The Mothers by Brit Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Seventeen-year-old Nadia Turner is a beautiful high school senior. An intelligent girl, she's college bound. But Nadia is also reeling from the suicide of her mother and trying to make sense of a life that includes just her and her taciturn Marine father. Nadia founds herself drawn to Luke Sheppard, the son of the Pastor of the Upper Room, the church of her African American community. Twenty-one, Luke is a former football star who was derailed by injury in college. Now working at a local restaurant, he and Nadia embark on a secret romance, and Nadia winds up pregnant. Not ready to have a child, she chooses to have an abortion. But Nadia is unaware of the far reaching impact of her decision and how it will affect Luke, herself, and Nadia's best friend, Aubrey.
I'm a strange person who is often wary of reading hyped books, so I put off reading this novel for a while. And I certainly did enjoy it; I can't say that I didn't. I basically read it in one day, and I was very much drawn into the story. While Bennett focuses her story on Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey, she also employs a "Greek chorus" of sorts, composed of "the mothers"--the female elders from the church--who tell the story of Nadia from their third person point of view. It's a different sort of method to employ, but Bennett pulls it off. Still, for me, I found a lot of this novel predictable, and I never really became completely attached to any of the characters. What I did enjoy is how much of the tale is rooted in the bits of life that can drag us all down. It some ways, it very well details the mundane aspects of life - making them seem interesting and nuanced. We basically see the entire span of Nadia's life, which was compelling. However, while there is a depth and message to some of Bennett's story, I can't see it sticking with me for the long-term.
Overall, this is well-written novel and certainly worth picking up. Did I find it worth all the hype? Probably not. But I'm no doubt a bit more cynical than most. It's still an intriguing story that I enjoyed reading.
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