It’s 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 manoeuvre and dogged by the constant, nagging question: what if they had chosen differently?
I actually finished this book extremely angry.
Why did I not read this sooner?
After reading ‘The Vanishing Half‘, I should have known what to expect. Brit Bennett’s writing left me astounded in that book so why did I think The Mothers would be any different. I doubted Bennett’s incredible writing. I wasn’t sure whether The Mothers would live up to expectation I had of Bennett’s writing in my head.
I was so very wrong.
Brit Bennett wrote a novel that was much more than a simple ‘love triangle’. Weaved into this were love and grief. Regret and passion. Dreams and reality. Life as it should be. The dark and the good parts of it. How you can run from things or face it head-on. I’m not sure how you incorporate all of that into one novel but Brit Bennett did it.
“Sometimes the glory was in rebuilding the broken thing, not the result but the process of trying.”
Nadia, Luke and Aubrey were a love story that was beautifully written. You could feel each of their pain from grief, sports injuries, trauma and much more. Yet, their love for each other was complicated but so beautiful in places. You didn’t want to choose your favourite couple. You just wanted to see them all happy. I felt all of their hopes and dreams being held back by the past. By what could have been.
“Maybe you didn’t know who you would be in the world. Maybe you were a different person everywhere you lived.”
We all do it. We make a decision but often wonder what would have happened if you had chosen differently. But what we don’t realise is how that can consume us. How we become obsessed with what might have been instead of living in the now…in the present with what we have in front of us.
I think that’s why I really loved Nadia’s character. Although I disagreed with a lot of her actions towards her family, her independent actions and decisive nature was truly something I advocated for. She was grieving and i think she was a true representation of someone who has lost someone extremely close to them. Nadia seemed to be living for her mother and doing everything her mother wanted to do when she was younger before she became pregnant with Nadia. There’s alot to be said about Nadia’s actions in regards to her mother but I don’t want to ruin anything about this novel.
I have to talk about Bennett’s portrayal of the church. How it can be a safe haven and a place of judgement all at once? For Aubrey, it was her place of protection and where she felt most safe. For Nadia, it was the opposite. She felt judged by all those that had known her mother and even for the actions she made after.
The way the church has treated issues like abortion is something that comes up repeatedly in media. Especially with their treatment of young girls. Brit Bennett did a good job of portraying how The Church can really hurt you as it’s meant to be a community that doesn’t judge and supports you in every way possible.
I liked the chorus of The Mothers, showing how they judged each character. At times, it did leave me a little confused and it took me a while to work out who was talking. It’s probably my only criticism about this book.
“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.”
I especially liked how Brit Bennett dealt with grief and how it can be all-consuming when you lose someone you love so suddenly. The loss you feel. The pain and even, the hurt. The regret for all the things you didn’t say but wish you did. She handled it so beautifully…so elegantly.
I loved The Mothers, perhaps more than The Vanishing Half. Is there even a question about whether this will make my top ten of 2021?
I guess we’ll have to see
More books by Brit Bennett