The Mothers (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

It is Nadia Turner’s final year of high school in a small, religious, largely black community in Southern California. She lives alone with her father, following her mother's recent suicide. Grief-stricken, she seeks refuge in the friendship of the local pastor's son, and gets pregnant. The decisions and actions that follow have a far-flung impact on Nadia, her relationship to her community and those close to her, and her own sense of identity. In a political climate that groups so many people into hard and fast categories, this novel is sorely needed. Nadia is many things: she is a young black woman, a lover, a mourner, and a scholar. She is eternally connected to the "mothers" who came before her (and whose narratives punctuate the novel) but also seeks to forge her own path into the future. Bennett's masterful narration makes us see human identity as multifarious and complicated, that each and every one of us are products of our own unique histories, heritages, tragedies, and dreams, and that by accepting every part of ourselves we can become more compassionate people.

— From Margaret's Picks



"Bittersweet, sexy, morally fraught." -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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780399184512
ISBN-10: 0399184511
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Pages: 288
Language: English