How Stella Got Her Groove Back Essay - Critical Essays

Terry McMillan

Critical Context

Initial reviewers dismissed Terry McMillan’s novel, saying it was written quickly to meet a publishing gap for an untapped readership of female African American fans. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called it a “fairy tale,” Kim Hubbard of People Weekly quoted McMillan’s comment that the story grew directly out of personal experience, and John Skow of Time called it “a silly wish-fulfillment fantasy that barely qualifies as beach literature” but that filled an industry need for African American pop fiction, regardless of quality. However, Paulette Richards in Terry McMillan argues that the novel is better than it might initially seem, following in the footsteps of Zora Neale Hurston’s work and building on powerful African American archetypes of older women learning from younger men how to regain the joy of living. Furthermore, Michael Korda points out that, in the twentieth century, except for Bill Cosby, Terry McMillan was the only African American author to have two best sellers, one of them this novel.