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The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

The Mothers: A Novel

by Brit Bennett

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Lots of emotional relationships woven into this story that were well written and rang true. However, I just felt like something was lacking, something didn't quite pull together. Still well worth the read. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jun 17, 2017 |
This engaging story centers around a nearly hidden African American church in California called Upper Room where there are few secrets in the community because of the closeness of the mothers in the congregation who spread stories like wildfire, whether they are true or not.

Bennett convincingly describes how two teens, Nadia and Aubrey, who could not be more different, become best friends because they have one thing in common: Neither Nadia nor Aubrey have a mother. The two girls with their damaged interiors become entangled in interesting and sometimes predictable ways with the pastor's son, Luke, a formal football hero who wears his damage externally. The girls' relationships with each other and with Luke and his parents, the pastor and First Lady, are the catalysts for the girls' metamorphoses. Nadia has a scholarship to Michigan and cares little for her hometown or anyone, enjoying bar hopping with a fake ID, and going through boyfriends like glasses of water. Aubrey attends every service at Upper Room, shows no interest in leaving town, and wears a purity ring to demonstrate her chastity. Luke, and to some extent his parents' actions, change Nadia and Aubrey as much as Nadia and Aubrey change each other.

The themes of abandonment and hanging onto secrets and how those two things shape your life and choices are beautifully handled by Bennett. Nadia and Aubrey handle them in opposite ways.

Both girls as they become women experience betrayal. Bennett deals with betrayal as a gray area unlike in a soap opera or a beach paperback. Neither Nadia nor Aubrey cut the perpetrator out of their lives. Instead, the reader is filled with emotion for the women and even sympathy for the person who betrayed them as they struggle to find peace with their choices.

In a beautiful passage that ties all the mothers in the book together, Bennett sums up Nadia and Aubrey's grief at being motherless: "The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains."

This is a beautiful book. It was close to a five star book for me, but there were a few places where the relationships Luke had were predictable. The ending was not predictable taking the novel completely out of the realm of beach paperbacks. I look forward to reading more of Bennett's work. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
Nadia Turner is still grieving the suicide death of her mother and is only 17 when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant by the pastor's son. A high school senior with a scholarship to the University of Michigan, Nadia knows that her future can only happen if she has an abortion, which she seeks out with Luke's financial assistance but without telling her father. Nadia leaves soon after, abandoning her best friend, Aubrey, and her father, in search of a new life. Years later, Nadia returns to her church family and friends to face her history and the secrets she left behind. Told by the church "mothers" from a third person perspective, this is a coming-of-age novel about choices and loss and the price paid for keeping secrets from the ones you love most.

I really enjoyed this novel and it was a huge hit with our book club. It's a good book to debate the choices the characters made and other emotionally-charged themes, such as race, religion, and choice. ( )
  voracious | May 31, 2017 |
If I spend time thinking about the characters after I’ve read the book, it has made an impact on me. The Mothers did just that. As “the mothers” of the church watched the pastor’s family and members of the church, a lot was seen, but much was missed. As elderly women they’d seen a lot of living and death. Their observations as they watched the pastor’s son, a young girl grow up after having her mother commit suicide and a young girl abandoned by her mother, they reflect back on their lives. Told from the perspectives of the young people and well as the mothers, the church becomes a living place providing solace for some and confusion for others. ( )
  brangwinn | May 27, 2017 |
Nadia Turner, age 17, is still reeling from her mother's suicide, when she discovers that she's pregnant. The story then follows Nadia, her then-boyfriend Luke, and her friend Aubrey through the next several years of their lives, as they grow close, grow apart, discover each other & themselves, and make choices which affect not only themselves but each other. In the background are "The Mothers", a group of older women of the church who casually observe the happenings between these three main characters.

It wasn't until I finished this book that I truly appreciated the title, for the word "mother" refers to many different people & situations throughout the story. I wouldn't say I loved this book, but I did enjoy it and found the writing impressive, especially for a debut novel. The ending was a bit abrupt and I found that somewhat disappointing, but the novel as a whole should yield good book club discussion. ( )
  indygo88 | May 26, 2017 |
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For Mom, Dad, Brianna, and Jynna
First words
We didn't believe when we first heard because you know how church folk can gossip.
Could you be nostalgic for a friendship that wasn't over yet or did the fact that you were nostalgic mean that it already was?
The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.
She wanted this baby and that was the difference: magic you wanted was a miracle, magic you didn't want was a haunting.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399184511, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 19 May 2016 16:25:55 -0400)

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