Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)

This is what I’d consider a good “beach read.” I tried not to analyze it too much because I was so drained from my last book – which was interesting but, let’s be honest, a bit pretentious. This one was an easy, fun read about female friendships, love, sex, and how to navigate (in both healthy and not-so-healthy ways) the frustrations of romance and men. Keep in mind that it was published in 1992 so there are some truly funny dated pop culture and technology references.

Title – Waiting to Exhale

Author – Terry McMillan

Page count – 409

Rating – Borrow

This book weaves together the stories of four black women in their mid-thirties living in Phoenix: Savannah – single, career-focused, and always moving on to a new city; Bernadine – mother of two young children and going through a divorce because she caught her husband cheating; Robin – serial-dater of beautiful deadbeats; and Gloria – successful hairdresser and long-divorced mother of a teenage boy.

I’m a big fan of stories about female friendships. In a world where women are frequently encouraged to see each other as competition, it’s always lovely to read stories where women lean on each other for support, and encourage each other in their careers and romantic lives. Some issues I’m glad this book addresses: for some people, if there’s not physical chemistry/attraction with a potential partner, it doesn’t matter how much of a “good guy” he is…it’s just not going to happen; being fat and beautiful are not mutually exclusive; it’s usually better to stay single than to have an unhealthy, unhappy marriage.

Here’s a line from Savannah’s opening chapter that made me chuckle:

“[My sister] and Mama both think I’m out here dying of loneliness, which is not true. I mean, I have my days and I have my nights, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ll take whatever I can get. There’s a big difference between being thirsty and being dehydrated.” (p. 2)


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