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It's not all downhill from here : a novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * After a sudden change of plans, a remarkable woman and her loyal group of friends try to figure out what she's going to do with the rest of her life--from Terry McMillan, the bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MARIE CLAIRE AND GOOD HOUSEKEEPING * "Poignant, funny and full of life, this is a balm for troubled times."-- People

Loretha Curry's life is full. A little crowded sometimes, but full indeed. On the eve of her sixty-eighth birthday, she has a booming beauty-supply empire, a gaggle of lifelong friends, and a husband whose moves still surprise. True, she's carrying a few more pounds than she should be, but Loretha is not one of those women who think her best days are behind her--and she's determined to prove wrong her mother, her twin sister, and everyone else with that outdated view of aging wrong. It's not all downhill from here.

But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. With a little help from her friends, of course.
First Chapter or Excerpt
Chapter 1 I don't want another surprise party. Which is just one reason why a few weeks ago, when my husband, Carl, called while I was walking our dog, B. B. King, to the dog park and asked what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, I politely said, "Baby, let's try to figure out how to get our second wind." At first Carl high-­pitch chuckled like he was a soprano or something, then he said, "Will we need a boat?" I chuckled right back, even though I was serious as a heart attack. "Don't you worry, Miss Lo. I've got you covered," he said as he hung up. I knew he didn't really get my drift. What I meant was, since we both had more days behind us than we have ahead of us, how about we try to figure out what more we can do to pump up the volume? It's not that our life is boring. Well, maybe it is, a little. But even though we don't do very many things that generate excitement, I still love him more than my Twizzlers! Carl is a retired contractor who refuses to retire, and after thirty years of all work and no play selling hair and beauty products in two stores too many, I don't exactly qualify as a thrill a minute either. I released B. B. King's leash inside the dog park, but he just stood there shivering, as if he were waiting to be invited to participate in some activity that didn't require him to run or jump. In human years, he and I will soon be the same age: sixty-­eight. His whiskers and eyebrows are peppered with gray, but unlike me, B. B. doesn't dye his hair. He is our third German shepherd and I don't want to think about how long it will be until he doesn't want to, or can't, hop in the back seat of my Volvo station wagon, which I will drive until, like me, it stops running. I sat on the green metal bench and watched him sniff a friendly chocolate poodle. I realized I was hoping and praying I wasn't going to have to sit through yet another lackluster party where nobody even thinks about dancing until they hear a song you have to be damn near seventy to remember, which I suppose now includes me. And that's if you call doing the cha-­cha-­cha in flats or espadrilles or two-­inch wedges with rubber soles to a beat they all hear differently, dancing. I don't. I watch music videos on YouTube. I find myself rocking my future-­size-­twelve hips, swinging and swaying my shoulders and popping my fingers to the likes of "Single Ladies" or "Uptown Funk" by that little cutie Bruno Mars until I have to wipe my forehead. I have not forgotten how to dance. In fact, sometimes, Carl will sit in his leather recliner, lean way back, and just watch me swirl around in my three-­inch heels, which I wear to work every day because I like to appear glamorous. In those moments I feel pretty and sexy and forty. Carl just nods his head like he's agreeing and pops his fingers until the smile on his luscious lips begins to disappear. Then he might hold up his index finger, suggesting that I give him a minute but don't stop dancing, slowly push himself up to a standing position, and limp down the hallway to take one of his little blue pills. Oh, hell. Here I go again. Meandering. I'm just going to have to stop apologizing for it, because from what I've learned reading my AARP newsletter, this is only the beginning. Though, truth be told, forgetting what I was talking about and going off on tangents isn't completely new to me. Back in my twenties, I smoked a lot of reefer with my friends. We'd all sit in a circle on the floor on giant pillows and have deep conversations about the purpose of life or something having to do with God or how we were going to change the world, but then we'd all stop talking because we were suddenly mesmerized by the lava lamp. Then somebody would realize they were one step away from freaking out and would jump to a standing position in order to snap out of it, and then they'd ask: "What the f*** were we just talking about again?" And since not one of us had a clue, we'd just start passing the joint until the next philosophical inquiry overtook our minds. Thank God I got tired of thinking about things that didn't matter and realized I liked the way I felt when I wasn't under the influence of anything. And when I didn't like how I felt, it was a hell of a lot easier to figure out how to deal with it when my head was clear. Anyway, now I'm a certified senior citizen, and my mind has earned the right to go wherever it wants, so I decided that when I can't remember something, it must not have been that important anyway. But sometimes, when I do remember, it feels like an accomplishment. Like right now, I'm remembering last year's dull party. My feelings were hurt because both my twin sister, Odessa, and my one and only daughter, Jalecia, had been no-­shows. Now, Odessa is a bitch and proves it on a weekly basis. Like I said, she's my twin. But there are two things about us that make us special. First of all, we were born in different years. I'm December 31 and she's January 1. We are also technically only half sisters, even though we're fraternal twins. Apparently Ma was a hot number back in the day and slept with two different fellas only days apart. This probably explains why we are nothing alike and why we're not as chummy as most twins. Ma didn't bother to tell us this until we were in junior high, but by then we weren't interested in who our daddies were. It's a fact that Odessa has been jealous of me for years. Jealous I was crowned the first black homecoming queen at our predominantly white high school fifty years ago, even though I wasn't pretty then and I'm not pretty now. Jealous I know how to make myself appear to be more attractive than I am, and occasionally still get honked at. Jealous of my being a successful entrepreneur. She has never once come into my Pasadena store. Never once given me a compliment, no matter how nice I might look. I didn't know our lives were a contest. I love her, but in all honesty, I don't really like her, and if she wasn't my sister I probably wouldn't have anything to do with her. Right before Odessa took early retirement at fifty from her job as a policewoman for the City of Pasadena, her husband left her for a forty-­three-­year-­old ex-­Lakers cheerleader who could still do the splits. Odessa wiped him out and bought a house that seemed purposely much bigger than mine up in the hills of Altadena. Then she started going to church like some people go to AA. Her personality changed after the Holy Ghost struck her, but she doesn't seem to see how unhappy she still is or acknowledge that maybe God intentionally leaves some gaps for us to fill in. She started acting like she would get electrocuted from a mere whiff of alcohol. Before she retired, she lived in bars and just sat around waiting to arrest somebody, but now she won't go inside any establishment where liquor is poured. My daughter, on the other hand, has the opposite relationship to alcohol. She's had an on-­again, off-­again love affair with alcohol and lately with some of those designer pain pills for people who aren't in pain. I fired her from my store for stealing from me. Me, her own mother, who gave her a job because she hasn't figured out what to do with her life after forty years. That is apparently my fault because I had a job and then a business and then a divorce, so her failure to launch is payback for my not having been present enough or generous enough. But I couldn't be everywhere at once, and I'm tired of being punished for it. She didn't come to my party and hasn't spoken to me in more than a year. All I can say is thank God for sons, or I should say son, since I only have one. Jackson is Jalecia's younger brother and the product of my second marriage. He wasn't at my party last year either, but he had a good reason. He lives in Tokyo with his wife, Aiko, who had just given birth to premature twin daughters. They still needed a few more months to grow and they needed their daddy there. My BFFs were there, though. Lucky. Sadie. Korynthia. Even Poochie made the trip from Vegas. I grew up with all of them. Occasionally we all get on one another's nerves. Sometimes to the point that our friendships get temporarily annulled. But we always come running back because we have loved one another longer than some of us have loved the men in our lives. Excerpted from It's Not All Downhill from Here: A Novel by Terry McMillan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Trade Reviews
Library Journal Review
Between her beauty supply stores, her set of lifelong friends, and her family, Loretha has a full and busy life. When her husband dies while they are out of town celebrating her birthday, she shuts down and goes into months of mourning. But as always, her family needs her. Loretha's alcoholic daughter Jalecia refuses to talk to her and communicates only through Loretha's granddaughter, Cinnamon. Cinnamon and her husband are kind, but neither has a steady job and they are expecting twins. Loretha's twin sister, Odessa, has constant money issues, and their 86-year-old mother is slowly succumbing to dementia. And as a woman in her late 60s, Loretha has her own health issues. Her life is not over, though, and with the support of her friends and her own determination, Loretha has adventurous plans for her future. VERDICT McMillan (I Almost Forgot About You) delivers humor and wit while dealing with serious issues such as addiction, mental illness, health care, and death. Relatable characters in true-to-life situations will bring back the fans in droves. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]--Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV
Publishers Weekly Review
In McMillan's lively, perceptive novel (following The Interruption of Everything), a woman relies on the support of her longtime friends to help her cope with the trials of aging and widowhood. Loretha Curry's husband Carl whisks her away for a weekend getaway in Palm Springs, Calif., to celebrate her 68th birthday, only to die of a heart attack while they are staying at the resort. Loretha's friends rally around her as she tries to recover from the devastating loss. Loretha also contends with her own health issues after her doctor diagnoses her with diabetes. Though Loretha is filled with loneliness after Carl's death, the wit and candor of her friends lessens the blow as Loretha weathers the angst of a difficult relationship with her alcoholic daughter Jalecia and considers selling her beauty products business. News of Jalecia's attempt to book herself into a seedy shelter leads Loretha to reckon with her own life choices ("being ambitious can backfire when you're black, a woman, and a mother"). McMillan writes with a staggering depth of feeling, credibly capturing the characters' emotions as she unpacks their interpersonal conflicts. This delightful novel balances inspiration for renewal with the hard facts of aging. Agent: Molly Friedrich, The Friedrich Agency (Mar.)
Kirkus Review
A close-knit group of 60-something black women deals with loss, illness, addicted family members, and the never-ending challenges of diet and exercise.In her 10th novel, McMillan (I Almost Forgot About You, 2016, etc.) joins long-career novelists such as Philip Roth and Anne Tyler as she sails her protagonists with her into older age. Southern California beauty supply mogul Loretha Curry is about to celebrate her 68th birthday with her doting, still-hot third husband, and she begins by watching the DVD of her 67th. Here we meet her gal pals: Sadie, the church lady who might be a lesbian; Korynthia, the gorgeous 6-foot-1-inch-tall exercise instructor; Lucky, married to a white architect and with a weight problem like Loretha's; and Poochie, a cruise-loving widow rolling in dough, now living in Las Vegas to care for her ailing mother. Loretha has told Carl that she's sick of parties, so the dear man surprises her with a weekend at a favorite Palm Springs resort, where less happy surprises await. Speaking of hot husbands and hotel rooms, the little blue pill plays a humorous role throughout the novel, which is sprinkled with comments like "And he knows how to take just the right amount of Viagra, not like Mr. Roto-Rooter." After Loretha's world takes a devastating hit in Chapter 1, all her problems become much more pressing. She's completely alienated from her twin sister and her alcoholic daughter; her son lives in Japan, and she's never met her grandkids; her 86-year-old mother is eager to leave the nursing home; many people in her life need money and plan to get it from her. With all this pressure, it's no wonder Loretha's ignoring her diabetes diagnosis and putting on pounds like crazy, and the only exercise she gets is walking her dog, B.B. King.If only things went so well in real life! Enjoy the wish fulfillment of ready cash and ideal outcomes. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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