The Interruption of Everything By Terry McMillan (Book Review)

Terry McMillan is a name that is synonymous with black literature. Her novels have tackled subjects such as love, relationships, race, and family, and have touched the hearts of many readers. “The Interruption of Everything” is McMillan’s seventh novel, published in 2005. In this book review, I will explore the different aspects of the novel and give my personal opinion on whether it is worth reading.

The Interruption of Everything By Terry McMillan (Book Review)

A Brief Overview of Terry McMillan’s Literary Career


Terry McMillan was born in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1951. She started writing in her thirties while working as a secretary in a law firm. Her first novel, “Mama,” was self-published in 1987 and was later picked up by a major publishing house. McMillan gained major recognition with her third novel, “Waiting to Exhale,” which was published in 1992 and later adapted into a successful movie. McMillan’s other notable works include “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Disappearing Acts,” and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short.”

Early Life and Influences

Terry McMillan grew up in a family of five children. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a warehouse worker. McMillan has cited her mother as an influence in her writing, stating that she learned storytelling from her. McMillan also drew inspiration from other black authors such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

McMillan’s upbringing in a working-class family in Michigan also influenced her writing. Her novels often explore the lives of working-class African Americans and the challenges they face in society.

Breakthrough with “Waiting to Exhale”

Waiting to Exhale

Waiting to Exhale” was a breakout novel for McMillan. It tells the story of four black women and their relationships with men. The novel was groundbreaking in its portrayal of black women and their sexuality. McMillan’s portrayal of strong, independent women resonated with readers and helped to make the novel a bestseller.

The success of the novel led to a movie adaptation starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The movie was also a success, grossing over $80 million at the box office.

Other Notable Works

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

McMillan went on to write several more successful novels, including “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” which was also adapted into a movie starring Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs. The novel tells the story of a middle-aged woman who falls in love with a younger man while on vacation in Jamaica.

McMillan’s other notable works include “Disappearing Acts,” which tells the story of a struggling musician and the woman he falls in love with, and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” which explores the dynamics of a dysfunctional family.

Overall, Terry McMillan’s literary career has been marked by a commitment to telling the stories of African American women. Her novels have resonated with readers around the world and have helped to bring attention to the experiences of black women in America.

Plot Summary of “The Interruption of Everything”

The Interruption of Everything

The Interruption of Everything” is a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel that follows the life of Marilyn Grimes, a middle-aged woman who is feeling unfulfilled and stuck in her routine. Her life takes a sudden turn when her daughter, Tiffany, calls her and asks her to take care of her two grandchildren. Marilyn’s initial reluctance soon turns into a newfound joy as she discovers the joys of being a caregiver and the love that comes with it.

As Marilyn navigates her new role, she begins to question her stagnant life and the complacency in her marriage to Leon. Leon, on the other hand, is having an affair, which Marilyn discovers, and this revelation shakes her to her core. The novel follows Marilyn’s journey as she tries to come to terms with the betrayal and the changing dynamics of her relationships with her husband and daughters.

Main Characters

The novel features a cast of well-developed characters that bring the story to life. Marilyn Grimes is the main character of the novel, and her journey of self-discovery is the centerpiece of the story. Leon Grimes, Marilyn’s husband, is a complacent man who takes his wife for granted. Tiffany and Trista are Marilyn’s adult daughters, each dealing with their own challenges in life.

Storyline and Key Events

The novel is a poignant exploration of the challenges and joys of midlife. Marilyn’s routine is shaken up when she takes on the role of caregiver for her grandchildren, and this experience becomes a turning point in her life. She begins to question her stagnant life and her marriage to Leon, who is having an affair. Marilyn’s journey of self-discovery is both heartwarming and inspiring, as she learns to take risks and embrace change.

The novel is full of key events that shape Marilyn’s journey, such as her discovery of Leon’s infidelity, her growing relationship with her grandchildren, and her decision to pursue a new career. The novel is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of family.

Themes and Motifs

“The Interruption of Everything” explores a range of themes that are relevant to people of all ages. The novel touches on the challenges of midlife, the complexities of family dynamics, and the devastating effects of infidelity. At its core, the novel is about self-discovery and the importance of taking risks in life. Marilyn’s journey is a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and find happiness.

The novel also includes several motifs that add depth to the story. For example, the motif of caregiving is central to the story, as Marilyn’s experience with her grandchildren teaches her the importance of love and sacrifice. The motif of change is also prevalent, as Marilyn learns to embrace change and take risks in her life.

Critical Analysis of “The Interruption of Everything”

McMillan’s writing style in “The Interruption of Everything” is engaging and relatable. The novel is written in first-person perspective, which makes the reader feel as though they are experiencing the story through Marilyn’s eyes. McMillan also does an excellent job of exploring the different relationships in the novel, particularly the one between Marilyn and Leon. She portrays their marriage realistically, without sugarcoating the problems they face.

Writing Style and Narrative Voice

The novel is written in a conversational tone, which makes it easy to read. McMillan’s use of humor also adds to the novel’s charm. The way she uses language is also noteworthy. Her sentences are well-crafted, and she uses a variety of sentence structures to keep the reader engaged.

Character Development and Relationships

McMillan excels at character development. Marilyn undergoes significant growth throughout the novel, and the reader is invested in her journey. The relationships in the novel are also well-developed, particularly the one between Marilyn and her grandchildren. McMillan does an excellent job of portraying the different dynamics at play in each relationship. For example, the relationship between Marilyn and her daughter is strained, but the relationship between Marilyn and her granddaughter is loving and supportive.

Exploration of Midlife Crisis and Self-Discovery

The Interruption of Everything” does an excellent job of exploring the midlife crisis that Marilyn experiences. She is forced to confront her stagnant life and make changes in order to find fulfillment. McMillan also highlights the importance of taking risks and trying new things in order to discover one’s true self. The novel also touches on the challenges of balancing work and family, and the pressure that women face to be perfect in both areas of their lives. Marilyn’s journey serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to make changes and pursue one’s passions.

Themes of Love and Loss

The novel also explores themes of love and loss. Marilyn reflects on the death of her mother and the impact it had on her life. She also grapples with the idea of losing her husband, Leon, and what that would mean for her. McMillan portrays the complexities of these emotions in a realistic and poignant way.


The Interruption of Everything” is a well-written and engaging novel that explores themes of midlife crisis, self-discovery, love, and loss. McMillan’s writing style and character development make the novel a worthwhile read for anyone looking for a relatable and thought-provoking story.

Terry McMillan’s Work

When it comes to exploring the complexities of love and relationships, few authors can match the depth and nuance of Terry McMillan’s work. Her novels have become beloved classics, with readers around the world eagerly devouring each new release. “The Interruption of Everything” is no exception, as it shares many similarities with McMillan’s other works.

One of the key themes that runs throughout McMillan’s novels is the importance of family dynamics. Whether it’s the close-knit relationships between siblings in “Waiting to Exhale” or the complicated bonds between mothers and daughters in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” McMillan has always had a keen eye for exploring the intricate web of emotions that exists within families. “The Interruption of Everything” is no exception, as it delves into the complexities of marriage and the challenges that come with raising a family.

At the heart of “The Interruption of Everything” is the story of Marilyn, a middle-aged woman who finds herself at a crossroads in her life. As she struggles to navigate the challenges of her marriage and the demands of her family, Marilyn begins to question whether she’s truly living the life she wants. It’s a powerful exploration of the idea of self-discovery, and one that sets “The Interruption of Everything” apart from McMillan’s other works.

Of course, there are also plenty of similarities between “The Interruption of Everything” and McMillan’s other novels. Like many of her works, this novel features a strong female protagonist who is navigating the complexities of her relationships with men. In Marilyn’s case, this means dealing with the challenges of her marriage to Leon, a man who is struggling with his own issues.

Despite these similarities, “The Interruption of Everything” also differs from McMillan’s previous works in some significant ways. For one thing, the novel is more light-hearted than her other works, which often deal with more serious subject matter. This is reflected in the book’s use of humor, which adds a playful tone to the story.

Finally, it’s worth noting that “The Interruption of Everything” showcases McMillan’s growth as a writer. Her writing style has evolved over the years, and this novel is a testament to her continued ability to captivate readers with her storytelling. Whether you’re a longtime fan of McMillan’s work or a newcomer to her writing, “The Interruption of Everything” is a must-read.


In conclusion, “The Interruption of Everything” is a well-written and engaging novel that explores themes such as midlife crisis, self-discovery, and family dynamics. McMillan’s writing style is relatable and humorous, and the characters are well-developed. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a heart-warming and uplifting read.

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Eddison Monroe
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