Updated: Jan 30, 2020
TITLE: Nappily Ever After
AUTHOR: Trisha R. Thomas
PUBLISHED DATE: December 5, 2000
I read this book years ago...but I sure found time to hurry up and read it before the movie comes out on Netflix on September 21. I remembered vaguely that the protagonist had done a big chop when her boyfriend didn't marry her. A fresh re-read was unnecessary as so many of the details were omitted from the movie.
Years ago, I'd rated this book a 3 on Goodreads, and after a fresh reading, it's still a 3. For as much as this book gets right, it gets so wrong, and even that is watered down by the movie.
Venus is a 35-year-old marketing executive who's been dating a resident doctor for four years. When instead of proposing to her he gives her a dog, Venus has an identity crisis. For her, she comes to question the time, money and attention spent on her hair. For her, like many black women, her hair had different meanings at various stages of her life. As a child, her hair symbolized her mother's parenting skills. As a young woman, her beauty was in competition with other women. At 35 in the midst of a relationship, she felt she was the perfect black woman with perfect hair, fashion sense, and looks and that her doctor-in-training, Clint, should propose.
What she doesn't know is that Clint has his own marriage issues going back to his own childhood. All of this is erased from the movie. So is the fact that Clint genuinely loves her bald head and all. So is Candy...The bodacious long-haired woman with her own ideas of class and status and how that ties into her hair and her competition with Venus. They also dropped the sexual and racial harassment Venus/Violet faces at work. This could have been incredibly powerful now in the midst of the #MeToo movement.
Another thing I noticed about the movie, is that after Violet/Venus cuts her hair, she becomes dowdier and less sure of herself. With her weave, she is faux bubbly, always adorned in something pink and fitted - her imitation of Barbie. Once she ditches the hair, she becomes a whole different, albeit frumpier, person. I'd have like to have seen more joy...not just the twerk scene which was fantastic....but in her being. I don't think that translated. In the book, after Venus/Violet gets over the shock of cutting her hair, she starts owning her natural beauty. She starts preaching to her friends. They added additional characters to the movie...the girl with natural hair and her father. Also added was an awkward white friend who possibly had two lines.
Recommendation: Both the movie and the book are....aight... The book is better, but you should still support both.
Audience: Grown Folks