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The Mothers

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  14,283 Ratings  ·  1,989 Reviews
A 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 ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Popular Answered Questions

Kate This book is fiction. You could classify it as women's fiction, adult fiction, or literary fiction.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Stefanie No, not at all.

Community Reviews

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Jan 17, 2017 karen rated it it was amazing
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 that i was given the opportunity to read
Jun 26, 2016 Roxane 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
Will Byrnes
Feb 09, 2017 Will Byrnes 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.
Book Riot Community
I feel like I should have drawn my dangers of listening to audiobooks for the car in addition to the gym, because I found myself driving around and fighting back tears the whole time I listened to this book. (Don’t audiobook and drive if the book gives you FEELS. I cried in a grocery store parking lot listening to this book.) Bennett perfectly captured painful coming-of-age moments for people who come from screwed-up families, especially the families that seem normal on the outside and especiall ...more
Larry Hoffer
Dec 02, 2016 Larry Hoffer 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 h
Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2016 Diane S ☔ 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
Hannah Greendale
Mar 13, 2017 Hannah Greendale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
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 adulthood, ultimately ensnaring Luke, Aubrey, and Nadia in a distressing game of "What if?"

Nadia, L
Oct 18, 2016 Elyse 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
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
Oct 15, 2016 Maxwell rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, 2016, botm
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.
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
Suzanne Leopold
Oct 12, 2016 Suzanne Leopold rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Andrew Smith
Mar 06, 2017 Andrew Smith 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
“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 I was
Marilyn C.
Jan 04, 2017 Marilyn C. 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
Nov 04, 2016 Eve 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 the
Michelle Turner
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.
Mollie Reads
Feb 01, 2017 Mollie Reads 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
3 stars

I wanted to slip this in before The Mothers day of adjudication (3/14/17) ,before the Tournament of Books judges fawn over it (or pick it apart, as I kind of want to, but can't for fear of spoiling the jambalaya). I will just say that I think Brit Bennett's got a long, successful career ahead of her after this, her debut novel. She takes an oft-travelled stroll down some very familiar paths but does it in such a way that the end product comes out fresh and vibrant. The dialogue she conce
Jessica Weil
Sep 23, 2016 Jessica Weil 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
Jessica Woodbury
The Mothers is at heart a simple book about a few people over a relatively short period of time. But it feels revolutionary because these characters are normal, everyday, middle-class people of color. That says much about the state of fiction, even today.

Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey all fill the kind of roles you've seen in stories before. Nadia is smart and pretty, but her ambitions are thrown awry by her mother's abrupt suicide. Luke is the pastor's son and former football hero who doesn't have foo
Jan 04, 2017 Lata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3-3.5 stars.

Initial thoughts:

I enjoyed the writing. Nadia and Aubrey felt real to me, while I had a harder time visualizing Luke. No one in this story was particularly admirable. Grief runs through the Turner family, when Nadia Turner's mother kills herself. Nadia is left to mourn and drift on her own, with no one reaching the lost, grieving and probably pretty angry 17-year old. I didn't find the congregation at the family's church to be particularly sympathetic to Nadia's mother's death, and f
When I finished the last page of this book, I wasn't immediately sure how I felt about it. It is definitely flawed, there are things that could have been done better, themes and characters that could have been fleshed out, typical underdevelopment of a debut author.

In spite of that, what Brit Bennet has accomplished with here is a pristine portrait of what it looks like when you're failed by the ones who are supposed to love you and you fall victim to the pattern of repeating that failure upon t
♥ Sandi
Feb 21, 2017 ♥ Sandi rated it liked it
A debut book that hits on a plethora of human issues - teen pregnancy, suicide, and abortion among others. It was the intertwined stories of Aubrey, Nadia, and Luke, three black teens in San Diego, and how the choices they made, the secrets they kept and the regrets they had, shaped their destinies.
At times I felt like this novel was like moving puzzle pieces toward a completion that just never quite fit together. I felt the ending to this story was overly abrupt. This book just did not pull at
Jan 01, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Check out my video book review- so many thoughts on The Mothers.

Find this & other reviews at Happy Reading!

I listened to the audiobook version of The Mothers, narrated by Adenrele Ojo & I highly recommend it.

Oh, Nadia….Nadia Turner. The girl who returns home when her father needs her & she has all the ladies at Upper Room chapel talking.

You know Nadia was never the same after her mother killed herself, that poor girl. You remem
Taryn Pierson
Nov 06, 2016 Taryn Pierson rated it really liked it
The Mothers is one of the most-buzzed books of the fall, and for good reason. It’s about Nadia and Luke, whose casual high-school fling turns serious when Nadia gets pregnant, and Aubrey, a quiet loner struggling to find a place where she fits in the world. It’s about how the effects of their choices ripple outward over the years, causing pain and damage, but also maybe inching toward love. It’s also about the mothers, the women of the church who raise their children and gossip about their lives ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
May 20, 2016 Jaclyn Crupi rated it it was amazing
I have so much to say but want to sit on it for a while. One of my books of the year for sure. Brit Bennett is a great new voice and this is definitely my kind of fiction.
Cindy Burnett
Oct 24, 2016 Cindy Burnett rated it really liked it
Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers is beautifully written and heartbreakingly sad. The Mothers follows three characters starting in high school and progressing into their twenties. The story begins with a secret that over time impacts an entire community. Bennett also focuses on the choices people make and their inability to move on from these choices even though the decision has been made. She writes lyrically and thoughtfully. I loved the book and read it in a day and a half. I did not wan ...more
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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
More about Brit Bennett...

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“Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip. —” 31 likes
“The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.” 20 likes
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