The Mothers by Brit Bennett

brit

Book Blurb from Goodreads.com:

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

My Review:

The story centers around three young adults growing up in Southern California.

Nadia Turner is a seventeen year old senior in high school.  She has been accepted to study at the University of Michigan.  She is grieving the death of her mother who committed suicide six months ago. Nadia becomes involves with twenty-one year old Luke Sheppard. He is the son of the preacher at the local chapel. They have a secret romance, and Nadia finds herself pregnant. During employment at the local chapel, Aubrey Evans becomes Nadia’s best friend. She has moved to the area to live with her sister, leaving behind a difficult family situation.  Nadia and Aubrey share a common motherless bond. We follow their relationship from the adolescent years to adulthood. This wonderful novel explores friendships, secrets, loss and shame.

The book is narrated in part by the elderly women, or “mothers” of the church.  These women keep track of the gossip from the Upper Room Chapel where these families congregate.  

The Mothers is a story about people and how life happens while we are living it. A main point that I took away from the book is that when we withhold information, feelings can get hurt and damage the relationships we cherish. Decisions or errors that we make in the formative years can creep up on us later in life. We aren’t without flaws.

I did not want to put the book down, so the laundry in my house did not get folded for a few days. This is a debut novel. I am thrilled that another novel is in the works.

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