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The Mothers: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2016: The Mothers is an absorbing and powerful novel about motherhood, female friendship and finding love with a broken heart. Brit Bennett will captivate you with her characters – who are hurting, flawed and trying to navigate the unsteady transition into adulthood. Seventeen year old Nadia Turner has her world turned upside down when her mother commits suicide and shortly thereafter, she discovers she’s pregnant with the pastor’s son’s child. Nadia finds a safe harbor in her best friend Aubrey, but as the years go by, her past decisions invade the present, ushering in a new wave of wounds. The Mothers ambitiously tackles heavy circumstances, but the hope of these young black women and Bennett’s ability to convey the ferocity of what it means have a mother, to be a mother, and to want a mother, make this novel a resoundingly magnetic and essential read. --Al Woodworth, The Amazon Book Review
"Ferociously moving. . .a lush book, a book of so many secrets, betrayal. . .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. . . I found myself reading not to find out what happens to the characters, but to find out who they are." –The New York Times Book Review
“Ms. Bennett allows her characters to follow their worst impulses, and she handles provocative issues with intelligence, empathy and dark humor. Her risk-taking pays off.” –The New York Times
"[A] compelling debut." –The New Yorker
"Delivers lines that you'll want to savor and read out loud — because it's a story about secrets and betrayals, and part of the pleasure is your own sighs and gasps. It's both intimate and epic in scope. . .It hums along at a brisk, emotional pace — the kind of story that feels like it's moving fast, but really, it's moving deep." –NPR
[Bennett’s] storytelling does what all truly good fiction does: it draws you in and, on a universal level, connects with you and makes you think. . .The Mothers is a thought-provoking novel that will resonate long after it is read.” –USA Today
"A fantastic debut novel. . .Some novels take place as you read them, while others grow more complicated as you think back on them. Bennett has written that rare combination: a book that feels alive on the page and rich for later consideration. . .Bennett is a writer to watch." –The Washington Post
"One of the most exciting debuts of the fall." –LA Times
"Luminous. . .engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss." –People
"[A] striking debut. . .America needs more books like The Mothers, which quietly, but critically, deepens our appreciation of the black experience, and expands our collective understanding of what it means now to be growing up and grasping for direction and affection." –O Magazine
"With echoes of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, The Mothers is not your typical coming-of-age novel: It begins with Nadia’s abortion, an experience often absent from our culture’s stories, and goes on to look at how women step in to nurture – and sometimes betray – one another." –Vogue
"Brit Bennett comes charging out of Oceanside, California, with her stunning debut, The Mothers, a refreshingly fast-paced story of young love, race, and religious hypocrisy." –Vanity Fair
"Bennett’s hypnotic writing hooks you from the very beginning and never lets you go in this spine-tingling study of destiny." –Essence
"The Mothers isn’t about the consequences of decisions, but the repercussions of keeping secrets. . .funny, generous, and brightly written." –GQ
"The Mothers is a beautifully written, sad and lingering book – an impressive debut for such a young writer." –The Guardian
"A magical and startlingly realistic account of how powerfully our pasts can haunt us into adulthood—no matter how far we try to run from home." –Harper’s Bazaar
"Gripping. . .the twenty-first century answer to Toni Morrison’s Sula. . .displays the same complexity in its portrayal of a pair of girlfriends as they grow together, and then apart, in a tight-knit African American community." –Elle
"As much as THE MOTHERS is steeped in black culture, it’s also pointedly, poignantly universal in its depiction of young love and friendship and hard choices. Maybe that qualifies as revolutionary, or maybe it’s just a really good novel, one that makes all the mess and magic of being young feel both new and familiar in the best kind of way." –Entertainment Weekly
"Stunning… this heartbreaking coming of age tale takes a brutally honest look at how the decisions of our past can haunt us well into adulthood, no matter how far we try to distance ourselves." – Real Simple
"As her flawed, lovable characters make decisions they regret and deal with the consequences, Bennett unravels their tangled lives with a devastating elegance." –The Houston Chronicle
“[An] extraordinary novel, which mines human relationships so deeply and with such empathy… powerful.” –The Boston Globe
"A bracing, heartfelt debut about family, motherhood and friendship, grief and healing and how all of these elements and our own shaky decisions constantly reshape our lives." –The Miami Herald
"Shows remarkable confidence, flair and wisdom." –Seattle Times
“Don’t keep this beautifully written coming-of-age story to yourself.” —Newsday
“Bennett’s evocation of the way her characters are haunted by their families’ pasts, her depiction of unbridled, damaging passion, and her masterful orchestration of different voices are techniques reminiscent of the great Toni Morrison.” –Dallas Morning News
"What [Bennett] has done is fulfill the both simple and impossibly difficult mandate of any storyteller: to create a world her readers believe in and care about and draw meaning from…Extraordinary…You should be reading it." –Brooklyn Magazine
"The book tells its biggest secret right away. But what happens after is more interesting. Think: the small-town drama of "Friday Night Lights" and the 'what ifs' of "Sliding Doors."–The Skimm
"Amid roiling arguments about privilege, appropriation, and race, the 26-year-old writer — author of essays on all of the above — has written a first novel exactly for its time." –Vulture
"A smart, insightful story about the unique ways in which women need one another, the ways only women are capable of hurting each other, and how a decision you make when you're young can ripple like a bullet through the rest of your life — whether you regret it, or not." –Refinery29
"The sad beauty of. . .The Mothers [is that] the characters’ pasts and deeper desires may be obfuscated by time. . . The Mothers brims with psychological insight and thoughtful commentary on the pain of loss and what motivates us to take actions maligned with our beliefs." –Huffington Post
"Brit Bennett is so bracingly talented on the page. . . [The Mothers is] astute and absorbing and urgent." –Jezebel
“A masterwork of modern fiction.” –Fusion
"Bennett's masterful first novel takes the reader on a multidimensional exploration of the things we desire and the things we settle for, what cements loyalties and what justifies betrayal." –Blavity
"Brilliant. . .poignant, yet lovely. . .The Mothers is one of those novels you truly don’t want to put down." –LitHub
“Bennett illuminates [her characters’] psychologies with the same delicate sense of economy, probing for the ways that their experiences produce complex emotional states only a fraction of which are known to one another — or even to themselves.” – The Millions
"Extraordinary. . .Bennett broke my heart with this novel, with her investigation of friendship, secrets, love, choice and forgiveness." –Electric Literature
"The Mothers is a quiet, beautiful text. . .As a reader, it is easy to trust where Bennett is taking you. Surrender is necessary, but with someone who can craft stories as skillfully as she can, it isn’t painful." –The Rumpus
"Brit Bennett is the real thing. The Mothers is a stellar novel — moving, thoughtful. Stunning. I couldn’t put it down. I’m so excited to have this brilliant new voice in the world." –Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn
"Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers has stayed with me since I first read it, the words and the intimacy of the prose seeping into my pores… There is a real tenderness to how Bennett tells this story and to how she writes these characters who are so richly fleshed out, so unbearably human." –Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State
"What haunted me the most about this novel was the way it made a presence out of absence. It gave nothingness teeth and weaponized shadows. I thought I was escaping the current political climate, but I wasn’t. Part of what makes The Mothers a stunning novel is its exploration of kinship and primary bonds. Our relationship to country is as fraught as our relationship to kin." –Carrie Brownstein, author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
"Brit Bennett's masterful debut is brimming with unforgettable scenes and the sort of keenly-observed, precise language that makes you look at your own relationships anew. Told with the wisdom of a seasoned, compassionate storyteller, The Mothers is a novel about community, friendship, grief and growth. The two women at the center of this novel are characters you will find yourself thinking about long after you've turned the last page-- they pull you in close and never let you go. Bennett is a brilliant and much-needed new voice in literature." –Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award-finalist The Turner House
"Brit Bennett’s The Mothers is a brilliant exploration of friendship, desire, inheritance, the love we seek, and the love we settle for. It is the kind of book that from its first page seduces you into knowing that the heartbreak coming will be worth it." –Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
"Brit Bennett’s The Mothers is an engaging and assured debut novel of depth, and introspective power. It succeeds as a brilliant study of a modern black woman, and as a lyrical and majestic portrait of her place in society." –Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen
"Wonderful – warm and tender and necessary." –Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing
"Conveys the complexities and challenges of young love with refreshing honesty and beautiful sentences. I cared about Brit Bennett's characters, and the choices they made, and couldn’t stop reading this remarkable debut." –Vendela Vida, author of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty
"How do I start to describe The Mothers? Visceral? Riveting? Heart-wrenching? In the end this novel is all three and then some… Each line that Bennett produces cracks open with more intensity in order to ask over and over again: What if? The past and the present converge with each blossoming subplot until you begin to wonder what "mistakes" you've made in the past that changed your future, and whether or not you will have to grapple with them. The Mothers is a rollercoaster ride that picks up very quickly even while maintaining its complexity as it moves through the interwoven journeys of Brit Bennett's unforgettable characters." –Morgan Jerkins, Book of the Month
Top Customer Reviews
The Mothers is the story of seventeen years old Nadia Turner who is grieving the death of her mother. The pain is all the more acute as her mother didn’t die a natural death. She’d committed suicide. Set in Oceanside, CA, this is also the story of Luke, who is the son of the local church’s pastor. Then there is Aubrey Evans, with whom Nadia shares a common bond. They are both without mothers. But in Aubrey’s case, her mother didn’t die. She’s motherless because her mother chose to be. And the two girls also share one thing in common – Luke, with whom both fall in love at different point of time.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a deeply moving story which centres around this trio of teenagers and follow them till their mid-twenties - through high school, college and into adulthood. What makes the book really engaging is the difficult choices each have to make, and how it will shape their lives. The author crafted a brilliant story with nuanced characters, allowing delicate shades of meaning to be appreciated. It is a riveting, heart-wrenching and moving story about mothers, and motherhood with many readers likely to relate themselves to the situations and characters in the story.Read more ›
The book focuses on three teens: Nadia, whose mother killed herself for unknown reasons, her boyfriend Luke, and her best friend Aubrey who is pious and estranged from her own mother. The title of the book is very apt, because this book deals with all kinds of mothers: mothers who left, mothers who were left, wannabe mothers, and a Greek chorus of older church-going mothers who judgmentally comment on the goings-on in the community.
The Greek chorus, using the third person “we”, has been used successfully by Jeffrey Eugenides in Virgin Suicides and in Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, among others. When used effectively – as it is here – it’s a powerful tool. And there’s no doubt that Brit Bennett can tell a good story.
The premise of that story is found in a blurb on her book jacket –“must we always live in servitude to the decisions of our youngest selves, and to the communities that have parented us.” To buy into that premise, as presented by Ms. Bennett, we must believe this: that an abortion, at age 17, is so extraordinarily emotionally traumatic that it overshadows future accomplishments and relationships and causes someone to act compulsively enough to betray a sister-of-the-heart and one’s own deeply-held values.
One example: here's Nadia, ruminating obsessively about the fetus she aborted. "Baby, no longer a baby, now a toddler, reaching and grabbing. Pulling at her earrings until she unhooks his chubby fingers. Baby hungry always for her face.Read more ›
The story is centers around Nadia, who at age 17 has a relationship with Luke, the 21 year old son of the local preacher. Nadia falls hard for Luke and Luke for her. After a small bit, Nadia finds herself pregnant with Luke's baby and decides to have an abortion. Luke leaves her at the abortion clinic.
The story continues for years following Nadia and Luke. The story is filled with secrets, regret, hurt, and the ripples that continue to happen. Part of the story is told through the church mothers, who open most of the chapters with their gossip. They share their thoughts and feelings which are often judgmental and you can hear the *tsks* as they tell the story.
This isn't a book where much happens, but it is about the hurt that comes from lies and from regrets that we all have. Nadia and Luke make a mistake that will last decades into their lives. It is like a giant cloud that hangs over them and all their future relationships especially because Nadia made the choice without Luke's input. Luke also must recognize his choice has an impact on his parents and their ministry. They play a part in Luke's decisions as well.
This book has a lot of hype around it and it is completely true. I even went in with a small grumble that it won't be a book for me, but I became convinced only a few pages in. Bennett sets a great tone for the whole book and doesn't let up. I loved it so much, I read it in a day. Read this one.
I gave this one 5 stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book as a gift so I didn't read it. However, the person receiving the gift loved it. The book itself was in excellent condition.Published 2 days ago by S. Goodenough
A beautifully written book about love and betrayal. The characters are well developed and you want to learn more about them because you feel a connection. Read morePublished 7 days ago by D.O.
Another one of those books where I've marked so many little things I love so much & keeping them to myself bc I'm not ready to share them yet. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Leesa Cross-Smith
The plot ended too quickly. Reader has to guess at a resolution. Interesting description of inner circles of women in church groups, especially in a small town.Published 8 days ago by joy a snyder