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Terry McMillan books in order

Terry McMillan is an American award-winning, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of literary fiction, women's fiction, and African American fiction.

She is known for writing books such as Waiting to Exhale ((1995), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998); Disappearing Acts (1999); and A Day Late and a Dollar Short (2014); all of which have received film adaptations.

A native of Port Huron, Michigan, her love story with literature began while she was shelving books at the local library.

Terry announced her entry into the literary scene in 1987 with her wildly successful debut novel, Mama.

The book was well received, as it only became a New York Times bestseller, but also won awards such as the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction award and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Known for her distinctive style of incorporating humor, wisdom, and warmth into her work, Terry’s books have sold millions of copies across the globe.

She currently lives in California.

More about Terry McMillan

Genres: African-American Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction

Born: 1951

United States


Non Series

  • Mama (1987)
  • Disappearing Acts (1989)
  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1996)
  • A Day Late and a Dollar Short (2000)
  • The Interruption of Everything (2003)
  • Who Asked You? (2013)
  • I Almost Forgot About You (2016)
  • It's Not All Downhill from Here (2020)


  1. Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction (Edited by Terry McMillan) (1990)


  1. It's OK if You're Clueless: and 23 More Tips for the College Bound (2006)

Waiting to Exhale

  1. Waiting to Exhale (1992)
  2. Getting to Happy (2010)

Detailed book overview

Non Series


Mildred Peacock is the tough, funny, feisty heroine of Mama, a survivor who’ll do anything to keep her family together. In Mildred’s world, men come and go as quickly as her paychecks, but her five children are her dream, her hope, and her future. Not since Alice Walker’s The Color Purple has a black woman’s story been portrayed with such rich power, honesty, and love.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 1987
ISBN: 978-0451216717
Publisher: Berkley
Disappearing Acts

Franklin Swift was a sometimes-employed construction worker and a not-quite-divorced dad of two. Zora Banks was a teacher, singer, and songwriter. They met in a Brooklyn brownstone, and there could be no walking away....

Disappearing Acts
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Wesley Snipes, Michael Imperioli, Laz Alonso, Clark Johnson, Regina Hall, Lisa Arrindell, Cleveland Sampson, Fernando Phifer Cameron
Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 1989
ISBN: 978-0451209139
Publisher: Berkley
How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Stella Payne is forty-two, divorced, a high-powered investment analyst, mother of eleven-year-old Quincy- and she does it all. In fact, if she doesn't do it, it doesn't get done, from Little League carpool duty to analyzing portfolios to folding the laundry and bringing home the bacon. She does it all well, too, if her chic house, personal trainer, BMW, and her loving son are any indication. So what if there's been no one to share her bed with lately, let alone rock her world? Stella doesn't mind it too much; she probably wouldn't have the energy for love—and all of love's nasty fallout—anyway.

But when Stella takes a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Jamaica, her world gets rocked to the core—not just by the relaxing effects of the sun and sea and an island full of attractive men, but by one man in particular. He's tall, lean, soft-spoken, Jamaican, smells of citrus and the ocean—and is half her age. The tropics have cast their spell and Stella soon realizes she has come to a cataclysmic juncture: not only must she confront her hopes and fears about love, she must question all of her expectations, passions, and ideas about life and the way she has lived it.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Cast: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas, Michael J. Pagan, Sicily Johnson, Richard Lawson, Barry Shabaka Henley, Lee Weaver, Glynn Turman, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney
Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 1996
ISBN: 978-0451209146
Publisher: Berkley
A Day Late and a Dollar Short

With her hallmark exuberance and a cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page, Terry McMillan has given us a tour-de-force novel of family, healing, and redemption. A Day Late and a Dollar Short takes us deep into the hearts, minds, and souls of America—and gives us six more friends we never want to leave.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short
Director: Stephen Tolkin
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Ving Rhames, Kimberly Elise, Mekhi Phifer, Anika Noni Rose, Tichina Arnold, Lyriq Bent, Arnold Pinnock, Shanice Banton, Jahmil French, Nigel Shawn Williams, John Bourgeois, Toya Alexis
Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2000
ISBN: 978-0451211088
Publisher: Berkley
The Interruption of Everything

“Being a lifetime wife and mother has afforded me the luxury of having multiple and even simultaneous careers: I've been a chauffeur. A chef. An interior decorator. A landscape architect, as well as a gardener. I've been a painter. A furniture restorer. A personal shopper. A veterinarian's assistant and sometimes the veterinarian. I've been an accountant, a banker, and on occasion, a broker. I've been a beautician. A map. A psychic. Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The T.V. Guide. A movie reviewer. An angel. God. A nurse and a nursemaid. A psychiatrist and psychologist. Evangelist. For a long time I have felt like I inadvertently got my master's in How to Take Care of Everybody Except Yourself and then a PhD in How to Pretend Like You Don't Mind.

But I do mind.”

Today forty-four year old Marilyn Grimes has decided to be something other than a wife, a mother, a sister, or a daughter: herself. But first, she has to figure out exactly who that is....

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-0451221186
Publisher: Berkley
Who Asked You?

Betty Jean already has her hands full when her grown daughter leaves her two young sons in her care. In between dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams—BJ still manages to hold down a job delivering room service at a hotel.

Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can’t be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs. But who asked her?

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0451417022
Publisher: Berkley
I Almost Forgot About You

Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life—great friends, family, and successful career—aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1101902592
Publisher: Ballantine Books
It's Not All Downhill from Here

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.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2020
ISBN: 978-1984823755
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction (Edited by Terry McMillan)

Edited by the critically acclaimed Terry McMillan, the award-winning author of five previous novels and recipient of the Essence Award for Excellence in Literature, this is a striking collection of works from contemporary African-American authors, both established and emerging.

This is the first original anthology of African-American writing in over a decade. Featuring works by over fifty African-American writers and a preface by John Edgar Wideman, this amazing anthology showcases some of our best contemporary writers, including: Terry McMillan, Clarence Major, Wanda Coleman, Ntozake Shange, John A. Wiliams, Barbara Summers, Ishmael Reed, and Al Young.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 1990
ISBN: 978-0140116977
Publisher: Penguin Books


It's OK if You're Clueless: and 23 More Tips for the College Bound

When her son Solomon graduated from high school, Terry McMillan was asked to be the guest speaker at the commencement ceremony. Determined not to be dull or redundant, Terry thought back to when she was stepping out into the world for the first time and the things she wished people had told her. Printing up what she thought were the most important tips for these new graduates, Terry was surprised to find that not only were these homemade pamphlets a hit with the students, but their parents clamored for copies too.

Now with It's Ok If You're Clueless, Terry McMillan brings her trademark wit and sass to every son and daughter about to take their first tentative steps into adulthood. Offering such nuggets as "Sit up straight," "Don't listen to your parents," and "Bring your laundry home," as well as "See the world" and "Read anything and everything," It's Ok If You're Clueless is packed with the commonsense advice and conversational tone that have made her novels classic bestsellers.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2006
Ebook: B001QA4SQ0
Publisher: Viking

Waiting to Exhale

Waiting to Exhale

When the men in their lives prove less than reliable, Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, and Robin find new strength through a rare and enlightening friendship as they struggle to regain stability and an identity they don’t have to share with anyone. Because for the first time in a long time, their dreams are finally OFF hold....

Waiting to Exhale
Director: Forest Whitaker
Cast: Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Gregory Hines, Dennis Haysbert, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Beach, Wendell Pierce, Donald Faison, Leon, Jeffrey D. Sams
Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 1992
ISBN: 978-0451233424
Publisher: Berkley
Getting to Happy

Waiting to Exhale was more than just a bestselling novel—its publication was a watershed moment in literary history. McMillan's sassy and vibrant story about four black women struggling to find love and their place in the world touched a cultural nerve, inspired a blockbuster film, and generated a devoted audience.

Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she's made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again—at fifty-one. 

Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life—to wear a wedding dress—has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything.

All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They've exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

Author: Terry McMillan
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-0451233349
Publisher: Berkley