Review – The Mothers by Brit Bennett

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This weekend, I spent a few hours with a good book, a few cups of tea, and a warm blanket. This kind of ultimate relaxation is rare for me; I work the equivalent of two jobs and I’m usually too ADHD to sit still and read a book straight through for any length of time.

But something about the end of spring break prompted me to get in one more book and to make the most of it. So naturally, I read a really relaxing, not at all emotionally taxing book about nothing heavy or deep at all. Because I’m known for reading really chill reads. Or, you know, I read a very heavy, amazingly written book that almost made me cry, but not quite.

I’m sure I’ve spoken about this before, but I love heavy books. I want a book to make me cry. I want my world to be shattered, broken, swept up, glued back together in a different way, and to change completely because I’ve read a book. There’s something beautiful about a book that inspires this deep, painful, visceral reaction. I want a book to make me cry. I’m a literary masochist, what can I say?

Trigger warning: This book and this review openly discuss abortion, as it is central to the plot of this novel.

So this weekend, I chilled out with Brit Bennett’s The Mothers: A Novel.

The Mothers, at its surface is about a young girl, Nadia, who’s dealing with life after the death of her mother. It chronicles the relationship of 17-year-old Nadia and 21-year-old Luke Sheppard, the pastor’s son. Early in the book, Nadia discovers that she is pregnant. Nadia decides to have an abortion and asks Luke to pay for it. The story that follows is a tale of love and loss and heartbreak and female friendship. It’s a story of what could have been and what might be. It’s complex, with all the characters being so closely tied together, it’s hard to tell where one begins and another ends. I love storylines that are interwoven like that.

The most interesting part of this book, in my opinion, is the Greek chorus of church ladies who open each chapter. These women are The Mothers of the church. They watch from a distance and assess the situation and gossip about the people in the church. They are pseudo-narrators of the novel, piecing together the events of the story just too late. The Mothers help propel the story forward by filling in the gaps left by events of the story.

Something else I love about this book is the timeline. The story starts when Nadia is 17 years old and doesn’t conclude until she is in her thirties.  I love extended timelines. (I also love really condensed timelines, like 24 hours.) I love that we get to see how the events from the beginning effect the rest of Nadia and Luke’s entire lives. I love that we see how their lives push apart and pull together several times in their lives.

I loved the writing style of this book. I loved how easy it was to read and how captivating the storyline was. I also love that I never fell in love with Nadia. I regularly say that I don’t have to like a character to want to know their story, and this is a prime example. Nadia is not necessarily a forgivable or likable character, and neither is Luke. In fact, the only redeeming character, in my opinion, is Aubrey. I’d read more about Aubrey, were that an option.

Overall, The Mothers was a quick, deep, heart-wrenching read. It spoke on important themes–like the destructive nature of secrets–and provided a commentary on abortion, both the internal complexities of it and the societal views. It was enthralling; it was a page turner. It was a wonderful read to end Spring Break with.

There are obviously some trigger warnings to accompany this book. This book deals closely with abortion and there are suggestions of violence. But this book is totally worth the read.

I hope you’ll give it a read!

Plucky’s Rating? 4.5 stars.

Yours,
The Plucky Reader

 

 

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