My latest trip to Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago involved some quick thinking. I wanted to get in and out as fast as possible for two reasons:
- I wanted to get back home and out of the cold, cloudy and rainy January weather.
- I didn’t want time to overthink my book choices. I wanted to avoid judging a book by its cover, and so I planned to pick a read without knowing very much about it.
This speedy trip resulted in the purchase of two books. One of them was a John Green novel, something safe that I knew I’d enjoy.
The other book was something completely new to me: “I Almost Forgot About You” by Terry McMillan.
This novel follows Georgia Young, a 50-something-year-old woman living in San Francisco who has a successful career, two grown children and two ex-husbands. After learning that an ex-lover died, she sets out to reinvent her life from the monotony of what is safe. She decides to quit her day job, pursue art and reunite with the men she used to love to learn about their lives and more about herself.
What an interesting concept that is, rekindling friendships with men you used to be in love with. When most people I know fall out of love, they don’t really want to look back at what they’ve left behind. But I think it’s important to acknowledge those parts of our lives and the role they play in how we form relationships, both romantic and platonic.
As Georgia grapples with her own plans, she also balances the changes taking place in the lives of her two daughters and her best friends Wanda and Violet. This novel is very female-centric. Readers learn about the struggles and joys of being a woman, particularly a woman of color. Instead of focusing on the unexpected aspects of life as mistakes, including accidental pregnancy, dropping out of college or getting divorced, each woman finds a way to use these downfalls to build themselves back up.
Readers also learn about all different kinds of friendships – the kind where one friend is more reliant on the other; where friendship exists for the purpose of venting; where one friend is always stable, and even if she’s not, there is a support system to get her back on her feet; and perhaps the most important friendship of all: family
By the end of the novel, I felt like I was with Georgia every step of the way. I was with her when she wanted to sell her house, and when she re-lived falling in and out of love, and when she said “screw it” to body standards and found confidence in herself. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and as hard as it may seem, she is patient and willing to take the time to do things the right way.
McMillan’s writing made the characters jump off the page. Georgia as the protagonist felt especially real. She had real thoughts and feelings and motivations. Her life was possible. And what was perhaps most interesting was seeing a successful woman question herself — am I happy? Is this what I want? What can I do to make myself happy? She didn’t rely on a man to get her there, though she wasn’t afraid to admit to herself the difference love made in her life. She opens her heart and her mind to find the answers she needs.
As a college student figuring out my own next step, this book felt like it came into my life at just the right time. It was a reminder that if I don’t like things the way they are, it’s never too late to make a change. It helped me to realize that even when it feels like life is moving slowly, happiness can be found wherever you look. And sometimes when you aren’t looking, it just might find you.