The suicide of Nadia Turner’s mom has left Nadia distraught, to say the least. Her acting out leads to a fling with Luke, the minister’s son, and that leads to Nadia being pregnant. That alone is enough to stir up the Upper Room Church, but when she decides to terminate the pregnancy, that is either much better or way worse, depending on whether you’re talking publicly or privately. Somehow Nadia gets a job at the church office, working for Luke’s mom. And when the quiet and quirkily observant Aubrey shows up, they wind up being friends, well before they know each other well, and certainly long before their relationship gets even more complicated. Bennett’s characters ponder their identities, in terms of race, gender, belief system, all with a distinctive and vibrant San Diego setting and a Greek chorus of church ladies having their say. The Mothers is a passionate and nuanced novel about love, friendship, choices, and of course, mothering.
— Daniel Goldin
October 2016 Indie Next List
“The 'mothers' of this book's title refers to the gaggle of elderly churchgoing women who comment on the congregation around them, especially the trio of Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey. But The Mothers is about more than that -- it refers to the concept of motherhood, whether real, lost, aborted, adoptive, or conflicted. The three young people at the heart of this story are all flawed, but their portrayals are realistic and they are easy for readers to support. This is a book about salvation -- not the spiritual salvation that the gossiping, but well-intentioned mothers seek, but the kind that comes with self-acceptance and growth. The Mothers is an honest, modern, and triumphant book.”
— Jamie Thomas (E), Women & Children First, Chicago, IL
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize Finalist
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction Finalist
An NPR Best Book of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016
A Vogue Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
One of Elle.com's Best Books of the Year
"Ferociously moving ... despite Bennett's thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it's the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book's urgency." -The New York Times Book Review
"Luminous... engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss." -People, Pick of the Week
"Fantastic... a book that feels alive on the page." -The Washington Post
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.
About the Author
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. She is one of the National Book Foundation's 2016 5 Under 35 honorees.