Cover image for Terry McMillan : the unauthorized biography
Terry McMillan : the unauthorized biography
Patrick, Diane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
vi, 231 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Thomas Dunne books."
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.C3868 Z86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3563.C3868 Z86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PS3563.C3868 Z86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Novelist Terry McMillan is widely considered the pre-eminent voice of young, professional, African-American women today. Her novels Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back have become touchstones for a culture that in the past has often been dismissed, or worse, ignored.

But the story of her life is as compelling and inspirational as any of her novels. McMillan was born in Port Huron, Michigan, and raised by her mother. Instead of staying in her small town she gambled on a brighter future: with only a dream and meager savings, she moved to California where she began writing. Later she left for New York City, where she struggled as a single mother and office clerk before she finally found acceptance for her work. Through tireless promotion, McMillan found millions of fans, both black and white, and in the process changed the way the book industry looks at Black America.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though fueled above all by her talent, McMillan's successÄas is made clear in this life of the popular novelistÄalso owes much to her strength of character. How fortunate, then, that the first bio of the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back comes from a writer (of, among other books, several children's bios of African-Americans: Toni Morrison, Colin Powell, etc.) whose prose displays energy and personality equal to her subject. Patrick begins with a long, entertaining foreword that explains the genesis of this book, including her futile attempts to gain McMillan's cooperation. The novelist doesn't charm when the biographer finally meets her, but, Patrick points out, in any case "you have to give her props" for what she's accomplishedÄand Patrick proceeds to do just that. Tracking McMillan from her childhood in Port Huron, Mich., through her early writing years in New York and subsequent fame and fortune, Patrick mixes facts about McMillan's life (both professional and personal), psychological insight into her subject and deep background on the places, times and people around her. Of particular note is Patrick's acute analysis of the changes McMillan has wrought in the publishing industry, dramatically expanding the opportunities for, and commercial expectations of, African-American writers. Unauthorized this book may be, but it suffers little from McMillan's boycott, as Patrick has interviewed many of those near to the novelist and provides perceptive readings of McMillan's writings, nimbly untangling the weave between her subject's life and work. Lively, opinionated and smartly informative, this bio should appeal not only to myriad McMillan fans but to anyone interested in a compelling presentation of a model modern American success story. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Patrick, a regular contributor to Publishers Weekly, has written a breezy biography of the African American author of the popular novels Waiting To Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Although Patrick did not have the cooperation of her subject, she seems to have McMillan's knack for choosing a topic for her first book that is sure to find an audience. Basing her ideas on fairly extensive research, Patrick speculates on a number of not unreasonable parallels between McMillan's life and her fiction: Point Haven in Mama is much like Port Huron, MI, McMillan's birthplace; Stella's character finds love with a much younger man in Jamaica, as McMillan did. A few problems plague the reading: there are many uncited quotations throughout the text as well as minor errors. McMillan's birthdate is given as October 18, 1951, but later Patrick writes, "By the time Terry was in kindergarten, it was the early 1960s." Nonetheless, this first biography of the popular McMillan should have a fairly wide appeal and is recommended for public libraries.ÄGina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences in Philadelphia Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.