Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale was more than just a bestselling novel - its publication was a watershed moment in literary history. McMillan's sassy and vibrant story about four African American women struggling to find love and their place in the world touched a cultural nerve, inspired a blockbuster film, and generated a devoted audience.
Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she's made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life - to wear a wedding dress - has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything. All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They've exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.
It’s been 15 years and the four women you loved from Waiting to Exhale are back with a few more wrinkles, a few more pounds, but the same old man issues. Savannah (voiced by author Terry McMillan), who was single when we last knew her, has now been married for 10 years and is falling out of love. Robin has a 15-year-old daughter and is trying her hand at internet dating. Bernadine, now twice divorced, is drowning in her prescription drug addiction. And Gloria, the only woman out of the four with a good man and a happy home is dealt a tragic blow, which brings all four of the women even closer in support of their friend. The same personalities that made the original novel so great are still there, but the bitterness and unhappiness that pervades these women’s lives gets tiresome in this sequel.
McMillan’s portrayal of Savannah is especially bitter and acid-laced and one can’t help but wonder if her own failed marriage inspires the tone. The other three characters, voiced by S. Epatha Merkerson, Gloria Reuben, and LaChanze, sound strikingly familiar to the actresses who portrayed the women in the movie Waiting to Exhale. Whether on purpose or not, it’s easy to picture the characters as their on-screen personas and get involved with them all over again.
If you loved Waiting to Exhale and are curious about where these women ended up, this book is worth a listen. But if you’re hoping they all found a happy ending or have learned something about men and love in the past 15 years, you’re bound to be disappointed. Colleen Oakley
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A Book About Middle Aged Women....