The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Wow you guys. This book.

It’s pretty fair to say that I actually didn’t know much of what this book was about. It’s been on my radar for ages, and the excitement of basically everyone on the internet exploded when it came out last week, so I had to go and get it for myself. I knew that it was vaguely about a black religious community, but that was about it. I sat down this weekend and devoured it.

When Nadia is a high school senior muddling through grief after losing her mother, she starts seeing Luke, a college football star working in a diner because of an unfortunate injury. Their romance doesn’t last but they have a secret, something Nadia doesn’t even share with her best friend Aubrey, and that secret will follow them through early adulthood and warp their relationships in ways they could never have anticipated. They all have their flaws, but you can’t help but feel for each one of these characters as they navigate through what life has dumped in their laps.

So, the secret is such a big thing, but I don’t want to say what it is in case anyone reading this has avoided that detail so far and doesn’t want it to be spoiled. But I very, very much loved the topic and the many ways in which it was discussed and dissected. But the other big piece of this book is the concept of mothers. It’s about how our mothers affect our lives, whether they are present or absent. It’s about the different shape that mothers or mothering can take – it can be a caring sister, or a doting daughter, or one of those old wise ladies at church praying for the community. It can be the ways in which you choose to be there for friends and family, it can be knowing the difference between right and wrong, it can be doing the hard thing even if doesn’t feel right. Mothering can be the decision not to be a mother, or the decision to actively pursue motherhood no matter what.

Brit Bennett did an absolutely wonderful job in this book. There were so many quotes that I jotted down to muse over later, that lend insight on blackness, and sadness, and womanhood. I absolutely cannot wait to see what she puts out next, but whatever it is I’m here for it. She’s going on my auto-buy list.

Have you read it yet? What did you think?

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8 comments

  1. Yeah, I thought this one was really good. And I thought that in a year where most of the celebrated books by black authors were about The Black Experience, that this book is needed to show that black characters aren’t important only in historical novels like Homegoing or Underground Railroad, but essential to show the importance of them in The Human Experience. Does that make sense?

    The author is coming to my store soon, but I’m very disappointed that she’ll be there during my week of vacation and I won’t get to meet her.

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    1. YES, yes it does make sense. It’s about a black community and black characters but the focus is not about slavery or overt racism, which for some reason are the only literary fiction books it seems like publishers will accept by black authors. I’m so so glad this book exists, I can’t wait to see more from Brit Bennett.

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  2. I started reading it after my last library trip and am SO psyched to keep going. I’m finishing up a very sad book and will need a quick palate cleanser in between before I can launch onto something that will also be rather-to-quite sad, so The Mothers is let’s say third on my docket at this point. I loved the writing and I can’t wait to see where the story goes — the thing I thought was the main plot of the book happened and was over in the first fifty pages, so I really have no idea what comes next.

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  3. I want it I want it I want it I want it!!!

    It’s been on my radar as well and your review is pushing it over and I think I need to get this right now even though my TBR list is fairly large

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    1. That’s what happened to me! I already had it on my radar but the week it came out everyone was gushing about it online so I went out on my lunch and bought it, basically read it all the next day. It’s so worth it!

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