cover image It’s Not All Downhill from Here

It’s Not All Downhill from Here

Terry McMillan. Ballantine, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9848-2374-8

In McMillan’s lively, perceptive novel (following I Almost Forgot About You), 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. [em]Agent: Molly Friedrich, The Friedrich Agency (Mar.) [/em]