Georgia Young is an optometrist in her fifties. She lives alone in a large house because her two daughters are grown, and she’s been divorced twice. Although she has a crush on Detective Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, it’s not enough. She’s bored in her safe, repetitive career, and lonely. When she meets a new patient with an odd last name, she realizes she dated this young woman’s father. He’s dead, the woman tells her, and has been dead five years. Georgia can’t believe someone she loved could be dead and she not know. Thus begins her quest to make a list of the men she’s loved and contact them to ask if they’re alive and thriving and to thank them for loving her — and why they stopped loving her.
Now, this wouldn’t be a Terry McMillan book if the main character didn’t have children who find trouble and a few good girlfriends. Surprisingly, McMillan limits Georgia’s friendships to mainly one other woman: Wanda, who was born wealthy but is entirely cheap and tacky. I loved Georgia and Wanda’s interactions; McMillan’s humor shines through each time they get together or call. When Georgia explains that’s she’s found an ex and is going to see him, Wanda encourages to have sex with him:
” . . . Men do this shit all the time.” [says Wanda]
“And what’s that?” [asks Georgia]
“Get it whenever with whomever they can. We can learn from them, and especially you about now.”
“I’m just excited about seeing him after all these years. I think I’d be happy just to hug him.”
“Hug him? He’s a goddamn man, not your long lost son.”
Wanda is the ultimate girlfriend, rooting on Georgia, pushing Georgia out of her comfort zone, and being a bit of a stinker. If Georgia calls at a bad time, Wanda flat-out says, “And don’t call me back. Nelson’s half [blue] pill is about to kick in.”
As Georgia recollects why she no longer sees the men on her list whom she loved, Wanda reminds her Georgia should be systematic in contacting them: start with the most recent (her two ex-husbands) and then go backward. Michael was husband number one, and the way McMillan describes the relationship — in a list format, no less — touched me. The “love” list includes, “He read to me. He let me fall asleep on top of him. He took my braids out. He spooned me almost every night. The “break-up” list includes, “He stopped holding my hand. He stopped kissing me good night. He stopped kissing me good morning. He stopped kissing me.” Because it’s the moments that matter in a relationship and not the big declarations, McMillan’s use of a list was effective in communicating how Georgia’s heart was built up and then broken.
If you are a careful reader who wants every inclusion of information to mean something, McMillan might leave you irritated. However, if you read simply in the moment, you’ll love I Almost Forgot About You. I’m somewhere in the middle. I noticed details like Georgia had an older brother in the army who died that never gets mentioned again nor affects Georgia. Then, there was Georgia’s oldest daughter claiming she wanted to move closer to her mother (implying she might buy Wanda’s house) that doesn’t go anywhere. It’s all fodder that adds to the setting and gives you a very full picture of Georgia’s life, but I’m someone who wants everything to mean something. When McMillan did a virtual author visit with my local library, she showed us the massive filing system she has for all of her characters, including character sheets, which may be the culprits of these extra bits of information.
While I was reading I Almost Forgot About You, I enjoyed myself. Biscuit and I laughed about the characters, we talked about what it means when a woman in her fifties wants to change careers, sell her house, and reflect on her past relationships. Who supports her, and who thinks she’s foolish? Is there ever a good time to give up security for the unknown? A recommended read.