The Mothers by Brit Bennett
I kind of feel you have to have been hiding under a book rock not to have heard of The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This debut was highly anticipated. As I said in my post about Roxane Gay, this was one of the books that she read last year that she highly recommended. And after finishing it, I can totally see why. This book is beautifully written and tells the tale of three people that never stop affecting each other's lives.
The books main character is Nadia. She is the daughter of Marine and a mother that at the start of the novel has committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. This experience affects Nadia throughout her life. The book is set in Oceanside, California - a military town just north of San Diego. I grew up in San Diego, and am very familiar with the area - so, was glad to see so much of the places of my youth represented in the pages. But the real setting is the church, Upper Room, and the cast is the people that attend that church. Nadia, in high school, gets involved with Luke, the preachers son, gets pregnant and has an abortion. This is the second most formative event in Nadia's life - and becomes the one thing Luke is never able to get over. The third character, is Aubrey - an orphan in her own right that shows up in California to live with her sister, becomes a part of Upper Room and Nadia's best friend.
Overall the plot is very simple. These three people affect each others life over time and the all make choices do the the actions of one another - both known and unknown. I was very wrapped up in these three characters. I felt for them - and the emotional heft of the situations that Nadia goes through are so well said by Ms. Bennett that at times I had to put the book down. Aubrey also has a rough past - an abusive male in her life really changes who she is as a person. Ms. Bennnet can write sadness.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, the characters and their stories. The only thing that left me a little bit cold was the ending itself. The author leaves it a bit open - and at times this can really work. But in this case, it seemed as if she did not know what she wanted for the characters - so instead of making a choice she left it to us. This is Ms. Bennet's first novel - so I expect that with her immense talent that she well finish her next book more completely. But that being said, I would most certainly tell everyone to read this novel. Brit Bennett is an amazing new talent and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
Rating : 4 books