Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Four black women in vivid dresses and hats
The characters are as vivid as the cover.

Waiting to Exhale is a powerful novel unlike any other I’ve read. I held my breath for fear that, unable to sustain the intensity, Terry McMillan would tack on happy ending.

I need not have worried.

Waiting is about four black women friends, each looking for a man who will be her sex partner, friend, companion, help meet, husband, and father to her children. So far, their men have rung up in the loser category.

Each chapter is a first-person account by one of the four women about what’s going on in her life, including her conversations with the others.

Readers can see from the women’s narratives that each of the four is intelligent, caring, and resourceful, respected at work and among her peers. Readers can also see that none of the four gives herself credit for her abilities and achievements.

Each woman thinks she can’t get along without a man who will take her breath away. Each fails to see that her heartthrob may take her for everything else she has, too.

McMillan gives the novel a psychologically sensible ending that’s just enough to make you hopeful things will get better for the four “sistuhs” who feel like your sisters by the end of the novel.

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
Viking. ©1992. 409 p.
1992 bestseller #9; my grade: A-

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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