Waiting to Exhale

By Terry McMillan,

Book cover of Waiting to Exhale

Book description

The story of four vibrant black women in their thirties. They draw on each other for support as they struggle with careers, divorce, motherhood and their relationships with men.

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Waiting to Exhale as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

As a white Jewish woman, I know I’m not the authority on the systemic issues inherent in romantic relationships in Black culture, but the good news is, this novel doesn’t require me to be. Bernadine, Savannah, Gloria, and Robin, four Black, thirty-something women navigating their way through love in the nineties, is a story that transcends race. 

As I read about their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and pain, I recognized myself. Through McMillan’s clear voice, I was able to step into each character’s shoes and feel my way through their experiences. I also learned that a cheating guy’s car…

When this book premiered in the mid-nineties, I was fairly young but absolutely shook by these grown thirtysomething women’s stories of not just finding romance but finding themselves with a lot of help from their friends. You will be hard-pressed to pick a favorite character among Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria but I will give you a tip: Don’t even try. They are all strong, exuberant, and self-determined professional women at the centers of their families and communities. The search for real, true, lasting love plays out across one year in Arizona that changes their lives. On nearly every page,…

From Kalisha's list on Black women’s friendships.

I don’t think you can talk about books that celebrate strong friendships without mentioning Waiting to Exhale. McMillan’s classic tale about four Black women learning to love themselves as they navigate relationships has been the standard for storytelling about Black female friendships since it came out in 1992. You’ll laugh, cry, get angry, and ultimately feel empowered by the end of it to take on the world—as long as your friends are right there with you. 

From Darby's list on celebrating strong friendships.

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