Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: unplanned pregnancy, abortion, religion, suicide, adultery.
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
The Mothers was an impulse buy from Half Priced Books, as the almost new book was just $2 on clearance. For such a deal and with an intriguing cover/jacket description, I decided to give it a chance.
The novel immediately grabbed my attention as introductions were made to Nadia Turner, a seventeen year old who struggled with the grief of losing her mother to suicide. Rebelling against her traditional upbringing, Nadia starts to skip school, party a little too much, and starts dating the pastor’s son, Luke Sheppard, in secrecy. Unfortunately, their trysts get real when Nadia finds out she’s pregnant. Nadia, determined to head to Michigan State in the fall and to get from it all, tells Luke that she’s going to get an abortion.As soon as the decision is made, they know that their lives will forever be haunted by “what ifs”. What if they had kept the baby? What if they stayed together?
As Nadia attempts to bury the whole ordeal, she befriends a girl named Aubrey, who has her own hidden past and secrets. They form a bond, almost like sisters, but as the summer comes to a close, Nadia heads to Michigan and barely looks back. Aubrey and Nate are each left to wrestle with Nadia’s decisions and her impact on their lives.
Bennett has written a thought-provoking novel exploring the affects of abortion, what it means to be a mother, and the turmoil of keeping secrets in relationships. Through the characters’ growth and inner dialogues, the readers get to understand multiple perspectives on motherhood- the biological mothers, the environmental ones- and how each perspective can be validated.
Without skirting the issue, I’ll say this- I think this novel may appear to lean pro-life, but my interpretation is that Bennett tried to remain pro-choice, but allowed her characters to provide opinions from all aspects (pro life, pro choice, pro-lifers who exempt certain abortions, etc.) I appreciated the different aspects of her characters and there were a few aspects that I hadn’t thought of, that Bennett allowed me to see through her characters.
Overall, I enjoyed the quick pace of the novel, the contemporary writing style, and the multiple view points from the characters. At just under 300 pages, The Mothers adds diversity and controversy to anyone’s routine reading. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more novels by Bennett.
Published: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Riverhead Books
TL/DR: The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a contemporary novel about family, relationships, and what it means to be a mother.
Read it? Yes!
Recommend it? Absolutely.
Buy it? Since this is a backlist novel, it should be pretty inexpensive to find a copy (like mine that I got on clearance) but I know my library carries an audiobook of this too, so you should be able to find a copy in the library.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
- This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel