Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

This is the best book I have read in a long time.  The "mothers" in the title has many layered meanings.  First, it refers to the female elders of a church just outside San Diego which is frequented by the three main characters and their families.  But it also refers to seventeen year old Nadia Turner's mother who has just committed suicide when the story begins.  And it refers to her best friend, Aubrey's, mother who neglected her and turned a blind eye when she was the target of abuse by her mother's boyfriend.  It could also refer to Aubrey's older sister who takes her in when she finally leaves her abusive childhood behind and, who extends her care to Nadia when she is desperately in need of mothering.  It could also refer to Luke Sheppard's mother.  Luke, the pastor's son, is Nadia's hidden boyfriend when she is 17 and his mother's meddling arguably impacted both of their lives forever.  Finally, it can refer to Nadia and Aubrey themselves who have complicated relationships with motherhood as they age.

At 17, Luke and Nadia's relationship, and choices they make, lead to a secret that haunts everyone into adulthood.  The book follows Nadia, Luke and Aubrey through college and adulthood as their relationships with each other change and the secrets they've all kept begin to unravel.

The book is mostly written from Nadia's perspective, but there are occasional passages from the perspective of the church mothers which advance the narrative through the years and provide us with information that Nadia couldn't know.

I don't want to give much more information as it could spoil the secrets, but this is a fascinating look into complex relationships, particularly those between mothers and their children.  I highly recommend it.  The writing style is unique, but easy to read.  The characters are flawed but very human.  I was taken in right from the start.

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