looking at takes it to a whole new level.
My teeth feel cold. My fists ball up on their own. I yank open a file drawer and start rummaging through his credit card statements only to discover he's a fucking Gold Card member. Not just on one site, but on quite a few others. To the tune of a few grand a month. I sit here for the longest, more pissed off than hurt, more disgusted than anything, trying to figure out how long he's been doing this shit. It's cheating, any way you look at it, except this feels much worse. It's sneaky as hell. I wonder how Isaac would feel if he saw me masturbating in front of a webcam for men, or hell, how about other women? So this is what he's been doing in here while I was sitting up in bed engrossed in a good book.
I print out the home pages of twenty or thirty of these sites and Scotch-tape them on the walls of this freakazoid den Isaac's been fronting as his home office. Without thinking about what I'm doing, I crawl under the desk, yank the plug out of the socket, carry the computer like a corpse through the great room, outside, right across this beautiful redwood deck he built, down the four steps and over to the pool, where I drop it into the deep end. This does not make me feel better.
I dry off where I got splashed and sit on the edge of the bed for almost an hour. When the phone rings, I answer it like someone who's just come out of surgery.
"Savannah?" I hear Sheila say. She's my baby sister. My only sister. I have two brothers. "Hey," I say to Sheila in a cracked voice.
"Girl, what in the world is wrong with you? Did somebody die?"
"No. I just found out Isaac's been visiting a bunch of porn sites for the longest and I'm a little pissed off."
"I hope this isn't all you're tripping about?"
"If you saw the shit he's been doing and how much money he's been spending, I think you'd be a little more than pissed, too."
"Girl, all men spend money on porn sites. I'm grateful for 'em, if you want to know the truth. Saves me a lot of unnecessary energy. As soon as Paul thinks I'm asleep, I hear him tiptoeing down to the basement. I could care less."
"I'm filing for divorce."
"Not over this bullshit, Savannah. Come on."
"No. This is the cherry."
"Where is Isaac? You didn't throw him out, did you?"
"He's at a trade convention in Vegas."
"Don't do anything stupid, Savannah."
"You didn't bust up his computer, did you?"
"Is it still intact?"
"Yes, it is."
"This silly shit shouldn't even qualify as grounds for divorce. The judge would probably laugh at you in court."
"I'm also miserable."
"Most married people are miserable but that's still no reason to get a divorce."
"I beg to differ with you, Sheila. Just because you and Paul have been living in marriage hell for twenty-something years doesn't mean everybody can tolerate it."
"I love Paul and he loves me. We've had our share of problems but everybody does."
"Well, I can't live like this anymore."
"Isaac isn't just a freak, he's also boring as hell."
"Paul is, too. Being boring is also not grounds for divorce. And hanging out—no pun intended—on porn sites doesn't make him a freak."
"I'm bored, Sheila."
"Have you ever wondered if maybe you're the one who's boring? Look at all the great stuff he builds. Paul can barely snap Lego pieces together for our grandkids."
"Do you think I'm boring?"
"Hell, I don't know. I don't live with you and I don't know what you're like in bed—hee-hee…"
"Fuck you, Sheila."
"This is an issue in your house, baby cakes, not mine. I thank God for Viagra twice a month. And stop being such a prima donna, Savannah. It took more than half your life to find a man to marry, and Isaac is a good one. I know a lot of women who would love to have a husband like him."
"Then one can have him."
"I would cool my jets if I were in your shoes. You ain't exactly Beyoncé—no offense."
"I know how old I am."
"It's hard out there, Savannah. If you go through with this without really thinking about how you can save your marriage, you'll probably end up regretting it."
"Did I ever tell you he voted for George Bush?"
"I know you have got to be lying."
"He's a fucking registered Republican!"
"Tell me this is a joke, right?"
"No, I'm dead serious."
"Now, this is grounds for divorce! I could not fuck a Republican let alone be married to one. He needs help."
I hear a click on the phone. "Oh Lord. Sheila, it's Mama calling me on the other line. Don't hang up."
I click her on. "Hi, Mama. How you doing? Is everything okay?"
"Everything is fine, but I had to call to tell you I had the weirdest dream last night about you and Isaac."
"I'm talking to Sheila right now. Can I call you back in a few minutes?"
"I'm on my way to see that Michael Jackson movie. Finding Neverland. You heard of it?"
"Yes, Mama, I have." I didn't feel like telling her it was a British movie with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet and Michael isn't in it.
"Anyway, I'm going with Sheila and those little bad-ass grandkids, so tell her to make sure they go to the bathroom first and don't be late picking me up."
"I will, Mama."
"How is Isaac?"
"He's fine. Why would you ask?"
"Because in my dream, you all were getting a divorce over something stupid but the dream didn't give me no hints. You two doing all right?"
"We're good, Mama. Let me get back to Sheila so she can get over there on time. Love you. Talk to you later."
"What did she want?" Sheila asks. "I'm supposed to be walking out the door in a few minutes. The kids think this movie is about Michael Jackson's ranch, and I'm not telling them any different! Anyway, you were saying…"
"I was saying I know how hard it is out here. It was hard fifteen years ago. I'm not letting this stop me from living my life."
"Oh, please. You're half-a-damn-century old, Savannah, okay? You've had all the time in the world to live your damn life. Well, guess what? This is your life, and it's not a bad one. You're just never satisfied. That's always been your problem. Enough is never good enough for you. Go ahead and say it."
"Fuck you, Sheila."
"I wasn't going to say that. Go to hell, Sheila."
"And I love you, too. Can we change the subject real quick and then talk about your marriage or divorce tomorrow?"
"I don't have anything else to say about it."
"You know I've been having problems with GoGo, don't you?"
"How would I know that? What kind of problems?"
"First, let me say this: Mama's got a big mouth and you know if you want to keep your business to yourself, don't even think about telling her."
"As if I don't know this."
"And please don't tell her about this, okay?"
"Tell her about what, Sheila? Get to the damn point would you? You know Mama's sitting in front of her window staring at the curb."
"I'm on my cell phone. To make a long story short. Hold on a minute. I'M COMING! GO GET IN THE CAR! WAIT! AFRICA, TAKE THE LITTLE ONES TO GO MAKE PEE-PEE FIRST. Anyway, you know GoGo just turned eighteen even though he's in the eleventh grade, but you remember when I had to hold him back in kindergarten because he lacked social skills, right?"
"No, I don't, Sheila." The truth is I don't know which one GoGo is. I thought he was a she. Sheila and Paul have five or six kids. I can't remember. I dare not ask what GoGo's real name is.
"Anyway, he's been hanging around with the wrong crowd here and he got suspended for smoking weed, and I think he might be selling it or his girlfriend might be selling it, but I was kind of hoping maybe if he could come out there and spend a couple or three weeks, or part of the summer, with you and Isaac—but since Isaac may or may not be in the picture, maybe just with you. GoGo could be a big help around the house and keep you company. What do you think?"
I love my sister to death but she always puts me on the spot like this. If I said no, she'd be pissed or disappointed. I'm not in any position to be thinking about having my nephew whom I don't even know, who also happens to be a pothead, coming for a summer stint. I don't know how to talk to kids, let alone teenagers. "Let me deal with my marriage issue first, Sheila, and then let me think about if and when it might be a good time for GoGo to come out."
"That's cool. Have you ever thought about counseling?"
"We tried it. Counseling only works if both people want to save their marriage. I don't."
"Just don't do anything stupid when he gets home. Cut the man a little slack, Savannah. Could you try to do that?"
"I'll try," I say. "And could you please try to keep your big mouth shut?"
"I'm the Ziploc queen. Love you, Sis."
Before I can put the phone in the cradle, it rings in my hand. It's Isaac. "You made it."
"I did and I'm beat. Traffic was bumper to bumper for almost two hours. That's why I'm just getting around to calling. Is everything going all right?"
"My laptop crashed."
"For real? I'm sorry to hear that."
"Would you mind if I used yours?"
"I think I might have a virus. Didn't I tell you?"
"No, you didn't. Why would you think that?"
"Every time I try to visit any website, it keeps taking me to these porn sites."
"Why would you think it's a virus that's causing it?"
"What else would make it do this?" he asks. "I wouldn't chance it."
"Then I won't bother."
"You do have a backup disc at work, don't you?"
"Thank God. What about you, Isaac. Do you have one?"
"No, I don't."
"You should," I say. "You just never know when you might need it."
Meet the Author
Terry McMillan is the critically acclaimed author of six novels. She is also the editor of BREAKING ICE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN-AMERICAN FICTION. She lives in northern Californiawith her family
- Danville, California
- Date of Birth:
- October 18, 1951
- Place of Birth:
- Port Huron, Michigan
- B.S. in journalism, UC-Berkeley, 1979; M.F.A. in film, Columbia University, 1980
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria and Robin are back after 15 or 16 years to bring us up to date with their lives. After 15 years or so, you'd think these four women has found some happiness and piece, but sadly things started off for them all wrong. Savannah finally has a husband, but he's kicked to the curb. Bernadine met the perfect man name James, so we thought. Gloria is blissfully happy, but that is instantly taken from under her feet and Robin, my goodness is a single mother with a teenage daughter that is acting like she is the mother. When I received Getting To Happy, I couldn't wait to read it. I was so anxious, just to see what transpired for four of my favorite characters from Waiting To Exhale. I must truly admit I was disappointed. I had such high expectations for this book and by the time I got to maybe the fifth or sixth chapter I was ready to put it down. I was honestly wondering how after 15 or 16 years these women were still experiencing such an amount of pain and agony. As I read on I kept expecting something more, something great, but I didn't get it. By the time I was done, I had this what the hell did I miss feeling, because almost everyone in the book, including the now adult children had something going on that was not quite right. Getting To Happy, is more like Getting To Sad. I am very disappointed, maybe because I had such a high level of expectations for this novel. I honestly will say that after 15 years, four intelligent women like Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria and Robin should have been better than they were in Waiting To Exhale. It was like getting bad news every other day in this novel. For me, this book was a true let down. I wanted to feel as half as good as I felt reading some of Terry's early books, but I didn't. Anna Black AAMBC Book Reviewer
This is the first full ebook I read on my nook. This book was one of the best I have read. These women show why it is important to have your best girlfriends to pick you up when youre down. No matter what was going on their personal lives these four friends always have one anothers support. It tells you what true friendships mean. Anyone who reads this book you will not be dissapointed by no means. I have read other books by Terry McMillan and this book really sticks out.
Kee -- I am an avid reader and I thoroughly enjoyed this read. However, you will have to read 'Exhale' first and probably refer back to it a few times. I was surprised a few times, which made the read very interesting. I would recommend this book......and I am not a huge fan of Terry's. Really enjoyed it.
Four best friends were originally featured in McMillan's "Waiting to Exhale" return in this new novel. They have new highs and lows, joys and disappointments, and we meet many new family members along the way. Another reviewer felt the book had too many lows, but I found the book to be sweet, sad, and funny all at the same time--just like real life. I dont want to give away any spoilers so I will keep this short. If you liked Waiting to Exhale, you will like Getting to Happy.
'Getting to Happy' was captivating from the beginning. The ongoing drama demands undivided attention until the story's completion. It is therapeutic, in the sense that the complexities of the characters and their lives are relatable to all on various levels. Their journey to 'happy' offers hope to the hopeless and a lifeline to the drowning. And yet, for those in a current state of 'happy', the story provides numerous reasons to be appreciative. The overall tone presents the understanding that throughout the journey of life, despite the emotional state, every moment is a blessing and opportunity to 'Get to Happy' . The choice is yours.
It's been 15-years, through parenting, divorces, death, addictions, bitterness, and loneliness, the fantastic four are still moving and shaking. Now in their 50's, Savannah, Robin, Gloria and Bernadine have all realized that something needs to change, something is missing and it's imperative that they do whatever is needed to regain it. While opposites may attract, Savannah can no longer deny it, she is unhappily married. It's not that Isaac, her husband of 10-years, is a bad guy. He's just not the man she wants to spend any more of her tomorrows with. Is she willing to let go in order to get back to her own happiness? Robin loves being a mom. Sparrow is an awesome child, and one of her closest friends. However, Robin has seen all of her friends married and she's wondering when her turn is coming. Willing to try anything, Robin tries internet dating. Can this finally be her path to happiness? Gloria's life has been ideal. Married 14-years to the man of her dreams, her business is thriving and Tarik, her son, is married and a father. In one quick blink, Gloria's life is forever changed. Is happy forever off the table for her? Poor Bernadine has had it the hardest. Married, cheated on and divorced. Only to repeat the cycle more viciously the second time. This time, bitterness has made Bernadine hollow on the inside. She's barely living as she pops pills in hope of coping. Will she ever experience happiness again? I liked GETTING TO HAPPY. I loved how the characters invited you back into their world. In their 50's, they showed readers that life was still worth living. While it wasn't as explosive as WAITING TO EXHALE, I believe that it was the right formula for learning to breathe again. Thank God for girlfriends!
I have the audio version of the book. Despite the poor reviews I read, I decided to buy the book any way. I should have listened to those who panned the book. I don't know if it's because Terry is the narrator of the book or what, but I'm finding the book tedious to listen to and the writing not up to what I expected from Terry. I actually look at the reviews again to see if she co-wrote the book with someone else, like her sister, Rosyln, who I don't feel is a good writer at all. Without giving anything away, I also am beginning to understand those who say her books bash men. Sadly, after my disappointment in her last book and in this one, I probably won't purchase another of her books. I suspect her personal life has affected her writing.
It took me a while to get into this book. At first it appeared that Ms. Mcmillian was not going to give anyone a happy relationship. (I thought at first that this book was a reflection of her own personal life) I plowed through, then I got to the point where I couldn't put the book down. When I got to the book's end, I was clamoring for more. I was reeled in. I would recommend this book to others.
I have read and enjoyed Terry McMillan books however "Getting to Happy" did not match the Hype. Loved hearing about the Ladies after ten years but I felt this book was weak and was very disappointed.
If you enjoyed Waiting To Exhale you are going to love Getting To Happy. It should inspire all of us to get to our happy. Giess what we don't know when it is too late. Really enjoyed this conclusion, did't want it to end. Thank You zTerri
I bought this book when it first came out practically...I am very disappointed, they exhaled then went back for more problems...it seems. They were happy and they didnt get back to happy, it was sad and i think Terry should have waited on this or not revisited this novel because it is sad. I dont know if it is because of what she went through or not but it took me until now to finish this book. I am a big reader this is so boring and sad and dry???
Not what i expected. Terry did not put her best in this book.
So many emotions in this book. I would have loved for Gloria's husband to have enjoyed the boat a lil before his passing. Bernie & John to get closer than they did. Savannah's marriage to work out. Robin's story happened just the way it should have. They should end the movie with her wedding, not @ the benefit.
This book was disappointing to say the least. Very predictable storyline, every character is boring. And the ending was uneventful. The only book i enjoyed from Ms. Mcmillan was her first book called Mama. I wish she could return back to that writing style. I believe she is so bitter from her lifestyle experiences that it reflects her acrimony in her books. Stay away from this one. Unless you loved to be bored to death by four depressed cougars trying to find a man.
This is a book that I would recommend for a book club discussion. I have read several McMillan books and was glad that she decided to write a follow up of our four favorite friends. I was glad and sad to see some of the things that had taken place with our girls, but this is life. This was a nice read but I was disappointed because I wanted more. I was left wanting more of the ladies lives and outcomes, but it was indeed a page turner.
so as life goes and as you grow you learn more and more about yourself. so goes this contiuation for Waiting to Exhale. If you are looking for a toalt happy ending life is not like that. I really enjoyed reading this book and picking up the characters 15 years later. I could actually hear the charaters from the movie as I read. Savahna is just as she was before as ll the characters were. I enjoyed this book a reccomend it to my friends it is worth it to pick it up.
I really enjoyed this book. It touched all emotions. Some parts were so hilarious that I laughed out loud. It's a fast read with an ending that will make you say aaahhh. It really shows how important friendship and family support can produce positive solutions. It show that great friends and family can get through anything. This book is great to read alone or with book club with your friends. I recommend that you read "Waiting to Exhale" also and prior to this book if you can.
Truly a great continuance to Waiting to Exhale examining their lives 15 years later and true life long friendships. Terry you out did yourself this time. Loved it! Recommend reading all of her books.
Terry did an excellent job with the follow up of her characters. I'm so glad that I read this book. I laughed, cried, even found it to be a bit theraputic. All I'm saying is, if you enjoy a good drama, comedy and suspense novel, this one is all that. In my opinion well worth the wait. Thanks Ms Terry. And I'm so glad you've finally got to "Happy"! God's continued blessings! Love, Evette Major PS, I would love to have my copy autographed.
This book was awesome and full of unexpected surprises!!!!! Can't wait for the next one. Glad to see Terry back on the scene.
Another good book by Terry McMillan
I wish I could get my money back what a waste