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The Mothers

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  52,804 ratings  ·  5,630 reviews
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, p
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Siv I didn't think it was either anti-abortion or a rant. Abortion played a significant role in the story, and the different characters handled it differe…moreI didn't think it was either anti-abortion or a rant. Abortion played a significant role in the story, and the different characters handled it differently. To me it seemed like a pretty honest account of the complexities of the event and its emotional toll.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
bookster I loved the book but gave it 4 stars just because of that. I also wondered what was going on in that last paragraph. I needed a little more closure.
I…more
I loved the book but gave it 4 stars just because of that. I also wondered what was going on in that last paragraph. I needed a little more closure.
I needed more on the military man, on the suicide, and on Nadia and her dad. (less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  52,804 ratings  ·  5,630 reviews


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Kat
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
hell to the yeah!! so much complexity all wrapped up in such a tiny package, and with a riveting story too. hard to believe this was a debut, tbh.
Roxane
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Mothers is an outstanding, engaging debut novel. The story follows two teenagers, Nadia and Luke, who fall in love as teenagers and how they come together and fall apart over the years. This is also a novel about a community and a church community and a friendship between Nadia and her best friend Aubrey, and the sorrows of motherless girls. I loved the voice and the storytelling and how Bennett is able to hold the story she wants to tell together over the course of a decade. The one part of ...more
karen
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*a mother's day float!!! for mothers!!!*

i saw a comment the other day on a friend's review that was both amusing and galling:

Dammit! I can't trust the reviews of people who were given the item for free! Believe it or not, you're predisposed to like the product.

so before i get to the review part, let me just say that - yes, i did get this book for free, but that didn't predispose me to like the product (as i shudder at the word "product" being used to describe a book). yes, i am beyond grateful
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Will Byrnes
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A girl nowadays has to get nice and close to tell if her man ain’t shit and by then it might be too late. We were girls once. It’s exciting, loving someone who can never love you back. Freeing, in its own way. No shame in loving an aint-shit man, long as you get it out of your system good and early. A tragic woman hooks into an aint-shit man, or worse, lets him hook into her. He will drag her until he tires. He will climb atop her shoulders and her body will sag from the weight of loving him
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Jill
It’s never easy for me to be the lone dissenting voice in a chorus of much more respected reviewers who have lauded The Mothers as one of the finest books of 2016. Yet for me, this debut novel is a classic example of “the emperor has no clothes.”

The book focuses on three teens: Nadia, whose mother killed herself for unknown reasons, her boyfriend Luke, and her best friend Aubrey who is pious and estranged from her own mother. The title of the book is very apt, because this book deals with all k
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Book Riot Community
I don’t even know what to say about this book. It made me feel all the things. It’s about three people—Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey—but mostly Nadia. It’s about how our choices affect us, and how our secrets can define us if we let them. It’s about growing up in a tight knit community, and the pressures and the judgements that can go along with that. It’s about how grief and pain mess us up and what can happen when we try to leave it behind. The Mothers is my favourite kind of book—a story about peop ...more
Larry H
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this between 4 and 4.5 stars, closer to the latter.

There's an incredible sense of longing that pervades Brit Bennett's terrifically compelling debut novel, The Mothers . There's longing for love of all kinds—maternal, romantic, even the love of good friends—a longing for answers, a longing to find one's place in the world, and a longing for truth. But getting what you think you want doesn't always make things turn out right.

Nadia Turner is smart, destined for a future far better than
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Hannah Greendale
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



Nadia Turner is introduced to unimaginable grief as a teenager. None of the vices she turns to as coping mechanisms have any real consequence, until her dalliance with the pastor's son, Luke Sheppard, forces her to make a difficult decision. The byproduct of their liaison is something Nadia keeps to herself, even withholding it from her best friend, Aubrey Evans. But the secret follows Nadia into adultho
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Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The entwined lives of three teens in an African American community in Southern, California. Nadia, whose mother recently committed suicide and Aubrey, whose mother has chosen her boyfriend over her, and Luke, the pastor's son. Personal demons, young love, and growing up to find you still long for that which you left behind. A decision impossible to take back but that will fill Nadia with regret.. the Upper Room chapel and the Mothers, those older church ladies, who seem to see and know everythin ...more
Elyse  Walters
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can see why this novel is getting 'buzz'.

"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 unriped secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season. But we didn't. We shared this secret, a secret that began the spring Nadia Turner got knocked up by the pastor's son and went to the abortion clinic downtown to take care of it".
"She was seventeen then." She lived with
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Maxwell
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
There's no denying that Brit Bennett can craft a great sentence. She's able to evoke so much emotion in a turn of phrase. But those moments are few and far between in this story of hard decisions, lifelong consequences, and the unbreakable bonds that humans share.

I felt like this book had a lot of melodrama; many scenes don't feel authentic. I can see Bennett working behind the scenes, which doesn't give me much confidence as a reader. However, when she gets it right—wow, she hits the bullseye.
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Five stars! I’m so grateful I finally read this beautiful book that’s been on my shelf since it released.

Beth (bibliobeth) and I buddy read The Mothers and The Vanishing Half back-to-back. Both books are top notch, more than five star, literary fiction at its finest.

We read The Mothers first, and what struck me most here is how tenderly Bennett draws her male characters. They are tough, but they are loving, and you feel their sensitivity (and I loved that). Luke has to be one of my favorite mal
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Nadia Turner is a seventeen year old girl. She recently lost her mother to suicide (Not a spoiler) and is completely grief stricken. She is a beautiful, super smart girl who is fast tracked to college and a better life. Then she starts slipping and seeing the Pastor's son. You know they say those things about the preacher's kid for a reason don't you?

Preacher's kid Lucas is the All-American kid. Former football star that got hurt that is now living with Mommy and Daddy working at a restaurant. H
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Cheri
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing

The mothers are those from the Upper Room, the older women who stand over their congregation, sometimes quietly sitting back, taking note of the changes, the moods, of those whose bodies are in the pews and whose minds are not. They sit in judgment, handing out opinions, conclusions, decisions and verdicts on who should be spending less time carousing and more time serving others. They’ve seen it all in all their years, there’s no surprising them, but it doesn’t stop them from singing out a litt
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Julie
The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a 2016 Riverhead publication.

This is another one of those ‘buzz’ books I wouldn’t ordinarily read, but my curiosity got the better of me, so I checked it out of the library, just to see for myself why the book garnered such high praise.

The ‘Mothers’ are the women of Upper Room Chapel who basically gossip about the members of the church and keep track of the families who attend.

They narrate the story of Nadia, Luke, and Audrey, three young black people living in
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Gabby
“Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead.”

I listened to the audiobook for this one and I am so glad that I did, the audiobook is so great. This story revolves around three friends Nadia, Luke and Aubrey over many years of their lives. This book mainly revolves around the theme of motherhood, but it also touches on many things like feminism, abortion, and the challenges of being Black in contemporary America. It starts with a pregnant teenage girl havin
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Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
The story centers around three young adults growing up in Southern California.

Nadia Turner is a seventeen year old senior in high school. She has been accepted to study at the University of Michigan. She is grieving the death of her mother who committed suicide six months ago. Nadia becomes involves with twenty-one year old Luke Sheppard. He is the son of the preacher at the local chapel. They have a secret romance, and Nadia finds herself pregnant. During employment at the local chapel, Aubrey
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was not sure I wanted to read this book at all because of some negative reviews and comments in a discussion thread. I should know better by now! The novel is about mothers in a variety of ways. The central character, Nadia, gets pregnant and has an abortion not long after her mother commits suicide. There are a chorus of mothers at her church, the mother of her boyfriend, a sister-as-mother figure, and so on.

I come from a fundie anti-abortion background and have grown into a non-church pro-c
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Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
“The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.”

A beautiful book with a real soul at its center, The Mothers is unlike anything I've read before. It starts with a teenager recovering from the loss of her mother's suicide, who then does the desperate and ends her own baby's life through an abortion. The book is surprisingly layered as it touches upon the girl's life as she grows up, the father's life as he grows and mourns for his child and his youth, and the best friend wh
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Andrew Smith
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
In truth, this isn’t really the type of book I’d normally pick up. Maybe I’d think it too focused on women’s issues – those that are normally conducted without recourse to their menfolk. Maybe I’d be a little scared of it, all that unfamiliar territory. Either way, I was spared the decision making as this book was sent to me as part of an excellent quarterly literary box, supplied by Quarterly .co. One of the attractive features of this package is that the book came complete with handwritten jot ...more
Jennifer
★★★½
“The book, I think, is about this central question of how girls grow into women when the female figures who are supposed to usher you into womanhood aren’t there. How girls come of age with that absence. And it’s about how communities are shaped by loss, this thing I keep writing about—how in moments of grief, community can be both a source of comfort and a source of oppression. My main character feels this responsibility to her community yet wants to escape it at the same time. And
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Marilyn C.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
3.5 Stars

In the Goodreads’ description of this book they use the word "dazzling," by no means was I "dazzled" by this story, but I was entertained. Brit Bennett has created a story full of lies, deep sadness and lifelong regrets which become heavy burdens for some of the characters. The book mainly focuses on three main characters ranging in age from the late teens to early twenties, which gave me the feeling, at times, that I was reading a YA novel. Don't get me wrong, there is some heavy plot
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Idarah
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
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"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."

This was a depressingly lyrical book about the unlikely love between two young people, and an equally unlikely friendship between two young girls. Set in a small all-black community in Southern California circa 2008, the narrators are a group of older church women from the Upper Room church (attended by all
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Thomas
This book fell super flat for me, so unlike Brit Bennett’s second novel The Vanishing Half . In The Mothers, we follow Nadia Turner, whose mother dies by suicide during Nadia’s teenage years. In her grief, Nadia sleeps with Luke Sheppard, a 21-year-old former football star whose injuries have him waiting tables at a diner. When Nadia learns about her pregnancy, she decides to get an abortion, which sets into motion a series of events that will affect her life and Luke’s life well into adultho ...more
Ifeyinwa
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Y'all I'm conflicted... I really liked this novel- the writing, the overall plot and its lack of a clear-cut ending. At one point, I couldn't even put the book down. But, I felt somewhat disappointed by the predictable path this novel took. There were a couple melodramatic scenes that were Tyler Perry-esque, that had me clutching my imaginary pearls or groaning in dismay. I just felt like the author could have taken this plot somewhere unexpected & killed it.

Why do I feel conflicted? Because al
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Michelle
Initial thoughts: What a great debut! Lyrical writing, a touching storyline and resounding characters . . . Sat down to read a few chapters but couldn't help but finish it in a day.
Brandice
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Mothers is a story about a group of people in small California community and its church, friendship, and “what ifs”.

Nadia and Aubrey are two young girls who become friends, both coming from painful pasts, that while different, allow them to bond. Prior to the girls’ friendship, the summer before college Nadia falls for Luke, the preacher’s son in their community, and ends up pregnant. The decisions she makes will have a lasting impact on everyone. The characters grow older as the story cont
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Kelli
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I just spent a few days listening to this story, with it’s talented narrator using difference voices and affectations to portray its different characters. The story meandered along, at times to its detriment. The narrator’s talent carried it, but I wasn’t able to connect fully to any of the characters and I felt as though something crucial was missing. 3.5 stars
Mollie Reads
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
**I forgot to mention, I got this book in my Quarterly literary box and I'm SO glad I did. The personal annotations from Brit Bennett made my experience that much more special. Definitely check out Quaterly if you haven't already!**

Oh, my heart! This book aches the whole way through. I was absolutely astonished by the writing.

The Mothers is about a young girl named Nadia who tries to cope after her mother kills herself, the catalyst for Nadia’s pursuit of any opportunity that makes her feel—any
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Jessica Sullivan
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
In her elegant debut novel, Brit Bennett explores the concept of motherhood in its many forms, centered around a complicated friendship between two teenage girls.

Still grieving after her mother’s suicide, 17-year-old Nadia Turner develops a tenuous relationship with Luke, the local pastor’s son. Their relationship ends abruptly, leaving them with a painful secret that that will burden them both for years to come. Around this same time, Nadia befriends a quiet girl named Aubrey whose mother is ou
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Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

The Mothers is her first nov
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