Monday, November 15, 2010

#BookReview: Getting to Happy - Terry McMillan

There's a line in Nonchalant's song 5 O'clock where she says, "If you had a good day, damn, I must have missed it."  That line bounced around my head the whole time I listened to Getting to Happy.  At one point I made a comment on Twitter that I was three-fourths through and was still waiting on one of the ladies to get some happy. Ultimately, some of them find happiness.  I'm not so sure they all did though.

Fans of Waiting to Exhale were excited to hear that Terry McMillan was bringing the ladies back in real time.  Most books offer a sequel that picks up right where the story ended.  McMillan fast forwarded the characters fifteen years where she left off, almost the same amount of time between the publication of both books.  I don't know that I need to remind most what was going on with the characters previously since WTE was THE black woman's Bible back in 1992.

Back in 1992 if I had to describe the characters in a few words, I would have said Savannah was a bit thirsty for a man, but pleasant enough. Gloria was a single mother finding comfort for her loneliness in food.  Robin was clueless and just as thirsty as Savannah.  Bernie was a woman shattered by a broken marriage.  In 2010, "thangs done changed"

SPOILERS BELOW!!! Skip on down to the bottom if you plan to read the book.

Remember the guy Bernie met shortly after her divorce? He was married, but his wife was dying?  Well she married him and it didn't turn out so well.  Suffering from the after effects of that relationship, Bernie has turned to prescription drugs.

Gloria and Marvin were certainly one of the happiest stories in WTE and I was ready to continue with that, but life doesn't happen that way and neither do McMillan books.  Marvin's death sends Gloria right back to where she was in WTE.

Robin, she who slept with everything that moved back in the day, is surprisingly single and celibate.  That doesn't mean she's not looking for love though.  Her friends give her a hard time about internet dating, but she's pretty sure the right man is out there for her.

Savannah...I just don't remember her being so damn bitter.  I mean there was nothing anyone could say, or do, to her in this book that didn't produce some snappy comeback.  So she got married and her marriage didn't work, but I really got the feeling that her attitude had a lot to do with it.


What did you like about this book?
Umm...well...yeah.  LaChanze, Gloria Reuben and S. Epatha Merkerson were absolutely fantastic as the voices of Robin, Bernadine and Gloria, respectively.

What didn't you like about this book?
Terry McMillan needs not ever voice another book again...EVER.  I've never heard anyone so unimpressed with breathing before in my life.  Every word she uttered sounded like it took more effort than she was willing to put into it.  That same flat voice, with a hint of crazy, you heard when she was on Oprah's couch talking about her ex-husband? That's the same voice you're getting here.  It was so bad that I seriously considered skipping over all of Savannah's parts just so I wouldn't have to hear her.  Quite honestly, I can't really say if the character of Savannah was a bitter as I thought she was or if I was just confused by the "whogivesadamnsicleness" of Ms. McMillan.

In addition, these women didn't find happiness.  Well maybe Robin did because she ultimately reached the goal she set for herself, but Bernie and Gloria both found themselves saddled with the responsibility of helping their grown children raise their own children.  And Savannah, well who knows. 

What can the author do to improve this book?
Leave the voice over work to the professionals.

Listening time: 11 hours, 30 minutes
Published September 2010

Theme for Savannah: Bitter by Chante' Moore

Theme for Robin: Wanna Be Loved by Jill Scott

Theme for Bernadine: Be OK by Chrisette Michele

Theme for Gloria: Ain't No Need To Worry by Anita Baker and The Winans

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