Friday, 23 December 2016

The Mothers

Author: Brit Bennett
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Paperback - Large Print
Pages: 400
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Random House
First Published: October 11, 2016
First Line: "We didn't believe when we first heard because you know how church folk can gossip."

Book Description from GoodReadsA dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. 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.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review:  This is a book about secrets, loyalty and the repercussions regarding the choices we make.  It's also about an unlikely friendship and an improbably love.  For a debut novel, it had moments of amazing and wonderfully crafted prose.   

"It was strange, learning the contours of another’s loneliness. You could never know it all at once; like stepping inside a dark cave, you felt along the walls, bumped into jagged edges."

That's some impressive writing for a debut author.  Unfortunately, those moments were far and few between.  The plot itself felt muddled and I struggled throughout the book to connect with and stay interested in the plight of the characters. For a book that deals with serious life issues and multiple relationships (familial, romantic, friendship), the character development was thin and the issues felt too removed from the plot (for example, Aubrey's past which the author doesn't explore).

While I can't say I loved this book, it had its moments.  Certain passages were well crafted and impressive but, while Bennett interested me enough to finish the book, I can't say that she completely pulled me into her story.  Bennett shows good promise as an author and although this wasn't a home run for me I look forward to reading her next literary offering.

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