Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
NAL Trade • $15.00 • First published in 1992
Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy came out yesterday—but before I start that I have some catching up to do. Luckily, I’ve been meaning to crack my copy of Waiting to Exhale for a while, and Labor Day weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity. (Getting to Happy takes place 15 years after Waiting to Exhale ends.)
Waiting to Exhale is about Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria—four successful black women living in Phoenix and looking for love. When it was published in 1992, it was a huge hit. Terry McMillan’s website explains the significance of the novel’s reception:
Waiting to Exhale took the publishing world by storm. No one predicted the droves of women and black people who would line the streets hoping to hear Terry read and sign their books. Nobody in main stream publishing got the memo that these were demographics who not only read books, but paid good money too.
As we all know, McMillan went on to achieve even more success, writing (to date) five more books, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
Here’s an excerpt from Waiting to Exhale—which I would recommend if you haven’t already read it: it’s funny, lively and a page-turner.
Times have damn sure changed.
And I can’t lie. Now I worry. I worry about if and when I’ll ever find the right man, if I’ll ever be able to exhale. The more I try not to think about it, the more I think about it. This morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee, when it occurred to me that my life is half over. Never in a million years would I have ever believed that I would be thirty-six years old and still childless and single. But here I am.
And just for fun (and to take you back to 1995), watch the trailer for the movie adaptation starring Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston:
It’s also interesting to read an interview with McMillan about her 2005 novel The Interruption of Everything, in which she reflects on Waiting to Exhale more than a decade after it came out:
“Waiting to Exhale alone, that was 13 years ago! I mean, my goodness, I was in my 30s and the concerns I had then . . . I mean, those women make me sick! They seem like such whiners, except for one,” she says. “But the thing was, at that time, there were so many women that I knew, myself included, who looked up and realized, gee whiz, what happened to those husbands we were supposed to be getting? Not only husbands, we didn’t even have dates! Back then, it was kind of important because we were in it, but then it kind of came and went. But they don’t let you forget! My goodness!”
What are you reading today?