Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
This past Friday I decided that my weekend read was going to be unplanned, that I was going to allow myself to dig through my shelves and baskets and piles of books and pick something to read on a whim. When I got to my stack of Book of the Month Club titles, The Mothers was calling my name. And holy wow, I am so glad that I answered.
I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers lately, so I was looking forward to the change of pace that this book had to offer. Unlike the crashing waves of the thriller experience, this was more like sitting in a unmoving boat as another goes barreling past; no tsunami coming to knock you under, but you definitely need to hold on to your hat.
The Mothers is a highly emotional experience featuring perfectly flawed characters. Their emotions spill from these pages and soak their way into your veins, and you can’t help but feel everything on a visceral level. They’re all so focused on that one decision, the one that had such a reverberating effect on each of their lives and the “what if” of having chosen differently.
I highly recommend this book. I thought it was a phenomenal debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what Bennett will give us next. If you’re a Book of the Month Club member, add it to your next box. If you’re a loyal library patron, get your name on the hold list. If you’re a book buyer, snag it from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or your vendor/book store of choice ASAP.
About Brit Bennett (from her website): Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.