A racy, zesty, irreverent and absorbing book with broad mainstream appeal, McMillan’s third novel (after Mama and Disappearing Acts ) tells the stories of four 30ish black women bound together in warm, supportive friendship and in their dwindling hopes of finding Mr. Right. Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria are successful professional or self-employed women living in Phoenix. All are independent, upwardly mobile and “waiting to exhale”–to stop holding their breaths waiting for the proper mate to come along. (Bernadine is married, but her husband walks out on her for a white woman as the novel opens.) They also share speech patterns that some readers may find disconcerting: they utter profanities with panache, unceasingly. Indeed, the novel’s major drawback may be the number of times such words as shit , fuck and ass are repeated on every page. These women have a healthy interest in sex, while deploring the fact that most of the men they meet are arrogant, irresponsible and chronically unfaithful. Each character is drawn with authenticity and empathy, and McMillan pulls no punches about their collective bad judgment in choosing partners for romance. After many vicissitudes, two of the heroines find love, but until then McMillan keeps us constantly guessing about which members of her lively quartet will be thus rewarded. There’s nothing stereotyped in her work here: it is fresh and engaging.
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