The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Originally posted May 2017

I gotta admit — i am a little emotionally spent after reading “The Mothers.”

Interesting this, author Brit Bennett‘s first novel, would come on the heels of “Motherprayer,” in which Barbara Mahany makes the case for mothers of all kinds. Because in this novel, the Mothers are everywhere.

Nadia Turner is looking for a mother in all the wrong places. At 17, she finds herself adrift when her own mother inexplicably ends her own life. Her dad, Robert, throws himself into the church, and she throws herself at any boy that’ll pay a little attention. And it’s in a crummy seafood restaurant that she connects with Luke Sheppard, a local here on the football field until an injury ends his collegiate career. Oh — and he’s the pastor’s kid. So he has a whole set of issues all his own.

One thing leads to another, and Nadia finds herself telling Luke there’s a baby on the way, or not. She’s got plans — a college scholarship represents a one-way ticket out of a past she wants to forget. And Luke doesn’t want to get in her way. But what’s not expected is Luke’s action and reaction and the toll it takes on their loves for years to come.

Nadia is now a motherless child and a childless mother. Her best friend Aubrey has a mother that chooses abusive boyfriends over her own children. Luke’s mom likes to play mother to others. And then there are the “Mothers” at church. The ones that see and know all and let their gossip get the best of them in the long run.

There’s so much to dissect here. Mrs. Sheppard’s treatment of Nadia. The evolving relationship between Nadia and her father. How the most important revelations aren’t declared in the open — they’re often discovered hidden behind the quiet of a doorway or darkened room.

The triangle that is Luke, Aubrey and Nadia is electric, making for a most compelling read. With so much to talk about, it’s also great book club fodder. You’ll be turning the characters over in your head long after the last page is turned.

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