This review will contain spoilers.
It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan published 2020 is a novel about female friendship, aging, children, husbands, finances and how life doesn't have to be over when we reach our senior years. The four friends at the center of this novel: Loretha, Korynthia, Lucky and Sadie are in their late 60's. They live in Pasadena and have known each other since high school. A fifth friend, Pookie, lives out of state but joins the group via zoom when the friends have their monthly dinner to catch up and offer each other advise and support.
One of the friends, Loretha, narrates the novel and when we meet Loretha her life is going well. She and her husband Carl have a great marriage. They are financially secure. No serious health issues. Things are not perfect of course. Loretha worries about her daughter's drinking but for the most part Loretha's life is in a good place
And then while they are on vacation Carl dies suddenly from a heart attack. Loretha is devastated and a few months later she learns she has diabetes. Her friends' lives have hit a rough patch as well. Lucky's husband wants a divorce. Korynthia has a son who is hooked on opiods. Sadie is involved with the married pastor at her church and Pookie has been hiding the truth about her cancer diagnosis.
But the title of the book It's Not All Downhill From Here assures us that happy endings are coming, maybe not sadly for Pookie but certainly for Lucky, Loretha, Sadie and Korynthia. And I guess that's why I had a problem with the book which is humorous and touching but for me unrealistic. Take Loretha for example, it's not just that as the novel progresses she begins to get her diabetes under control by sensible eating and that her daughter decides to go into rehab and deal with her depression. These two changes in Loretha life are realistic and inspiring.
But the good fortune doesn't end there. Loretha by the time the novel ends has also opened up a new beauty shop that becomes the hit of the neighborhood. She reunites with her sister who she has been estranged from for years. Her son, his wife and their children decide to move back to Pasadena from Japan where they were living so the family can all be together. And, you guessed it, a handsome man in Loretha's exercise class asks her out for coffee. Now, I believe at any age people can turn their life around but to this extent? And the lives of Loretha's friends are also going swimmingly by the time the novel comes to a close.
Terry McMillan is a talented writer. I loved Waiting To Exhale which was a huge bestseller in the 1990's. But It's Not All Downhill From Here for me was a letdown. That said this book did receive a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and thousands of positive reviews at Amazon.com so you might want to give the book a try and judge for yourself.