Waiting to Exhale

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From the critically acclaimed author of A Day Late and a Dollar Short and The Interruption of Everything, a wise, earthy story of a friendship between four African American women who lean on each other while "waiting to exhale": waiting for that man who will take their breath away.

From the critically acclaimed author of Mama and Disappearing Acts, a wise, earthy story of a friendship between four African American women who lean on each other while ...

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Waiting to Exhale

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Overview

From the critically acclaimed author of A Day Late and a Dollar Short and The Interruption of Everything, a wise, earthy story of a friendship between four African American women who lean on each other while "waiting to exhale": waiting for that man who will take their breath away.

From the critically acclaimed author of Mama and Disappearing Acts, a wise, earthy story of a friendship between four African American women who lean on each other while "waiting to exhale": waiting for that man who will take their breath away.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McMillan's zesty novel tells the stories of four 30ish black women bound together by warm, supportive friendship and by their dwindling hopes of finding Mr. Right. Pocket paid a whopping $2.64 million for Exhale , which was a 29-week PW bestseller in hardcover.
Library Journal
Like McMillan's previous novels, Disappearing Acts ( LJ 7/89) and Mama ( LJ 1/87), her new effort features a predictable plot, prose that often falls flat, and a narrative that lacks depth.

Four African American women living in Phoenix devote most of their energies to searching for the one good black man who will make their dreams of the perfect partner and lover come true. Unsurprisingly, Savannah, Bernie, Gloria, and Robin all kiss several toads, but their trials and errors never arouse much interest. Far stronger is the author's sharp, often humorous depiction of the strong bonds among the four friends, their relationships with their families, and their community activities; readers will regret that McMillan did not develop these areas further.
-- Faye A. Chadwell, University of South Carolina Library, Columbia

School Library Journal
Savannah, Gloria, Robin, and Bernadine are black, 30-something, and all waiting for the right man to come along. What sustains them during their successes and disappointments is their tight bond of friendship. McMillan fully develops her characters with an incisive ear for dialogue; this brings readers close enough to laugh with, scream at, ache for, and care deeply about each woman. Robin and Savannah narrate in the first person; Gloria and Bernadine's stories are told in the third person. While alternating chapters relate each person's story, the transitions in voice are smooth. The writing style is deceptively easy and highly readable, but the language and sexual frankness are more suitable for mature young adults. In addition to spinning a good story, the book illustrates how people sharing and being supportive of one another create a survival network in a tough modern world. Funny and poignant.
-- Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Sacred Fire
Terry McMillan, in her way, has been among the most influential African American writers of the past twenty years. Her novels are accessible, realistic, and often hilarious accounts of the exotic rituals of modern, urban African American men and women looking for love and happiness—a theme not commonly found in African American fiction before her successful second novel, Disappearing Acts.

In Waiting to Exhale, her blockbuster best-selling third novel, four vibrant professional women console and support one another in a nurturing friendship that helps each of them deal with troubled relationships with men. Waiting to Exhale demonstrates that no matter how hard we search, sometimes Mr. Right just doesn't show up, but that life goes on without him.

Even as the book was dismissed by some critics as popular fluff or anti-male, millions of readers of all colors identified with the struggles and the enduring sisterhood of Robin, Savannah, Bernadine, and Gloria. Waiting to Exhale became a publishing sensation, proving for once and for all that there is a substantial audience of readers for popular, well-written African American novels. The book also became a successful movie starring Whitney Houston and inspired a flurry of knock-off books of lesser quality.

Deirdre Donahue
Captures what life and love are all about today…
—Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
Kirkus Reviews
Talk about timing! With relations between African-American men and women in the spotlight as never before, here comes McMillan's report from the front: her bawdy, vibrant, deliciously readable third novel (Mama, Disappearing Acts) is the story of four black women friends and their frequently disastrous encounters with black men.

The four are in their mid-to-late 30s, middle-class women making good money, and they live in Phoenix. Savannah, who has everything she wants except a man, has just moved from Denver, partly to be close to best friend Bernadine, whose 11-year-old marriage has collapsed. Super-successful "buppie" (black yuppie) John has tricked Bernadine every which way, but his greatest betrayal is crossing the color line to snare a California blond; now Bernadine must raise their two kids alone. Her friends Robin and Gloria are not having any better luck: Robin is a backsliding bubblehead whose study of astrology has not cured her weakness for "pretty men with big dicks" who use and abuse her, while the only male in overweight, matronly Gloria's life is her teenage son Tarik, a source of both anxiety and pride. We watch these women in a swirl of motion: working, partying, dishing, dating, and consoling each other on their misfortunes with men. Their consensus is that "black men play too many games" and are terrified of making commitments, even if they're buppies ("riffraff comes in all kinds of packages"). Two points here: First, McMillan's novel is not indiscriminately bashing brothers—there are good men out there (both Bernadine and Gloria have fine prospects by the end), and women cannot escape all the blame (Savannah's inability to say the three magic words costs her dearly). Second, these women do not mope. The story's best scene has them falling-down drunk at Gloria's hilarious birthday party; indeed, they are as timeless as Molly Bloom or the Wife of Bath in their robust sensuality.

A novel that hits so many exposed nerves is sure to be a conversation-piece: it has heart and pizzazz and even, yes, the sweet smell of the breakthrough book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451217455
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/3/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of five previous novels and recipient of the Essence Award for Excellence in Literature.

Biography

Terry McMillan's previous novels include Mama (1987), (1989), and the New York Times bestsellers Waiting to Exhale (1992) and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1996), both of which were awarded the NAACP/Black Image Award for Best Novel, and A Day Late and a Dollar Short (2001). McMillan's influential anthology of contemporary African American fiction, Breaking Ice, was published in 1990. Waiting to Exhale was made into a motion picture in 1995, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back came to the screen in 1998; in December of 2000, HBO released a film version of Disappearing Acts. Terry McMillan is the recipient of the 2002 Essence Award for Excellence in Literature. Her forthcoming novel is titled The Interruption of Everything. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Hometown:
      Danville, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 18, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Port Huron, Michigan
    1. Education:
      B.S. in journalism, UC-Berkeley, 1979; M.F.A. in film, Columbia University, 1980

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Amazing

    I remember being a kid and reading this book just because i saw the movie. But now that im older and have read it again i see it in a whole new light. Many of these stories are true and i have witnessed them. Just an amazing story to show how we as women take crap we shouldnt and how not ALL men are dogs and scum. Which is absolutely true. And we all need those special whom we can lean on and share the good as well as the bad with. Excellent story, i love terry mcmillan

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 18, 2011

    Just like the movie

    I just love this book. It waas just like the movie. I will read this book again one day.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2009

    My Blog About Waiting to Exhale!

    I thought this was a very interesting book. The only thing I didn't care for was the way men got away with the things they did. I love the fact that these women were liberated and didn't take any mess from these guys. If I had to read it again I would, no questions asked.

    La Chandra Mathews

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    <3

    <3 <3 <3

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  • Posted November 26, 2008

    women but different types of women

    i disgree with this novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    Terry is awesome writer

    This book is a classic ...I laughed, cried and shouted

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2004

    A Must Read for Those Who Haven't

    This book is excellent. It is realistic fiction and talks about some of the problems that many African-American women deal with. Although it is fiction, you are put right into the middle of the story and it makes you feel as though you are going through the different issues right along with Bernadine, Robin, Savannah, and Gloria. If you think the movie was good, you haven't seen anything yet. I would highly recommend it to all those who are looking for a book that is so good, you can't put it down. Take an adventure you will never forget as you journey through the arid state of Arizona. You will see just what I mean.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2002

    Great Book

    This was a terrific book. The title speaks for itself. The four black women all had a problem that they were dealing with and when they solved their problems they all exhaled. They all had a very good freindship between each other as well. I really enjoyed reading this book. In fact I have read it several times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2001

    The best book for Sistas

    I absolutely loved every word of every chapter I read in this book. This is one of the rare books that grabs you and holds on tight.It has a very unique way of expressing the things that all women go through everyday. And it also has created a very special circle of friends that have a very strong friendship and love for each other. Savannah, Robin, Gloria, and Bernadine all are of different ages, but go through the same experiences in a way. They all learn from each other and they're always there for each other. I could also relate to all the strong language it used (not that it was very good language). But overall, it was a very good book. I'd recommend this book to women who are having various problems with finding 'Mr. Right', but this book would be a delight to all girls and women who have a strong belief in sisterhood.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2000

    TRUE FRIENDSHIP

    THIS BOOK REALLY SHOWS TRUE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN, IT SHOWS THAT THEY HAVE A BOND OF SISTERHOOD. TERRY I LOVE YOU,YOU ARE SUCH AN AMAZING WRITER, I HAVE READ ALL OF YOUR BOOKS, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO READING MANY MORE IN THE FUTURE, KEEP STRIVING TO BE THE BEST, YOU DESERVE IT.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2000

    A grabbing tale

    I think Waiting to Exhale is one of Terry McMillan's best novels, if not the best. I enjoyed it a lot because it's very real and the characters are all strong black women. I could not put this book down and it was way better than the movie. I highly recommend it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 4, 2012

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    Posted September 21, 2010

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    Posted January 21, 2009

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    Posted November 29, 2008

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    Posted April 23, 2014

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    Posted July 19, 2010

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    Posted September 14, 2012

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    Posted November 27, 2009

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    Posted September 23, 2010

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