The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (October 11, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 8/10
Reading Sara Review: I was nervous about reading The Mothers because of the incredible buzz it has received lately – and I am often disappointed by those books. This one was a great exception to that! I loved it.
The Mothers is a debut novel by Bennett, but her writing style is that of an old soul. I look forward to reading many more books by her in the future.
The book follows Nadia Turner, who grows up within a contemporary black community in Southern California. The characters all revolve around the church, the Upper Room, where their secrets reside. Nadia is dealt a tough hand and has to make impossible decisions for her future and ambitions. The summer before she leaves for college her mother commits suicide, and Nadia starts sleeping with the pastor’s son, an older boy who had his own ambitions shattered years ago. What happens between them lasts their entire lives and impacts those around them and within the community more than expected. Luke, the pastor’s son, is as much of a lead character as Nadia.
What I loved about The Mothers was the “what if” question – their lives are defined by a couple of decisions, a couple of secrets, but what if those did not exist? Would that have made life simpler? Or harder?
Another thing to love about this book is that it deals with some incredibly dark issues, but it does so in a real and moving way. The way that Nadia deals with grief is heartbreaking but completely realistic. Her mother’s suicide is never completely dealt with, not talked about with anyone in a healing way. This impacts her forever. This grief affects her friendships, relationships, and ultimately hurts the two most significant people she has in her life. Because Nadia is smart and pretty, she floats through without her grief on the outside. This is so unbelievably common for girls and women.
Nadia is loveable and hateable at the same time. Luke is confusing, frustrating and wonderful. This book, though, it is consistently great.