Two stars, read in January/February 2016.
So . . . I enjoyed this, until the end. I liked Marilyn, but I feel annoyed with how it turned out, and I am going to tell you about it with spoilers. The ending was a pretty big let-down.
Marilyn’s children are in college, and with this new space in her life, she’s starting to evaluate things in a way she’s never done before. She spends all this time throughout the book realizing how much is wrong in her life, how completely dead her relationship with her husband is, how excited she is to move on from raising children and get the Master’s degree she’d put off and be her own person. Her husband has been ignoring her for years, doesn’t talk to her about his own life or feelings, much less hers—and now, as it turns out, he is cheating on her. He goes to Costa Rica for a retreat to “find himself,” and with him gone, Marilyn knows that she doesn’t want him back.
Then, in a freak accident, she inherits two small children to raise. Instead of actually getting to move on and be her own person, she now literally gets a second chance to do motherhood “right,” because it turns out her lack of fulfillment the first time around was her own fault for not just taking care of herself while taking care of everyone else. Now she’s going to get her Master’s degree while raising her sister’s children, repairing her marriage (because of course they’re staying together), and taking care of her mother who has dementia.
McMillan taunts us with Marilyn’s ex-husband, the one who was really her soulmate, whom she left after three months because she was young and scared (and that’s how she ended up with the dud who’s having a full-blown cliche mid-life crisis). Instead of going anywhere with the soulmate—or, better still, not attaching herself to a relationship at all while she’s in the middle of a major life transition—Marilyn “realizes” that she took out her anger on her husband when she should have been angry with herself. So that’s actually bullshit.
I’ve been meaning to read Waiting to Exhale for a long time, and Terry McMillan has several more books that I still want to check out. I happened to pick this one up first because it fit a requirement for a reading challenge I’m doing, but now I’m hoping that the others will be better. This book’s protagonist deserved much better than her creator gave her.