Friday, November 12, 2010

Getting To Happy - But For Readers, Happy Doesn't Come

Terry McMillan  Getting to Happy / 375 pp / Published September 7th 2010 by Viking Adult

I was disappointed and didn't really care for this particular novel, the author spent entirely too much time playing character catch up from the 15 year old (Waiting To Exhale) prequel, instead of developing a more interesting storyline. It was an effort and incredible struggle to get through, as oppose to a comfortable read of familiar characters.

Savannah’s husband turned out to be some porn freak, so she opts for single life again. She doesn’t seem to have changed much – seems her sister has jumped on the bandwagon of quilting her into doing what she wants, like her mother use to do.. Bernadine, who appeared to be reasonably intelligent in the first installment of this sequel, now appears to be somewhat dense, allowing her mega-divorce settlement to diminish, and herself to be swindled by her second husband, so she is addicted to prescription drugs.  Robin still hasn’t snagged and bagged a husband, but has managed to become a serious shopaholic; her teenage daughter speaks to her as if they are on the same level.  And poor, Gloria who was deliriously happy in her marriage, gets the stuffing knocked out of her heart when her beloved is murdered getting something she needed to finish cooking dinner.  In “Exhale”, they were four intelligent, strong, and vibrant women, now they just seem dumb, weak, and lifeless.

And it’s not just what’s happened or hasn’t happened with the characters, it’s the way or lack of how it’s being told.  Perhaps that’s one of the problems, she’s ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’- rule number one, of writing 101.  Sadly the writing seemed rather amateurish for a veteran writing of McMillan's standing.

The four main characters and their dialogue are flat. and took far too long 'getting to happy' if they ever did - I had to decline reading the last few chapters, as this book did not catch, hold or spark my interest. The story just seems to go nowhere. I'm not trying to bad mouth this book, it just wasn't for me. I've read other work by this author, and I don't recall having struggled to get through any of the others.

Although there are plans to adapt this into a movie as was its 15 year old predecessor - I cannot say I'm looking forward to seeing this on the big or small screen. But who knows, perhaps it will fare better on screen than it did in print.

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