The Mothers by Brit Bennett

PUBLISHED BY Riverhead Books October 11, 2016
GENRE: Adult Fiction
PAGES: 278
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Purchased
PACING: {5/5}

"Oh girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more." ~ Brit Bennett, The Mothers


I am so excited about this post because this is the first book review for the Brown Girl Reads section of my blog. I don't think there is a whole lot of representation of people of color in the publishing industry in general so I plan on highlighting authors, artists, other bloggers/vloggers of color as well. This section is NOT anti-other "races". I read all kinds stories written by authors of different ethnicities and backgrounds. This section is to showcase more diversity in the book community which is necessary.

Ok let's discuss shall we!! Yes I have another review up so quickly. Can you believe it? I buddy read The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This time with my good friend Polly @pollyandbooks I absolutely love this story. As a woman of color, I love the cultural references that breed such  familiarity to the African American experience, particularly growing up in a predominantly African American church. Check the synopsis below.


Synopsis:

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. 


From the title of this book and in the beginning of the story, I initially thought 'The Mothers' only referred to the elders in the Upper Room church. However, as the story unfolded I realized that the title also included two of the main characters as well, Nadia is fiesty as well as defiant and Aubrey is a God fearing, clean cut churchy girl. This story really centers around their relationship, secrets and betrayal between the two them as well as how they develop in the midst of it.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is that the mothers of the church, the ones that hold true to more "religion" than spirituality through their judgement and condemnation of the decisions of the young people around them, actually hold secrets themselves; forgetting a time where the decisions they made were judged by the generation before them. The Mothers don't believe in hard love. They are old fashioned and believe it is the woman's job to keep quiet and love softly. They keep a huge secret, but seem to justify it under the guise of the bible; of what they deem the rules of Christianity and the church. Nadia's father, the pastor of the church, forced Nadia to have an abortion when she was a teenager. He was more concerned about his image, not appearing to be hypocrite and the image of the church than the mental well being of his daughter having to experience such a traumatic thing at a young age. However, this secret is revealed in the end which causes the subsequent collapse of the church. The father of her baby was Luke.

Luke is as rebellious as he is coy as he is selfish, but he is Nadia's soul tie. They were forever connected to one another even when Luke ends up marrying Nadia's friend Aubrey, they begin an affair. Even as Luke's wife, Aubrey could not connect with him the way Nadia did. They even struggled to have a child and as Aubrey struggled with that, Nadia struggled with constant daydreams of what life would've been like as a mother. She carried that pain with her always.

“Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip. ” ~ Brit Bennett, The Mothers
 

 While Nadia was galavanting around with her friend's husband, Nadia gets pregnant, but knew about her friend and her husbands torrid love affair. Aubrey confronts Nadia towards the end of this story. This is when a purge of emotion truly begins between them and all truths are put of the table. This story is definitely salacious and scandalous, but I believe the core of this story questions how morality is defined; how people view what's "right" and "wrong"; how things like infidelity and abortion are dealt with particularly in the "black" church. I loved the pacing of this story and that Bennett was not afraid to tackle such hot button and controversial topics. I'd add this one to your TBR!

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ {4/5}