Mothers: A Novel, The

Brit Bennett
One of Buzzfeed's "21 New Books You Need to Read this Fall"One of The Millions' "Most Anticipated" for the second half of 2016"Brit Bennett is a brilliant and much-needed new voice in literature." -Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award-finalist The Turner HouseA 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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-01-02
So much hype. Nadia is dealing with the end of high school and her mother's suicide. She gets in a relationship with Luke, a former football star who is now waiting tables. Their relationship culminates in a child that Nadia chooses to abort. This decision will have ramifications that will come back to haunt the two of them and the people they know in the years to come. Or something.
 
The book has been widely touted by various outlets as an amazing work that is up for consideration/has won various awards. Why that is remains a complete mystery to me. Yes, there are some beautiful lines and initially the story seemed quite intriguing. But it just seemed like the author did not have anything to say, and dressed up the story to hide between the sometimes nice writing.
 
I do think some of the criticism about the book over Nadia's choice is unwarranted (come on, it's not like women don't face this decision every day and it's not like they don't make the same decisions she does) and was a perfectly fine story to explore. The problem, as other reviews point out, is that it's a well-worn story without anything new or even interesting to say. Young woman dealing with turbulence meets a young man dealing with some of the same. She gets pregnant, decides to have an abortion and tries to move on with her life.
 
Aside from this the title is also puzzling. Initially I had assumed (because I chose not to read too many reviews/summaries to avoid building expectations) was that Nadia would be one of the mothers of the title. Instead they serve as a sort of Greek chorus commenting on the story and narrating the events for the reader. Not a bad device but not used effectively here.
 
I wouldn't recommend this one. This was one of those books that I hesitated on because of the initial hype and the story didn't grab me. If the tale is appealing to you, give it a shot. Otherwise don't read it because of the hype.
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