Terry McMillan's new novel, "The Interruption of Everything," takes turns being funny, sad, whiny and feisty as its main character, Marilyn, enters a midlife crisis...

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“The Interruption of Everything”

by Terry McMillan

Viking, 384 pp., $25.95

Terry McMillan’s new novel, “The Interruption of Everything,” takes turns being funny, sad, whiny and feisty as its main character, Marilyn, enters a midlife crisis to beat all midlife crises … the menopausal sequel to “Waiting to Exhale” or “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

When we begin our story, Marilyn is a classic caretaker mom — her kids are college age, her husband is boring, plump and chasing the young women in his office. She’s wondering what she left behind of herself to get to this stagnant place, and she’s wondering about the hormonal changes to come.

Sitting in her doctor’s office to get the survey that will confirm she is starting “The Change,” she ponders: “Mood swings? Yes. For years I was just your average PMSer but according to my mother-in-law, once a bitch, always a bitch.”

But then Marilyn discovers that Mama Nature ain’t done with her yet. She’s not hormonal because she’s menopausal, she’s ragingly pregnant! The plot wrinkles onward: Her mother, Lovey, is starting to show signs of dementia. Her husband, Leon, wants to go on a New Age retreat in Costa Rica without her, presumably with his mistress. Marilyn’s sister, who has been in and out of drug rehab, starts slipping back onto the slippery slope. And then, to top it off, her mother-in-law moves in with Marilyn!

What makes this book sparkle is the frank, no-holds-barred humorous look at African-American midlife, sassy dialogue between women (McMillan’s specialty) and its unflinching treatment of ugly issues: drug abuse, aging, death and betrayal. As with other McMillan novels, there is a thread of hope through all the adversity.

While the conclusion of the novel may seem a little too tidy for some, it’s worth interrupting the other beachside novels you’ve started to pick up “The Interruption of Everything.”