REVIEW | It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

I have been a Terry McMillan fan for years. I can remember sneaking through my mother’s books on her nightstand as a young girl in the 90s getting familiar with novels like Mama, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and Disappearing Acts. Secretly devouring these books late into the midnight hour by the small lamp in my bedroom fueled my love of reading. It’s Terry McMillan’s way of telling stories of family, love, and relationships that made me feel like I was growing into a part of a sisterhood no one had told me about. Flipping those pages was a rite of passage! I was reading things that I had only heard about while eavesdropping when my mama’s friends came by (because of course I was not allowed to be in the room). I have experienced so many stages of life through the lens of a fictional Terry McMillan character that resembled my mom, aunt, grandmother, and other loved ones. I’ve grown up on Terry McMillan novels and will brake for anything she pens, automatically.


 All of that brings us to my experience with It’s Not All Downhill From Here. I read the synopsis and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I was fascinated by the premise of a 68-year-old owner of a beauty empire with a full life. I dived in head first with Loretha and could not wait to see what kinds of gems she would share in this read. 

Loretha was the owner of a beauty empire, which, as a beauty enthusiast, I loved. I did not love, however, how everyone in her family thought she was Daddy Warbucks because of this, though. Reading about Loretha’s family made me realize how much we rely on the matriarch of the family for so much support—whether it be financial, emotional, or otherwise. However, early in the book, Loretha experiences an unexpected loss. Thankfully, she can rely on her good girlfriends of over 50 years to offer her the emotional support she needs.

The friendships Loretha has with Sadie, Korynthia, Lucky, and Poochie seem to keep her afloat, mostly. When she isn’t discussing the trials of life with these ladies, she’s helping her family the best she can—including her daughter Jalecia, who doesn’t seem to want her help. While sometimes I wondered what would happen next with any character, other times I just wanted to move on to the next thing. The pacing read like Lo’s diary and I wanted so badly for her to do something that would shake some things up!

Speaking of pacing: when I got so far into the book, I started feeling like that scene in Life where Ray and Claude are new to the camp and the fellow inmates learn they can read. Everybody wanted their letters read, but each one was so depressing. After a while, nobody else wanted their letters read for fear of more bad news. I was like, damn. “Don’t nobody bring me no [more] bad news!” But just as the book suggests, it’s not all downhill from "here." There were happy moments. With all the tragedy and bad news I read in this book, I suppose these are the breaks and this is real life. I read a review that said this book was escapism, but it sure didn’t feel that way for me. Escapism for me reads like romance and HEAs. This one seems more real than anything I've read lately. And it made me sad.

While this may not be my favorite Terry McMillan book, I enjoyed reading it. Lucky might have gotten on my nerves a time or two too many. I might have been way too worried about Jalecia to even remember Lo had other family members. And I might have cringed every time Lo or her mother said certain phrases to "keep up with the times." But overall, It's Not All Downhill From Here taught me the importance of living this thing called life while we have it and loving your family members as they are.

Major thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine for the ARC of It's Not All Downhill From Here in exchange for an honest review.

⭐⭐⭐🌟 (3.5 Stars)

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