"Waiting to Exhale" by Terry McMillan -- A Book Review

Waiting to Exhale - Terry McMillan

Okay, yes, I know, I normally wait a day after I finish a book before I start reviewing it. But I'm going to change that now because I usually have fresher and better stuff on my mind the day I review it. 

 

Okay. So, as a woman, especially a black American woman, Waiting to Exhale was one of those things that I was mentioned often. In most cases, it was referencing the movie. But still. Whether it was the car burning scene or the scene where Glora meets her new neighbor. This book/movie was sometimes treated like a staple. And to say you didn't at least know a little bit about it kind of results in shock and awe from a lot of people. So, when I came across this book, I had to pick it up.

 

I can't believe I'm saying this but I think this is one of the few cases where the movie is better than the book, and I know that sounds strange. But it's true. Don't get me wrong, the book was written and the characters felt good, and I even related them to them a lot. There was some stuff in there that made me....ragey. Including one part that I, for a moment, considering DNF-ing it.

 

So, this book follows four women: Savannah, Robin, Gloria, and Bernadine. Each of these characters were different and alike in ways. They all had different careers, goals for their relationships, whether or not they were actively searching for that relationship, and even how they reached the point of being single (again) and being in this position of waiting to exhale. Savannah, Robin, and Gloria, basically, all start off single themselves. Bernadine, however, wasn't single; she was married, and at the start of the novel, her husband informs her that he's leaving her for his mistress. 

 

And the book essentially follows all of them as they try to either find love (again) or deal with everything going on in their lives surround their respective families.

 

I don't really have a favorite character, more like, I did like them all, though I admit there's a bit of lean toward Savannah and Gloria, but the one that made me the most ragey was probably Bernadine. I've never personally been through a divorce in the sense that I'm one of the people getting divorced. So, maybe I don't know what divorce feels like that angle or perspective. I'll take that. However, there was some stuff she did that just... As I stated earlier in some of my posts about this book, she seemed more upset at the fact that the woman her husband was leaving her for was white more so than the fact he was leaving her. I did understand her rage at that because, some people hold this idea or thought that being a POC and having a white spouse is a "true" sign of upward mobility. So, yes, that is a really, really good reason to be mad. However, it felt like she was directing a lot of her anger toward the mistress rather than her husband, if that makes sense. And that's the part I didn't really like. And I mean she was mad at her husband, but still though.

 

Another thing that made me ragey was a part where Bernie was kind of encouraging Savannah to date a married man, and there was even a part where she herself was with another person's husband. I'm not going to necessarily condemn cheaters, because I don't think that's right. At the same time, I don't think that's okay either. And while I understand her reason for saying it, and it probably coming from a place of anger, it still made me kind of mad but of all the things, it made me the least ragey.  

 

Now for the thing that made me the most ragey. There's a scene where Bernadine's  kids come back from staying with  her ex-husband, and one of them, her daughter and the younger of the two I think, explains that their dad had gotten married and he and his new wife are having a baby. The kid does this with excitement. Which causes Bernie to storm off and go to her room. Now, at this point, her kids did understand divorce but I guess they were handling it in different ways. So, Bernie goes to her room. The other kid, her son, slaps the kid who told her, her daughter, and calls her a b*tch, and says she talks too much and tells her to sit down on the couch (and has repeat "I talk too much" five hundred time or something). Bernie heard and even saw this whole exchange. Now, I thought, "Okay, she's going to go out there and doing something about that.". Nope! She walked back into her room, and was even agreeing with her son and laughed at it. And was like she was glad that at least one of her kids was on her side. Are you kidding me?! That is just no, no, no, no! And then it goes a bit forward, and I thought okay, maybe now she'll apologize or say something or do something. But again, nope. Just....UGH! ARGH! 

 

 

There was some body shaming from the other characters toward Gloria, most prominently from Robin. That I kind of didn't like. And there was the "I like my women big" kind of thing from her love interest. Which I admit I kind of shift between "aww that's cute" and "okay?"/"phrase that better" (because of the whole sexualization of a body type thing).

 

I saw very little slut-shaming I think. Which I liked. So, that made me happy. But there was a dismissive attitude toward Robin and her dating now and then. They called each other "b*tch" a lot. Like a lot. I get it that it was out of "friendship" or whatever, but it was still very excessive. 

 

But even with it all its issues, I did still like Waiting to Exhale. There were some parts that really made me angry, and some I was kind o.O about. But I did like it, and I thought it was well written. The characters were three dimensional and well developed. They made choices I didn't necessarily agree with. However, the whole story and how they changed kind of made up for some of it, not all of it. But I'm glad I got it.