The Mothers is one of those debut books that makes an aspiring writer like me want to hug it to my chest then throw up my arms in surrender. It’s so enchanting, it almost seems like there’s no hope for the rest of us. We should all put down our pencils and just read Brit Bennett for the rest of our lives. But even in trying to hate it, I can’t. It’s too beautiful, too idiosyncratic, too organic, too poignant. Have I gushed enough yet? I can’t stop though; it’s just really good.
The story revolves around a close-knit, sometimes claustrophobic black church community in Southern California. Nadia Turner, a senior at the local high school, is reeling from the loss of her mother. Without this anchor, she rebels against her father and rejects the friends and parties of her former life, seeking solace in a passionate relationship with Luke Sheppard, the older former-high-school-football star. But when Nadia gets pregnant and has an abortion, their relationship crumbles. Nadia tries to move on from this devastating decision, hiding the secret from everyone, including her new best friend, Aubrey. But as the years pass and the three young people grow into themselves and into new lives, they must all face the consequences of decisions made long ago.
While the story can sound heartbreaking – and in some ways it is – I never felt like Bennett was manipulating my emotions. It was simply a story with pain and happiness, ups and downs. It’s thoughtful, keenly felt, and deftly composed.
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