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2017 TOB -The Books > The Mothers

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments space to discuss The Mothers by Brit Bennett

note; interesting discuss in the shortlist thread as well


message 2: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailparis) | 20 comments Well written, easy YA ish story but this book made me furious!! I felt totally manipulated by the author. Nadia makes a choice - decides not to be a teen mother and not to become her mother (for whom things did not turn out so well). Of course the choice is not easy and yes she and the others around her have to live with the consequences of that choice but she is not EVIL because of it. And in fact in the novel she is! She treats good boyfriends badly. She comes back and has an affair with her ex, now married to her best friend, etc.... And how does her life turn out? The fact that she is succesful? Doesn't matter - she is childless therefore no good. GRRRRR


message 3: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments Are you taking the viewpoint of the church as the viewpoint of the book, though? I had a little frustration with the storytelling (mostly didn't care about the love triangle plot AT ALL) but I thought Bennett was examining the attitude that Nadia's family had toward her -- and the hypocrisy that came with it -- and not signing on to endorse it. I took the ending as Nadia getting free of their judgment and succeeding on her own terms.


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailparis) | 20 comments I hope you are right but that's not how I read it. I felt there was a lot of judgement on Nadia. Even if she was free, she was damaged and empty. In my book she did a hard but courageous thing but it is not presented as such...


message 5: by Neighbors (new)

Neighbors (neighbors73) | 69 comments Yeah, I really felt like this abortion aftermath was a commentary on the hypocrisy of the Church rather than that really being how Nadia felt about herself.

I really struggled with the book at first, but found that I keep coming back to it. I also think that as a white person, my read of the book is just always going to be a little different than if I was part of that culture.

Mostly, I'm super interested in how the book explores the ways young people try to reach enough escape velocity to start new lives for themselves.


message 6: by Gayla (last edited Feb 21, 2017 06:25AM) (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments I agree with Caroline and Neighbors; I don't think the book was endorsing the church's perspective.

Neighbors wrote: "I really struggled with the book at first, but found that I keep coming back to it. I also think that as a white person, my read of the book is just always going to be a little different than if I was part of that culture. "

I grew up in a lily-white, fundamentalist-evangelical church, and what was most interesting to me was how similar the church culture in the book was to the church culture of my own youth. I had expected more differences than I found.


message 7: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments I thought it was most interesting as an examination of how 'exceptional' black women are regarded within their communities, shown by the basically impossible pressures that Nadia faced to be what others wanted her to be.


message 8: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 334 comments And the author of the novel is a pretty outspoken feminist; I have read some of her nonfiction on feminist websites, so I really doubt her intent was to shame Nadia for making the choice she did.


message 9: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments Yeah, I call bullshit on the author's feminist credentials. This was a super-irritating religious screed on the horror of abortion. Everyone in the book involved in the abortion is shown to have their lives ruined by it.

This was retrograde, simplistic, moralistic YA nonsense. I'm amazed at the positive reception this book has received although it is perhaps in keeping with the current lurch to the right in America.


message 10: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments It seems like people have trouble reading fiction on this topic that isn't didactic.


message 11: by Gayla (last edited Feb 21, 2017 09:42AM) (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments It's going to make the tournament discussion very interesting.

I'm actually thinking of getting it from the library again, now that I've heard other people's interpretations of it.


message 12: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 334 comments Daniel wrote: "Yeah, I call bullshit on the author's feminist credentials. This was a super-irritating religious screed on the horror of abortion. Everyone in the book involved in the abortion is shown to have th..."

Do you...see the irony at all in being a man (I am assuming) explaining that the author cannot be a feminist because YOU don't think she's a good enough one, because YOU interpreted the book in a way that certain female readers did not, and in a way that based on what I have read of the author she herself did not mean?


message 13: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 470 comments The discussion on this one is going to be interesting. I appreciated that this novel took on a charged issue and refused to shoehorn it into a narrative acceptable to either side.

I grew up, like Gayla, in a white fundamentalist world, and am now unabashedly liberal, especially in my faith that women are capable of making their own decisions about their bodies. As I read, I could see points where one side or the other would be unhappy with the story. Kudos to Bennett for writing a nuanced novel instead of a screed. That took guts.


message 14: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Did you see in the news that Norma McCorvey "Jane Roe" passed away a few days ago?

I must live under a rock because after the news of her death, I started reading about it and learned that she completely flipped her position on abortion in the 90's and became a born again Christian and started speaking out against it. She even went so far as trying to overturn her own case in early 2000's!


message 15: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments Heather wrote: "Do you...see the irony at all in being a man (I am assuming) explaining that the author cannot be a feminist because YOU don't think she's a good enough one"

Yes, I do. Although just because something is ironic, doesn't make it unlikely or untrue. Also I don't think she "cannot be a feminist". I just haven't seen her describe herself anywhere as a feminist and I think she probably doesn't to any great extent. You described her as a "pretty outspoken feminist". I happen not to agree with your opinion rather than hers. Happy to be proven wrong. And, of course, my opinion is subjective, just as everyone else's is.

I found The Mothers deeply judgmental, oddly religious and, utterly dismissive of anyone (including her leading character) who participated in any way in the act of abortion.

I have searched everywhere for a statement by Ms Bennett that she is pro-choice and supports the rights of women to do as they wish with their own bodies. I haven't found one.

What I found instead was this:

What sort of statement are you hoping to convey about abortion?
I acknowledge that writing about abortion is political. I did not want this to be a novel interested in convincing someone one way or another on how they should feel. I wanted to render an experience that was more complex. It’s a strange issue because it’s something that’s deeply private that’s made extremely public when we debate the politics of it. I wanted to look into this one character who made this choice, and who continues to think about that choice as she gets older.


Ms. Bennett also talks about growing up in a Catholic home and I had felt that influence throughout the book even before I learned that. An abortion is the defining action of this book, more than a mother's suicide, more than the central character betraying her best friend, more than anything else. The woman who had an abortion ends up childless and alone. The people who were complicit in the abortion are cast out from their community or condemned to misery. Luke is only redeemed when he has a baby with his lawful wife.

You should feel free to dismiss everything I ever write about books, by virtue of my having testicles, but, in my opinion, this was sub-standard YA trash.


message 16: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 334 comments Here is a portion of an interview she gave about the book to the feminist website Jezebel. While I suppose it is possible that she herself is a "conservative" who thinks abortion "wrecks" somebody, I feel like she would not have worded her answer in this way if she was:

What has surprised you or not surprised you about the way people react to the role of abortion in the book?

(This is Ms. Bennett's answer:) It’s surprised me how weird of a topic it is for people to talk about, as common as a procedure as this is, and as much as we’re constantly debating it politically. I’ll be at the dentist, and he’ll be like, “What’s your book about?” And I’ll be thinking, well, you’ve known me since I was five but I guess we’re just going to go there.

It might sound like a cheap out, but I really didn’t debate the “should she or shouldn’t she” question while I was writing. She just did. And people will interpret Nadia’s decision very differently depending on their politics: for example, conservative people imagine it to be an act she’ll be wrecked by for the rest of the book. (end of Ms. Bennett's answer)

But, hell, maybe I'm wrong too. I guess my main point is, let's not assume we know the author's personal politics based on our own interpretations of her novel.

I grew up in a Catholic home myself, and am firmly and staunchly not only pro-choice, but pro-abortion. I don't think the home someone grew up in necessarily informs his or her viewpoint on this issue.

And I certainly would not dismiss your opinion of books based on your gender, I just don't think a man should assume the validity or lack thereof of a woman's "feminist credentials" based on what he interpreted her book to mean.


message 17: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments Heather wrote: "Here is a portion of an interview she gave about the book to the feminist website Jezebel. While I suppose it is possible that she herself is a "conservative" who thinks abortion "wrecks" somebody,..."

I think she's dancing on the fence, kinda understanding how bad it would look if she came out against abortion, but also kinda not understanding the book she herself wrote. And, yes, I get that my saying that is not just ironic, but actually arrogant, mansplainy and a little daft.

I found this a deeply conservative book, but I read it at a time where I may have been hyper-sensitive to these kinds of things.

I stand by my assessment of it as YA. It's very simple. The motivations of the characters are very simple. It's a narrow book that struggles to create a believable world for its characters. Even the church community is nondescript and vaguely presented so that the mothers themselves are blurry and ill-defined rather than the intended Greek chorus that should be there to provide clarity.

For a genuinely feminist YA book from 2016 that knocks spots of this I would highly recommend The Lie Tree. Superior in every way.

Thanks for engaging. I enjoyed this conversation.


message 18: by Drew (last edited Feb 22, 2017 12:01PM) (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Daniel wrote: "The woman who had an abortion ends up childless and alone."

And free to pursue the life she chose.


message 19: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments Drew wrote: "Daniel wrote: "The woman who had an abortion ends up childless and alone."

Or free to pursue the life she chose."


Exactly this. When I read the book, I didn't think of Nadia's single, childfree life as an authorial punishment but as the life she wanted and was making for herself. (Granted, it's been some months since I read it, and I don't have the text at my fingertips right now but that's how I remember it.)


message 20: by Beth (new)

Beth Dean (readremark) | 29 comments This is a super interesting discussion! I saw it not
necessarily about abortion, but more about The Mothers acting as a Greek chorus, observing and gossiping, but not acting motherly at all to a girl who needs the care.


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments I am really enjoying this spirited discussion. There were definitely times at which I was uncomfortable with the characters, and I worried if I was reading an anti-choice novel, but I never thought Nadia regretted her choice. At all. I don't think it stayed with her. I think her anger at Luke for abandoning her there stayed with her. At times, she even regretted that her mother didn't feel like she had a choice when she got pregnant so young. Ultimately, this quote near the end sums up the novel for me, which I enjoyed much more after I was done than while I was reading: "She wanted this baby and that was the difference: magic you wanted was a miracle, magic you didn't was a haunting." For me, that sentence sums up all the feelings of all the characters. Pregnancy is often the best or worst news you receive in life, and I thought Bennett did a remarkable job exploring that theme through many lenses.


message 22: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 470 comments Not to mention how Bennett nails the minister's wife for her hypocrisy and how harshly she dealt with Luke for being willing to pay for the abortion, but then to try and hold it against her. There is absolutely no anti-abortion messaging going on, but the story takes place in a culture that doesn't approve of it and Bennett deals with that with honesty.

Seriously, this was a nuanced book if you take the time to read it as it is written instead of running it through a purity filter. There are flaws in it, but that's not what's happening here. The book isn't being criticized but the author is being attacked. I'd hate to only read authors whose political and moral views exactly coincided with my own.


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 22, 2017 04:56PM) (new)

Alison wrote: "The book isn't being criticized but the author is being attacked."

That's not what I got from the discussion. I think the conversation is mostly about the author's literary choices and what might have motivated them. Based on the excerpts from Bennett's interviews, which some people have included with their comments, it's clear that she knew her book would be controversial. An author does not owe readers an explanation of their work. However, the disagreements in this thread are a result of confusion caused by Bennett not being clear about her intent.


message 24: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments This really isn't a YA book, most of it happens with the main characters as adults and it deals with an extra marital affair, this is not something that gets marketed as YA.


message 25: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments The reason I refer to it as YA is because the consequences of events are so NOT nuanced and NOT adult. The idea that the choice a teenager made to abort an unwanted pregnancy would haunt both the mother and the father for the rest of their lives is a Catholic fantasy.

If you don't like me calling it YA, that's fine, but it's certainly not a mature work. Compare this to Homegoing or The Girls or The Turner House. It's terribly unsophisticated.

The only reason the minister's wife is nailed is for her complicity in the abortion. The only virtuous people in the book are Nadia's Dad and Aubrey. Luke is only redeemed when he finally fathers a child.

I agree that Nadia does not regret her decision, but the book judges her very heavily for it. She is condemned to return home, betray her best friend and live an unloved life. Seems a bit harsh for a successful woman who made a reasonably sensible decision about her life when young.


message 26: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments Sigh, so you don't actually mean "YA" you are using "YA" to mean "bad".


message 27: by Neighbors (new)

Neighbors (neighbors73) | 69 comments Is it the book judging her harshly or her community that is? Just because its not a community you're familiar with doesn't mean that couldn't happen.


message 28: by Drew (last edited Feb 23, 2017 07:37AM) (new)

Drew (drewsof) | 1 comments Daniel wrote: "The reason I refer to it as YA is because the consequences of events are so NOT nuanced and NOT adult. The idea that the choice a teenager made to abort an unwanted pregnancy would haunt both the mother and the father for the rest of their lives is a Catholic fantasy."

This is the kind of utter nonsense that makes my blood pressure spike through the roof. And the bloody Tournament hasn't even started yet. So this is the last thing I'm probably going to say on the Goodreads forums before the games begin because, y'all, I just can't. Daniel, sorry-not-sorry to come at you hot.

1) as Caroline said, you're using YA to mean bad. The logical fallacy here has been disproved again and again and again and yet it keeps popping up. Do you think that 'sophistication' equals 'adult'? Talk to me about His Dark Materials. Or, conversely, that 'adult' equals 'sophistication'? Talk to me about (and this is just a quick list off the top of my head) any Housewives TV show, the President of the United States, or even something I genuinely enjoy like the Preston & Child Pendergast mysteries. Try using descriptive terms as opposed to denigrating an entire, quite worthy, genre that you happen not to like.

2) I am and have been, my whole life, devoutly atheistic. I grew up in a relatively Protestant community, went to a tremendously Catholic college, and now live in the center of hedonistic hell itself, the theater & literary communities of New York City. I have friends & family who've had abortions. I have friends & family who've lost children, either through miscarriage or otherwise. I have friends & family who can't get pregnant. And of these friends, there are those who are genuinely unaffected - and there are those who likely will not ever let it go, regardless of when it occurred. Sometimes that conforms to expected gender norms, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the event occurred in their teens, sometimes in their middle age.

What unifies them, and what offends me about your comment - let me repeat, an atheist (and oh yeah a male (just to add, I wholeheartedly agree with earlier comments about how, as men, we don't really get to call any kind of BS on a woman telling a story about a woman's body - just as Luke doesn't get any say in what Nadia does or does not decide)) - is that they went through something and experienced it in ways that are entirely justified, not necessarily by religion or society or anything at all, by the fact that their experiences are THEIR EXPERIENCES. Period.

So, honest to the god I don't believe in, I'm asking you to apologize and take back your comment. Who are you to make a judgement about what someone might feel in a situation that you've either experienced differently or, and I'm taking a shot in the dark here, not experienced at all?

3) Also, The Girls? Is more mature than this novel? It deals with virtually the same thing - an inability to not continue to think about an event that occurred in your past - except in far more pretentious (and, to my mind, far less successful) ways.

See you all in March, fam.


message 29: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Daniel wrote: "The reason I refer to it as YA is because the consequences of events are so NOT nuanced and NOT adult. The idea that the choice a teenager made to abort an unwanted pregnancy would haunt both the m..."

Tell that to my fairly-well-adjusted male atheist friend who was in a similar situation to Luke and was still mourning that pregnancy 20 years later.


message 30: by Daniel (last edited Feb 23, 2017 09:17AM) (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments I'm not sure that I meant YA as bad, rather as less sophisticated, less worldly, more narrowly focused. I have read a fair amount of YA books and am father to 3 YAs. In my opinion, The Mothers was far closer to John Green than it was to Emma Cline or Yaa Gyasi or Angela Flournoy. As YA it lacked the sophistication of Rainbow Rowell or Frank Portman or Phillip Pullman.

I'm not a big fan of labels and I didn't mean YA to sound quite as pejorative as you have taken it. I'm happy to withdraw my labeling of the book as YA since it's been such a distracting trigger for some. The novel is simply jejeune.

Drew, I'm afraid I got a little lost along the way of your impassioned response trying to understand what you want me to apologize for. Not being a big fan of confrontations, I'm happy to apologize for anything you need. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Other Drew, while I have every sympathy for your well-adjusted friend, I'm not sure that melancholy bit of anecdata is enough to change my opinion that this book was a Catholic fantasy and that the author judges anyone who is complicit in abortion very harshly whether she realizes it or not.


message 31: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 470 comments Daniel wrote: "I'm not sure that melancholy bit of anecdata is enough to change my opinion that this book was a Catholic fantasy ..."

Since she was writing from the perspective of the black Evangelical church, this is simply false. Look, we all have a lens through which we view things. But the best part of fiction is when it pulls us away from our own perceptions and into the perceptions of another person. It didn't work for you, but the accusation that it's written from a Catholic viewpoint makes as much sense as saying the setting was stereotypically Canadian.


message 32: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments Alison wrote: "Since she was writing from the perspective of the black Evangelical church, this is simply false"

Really? I respectfully disagree. The book is fiction. The setting may be a black Evangelical church, but the attitude to abortion seems to this reader, at least, to be firmly based in the author's Catholic roots. I readily admit to knowing slightly more about Catholicism than Evangelicalism (neither branch feels terribly benevolently about my lot), but if the two are closely aligned on attitudes to abortion then I guess the distinction is moot as far as the author's intentions are concerned.


message 33: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Alison wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I'm not sure that melancholy bit of anecdata is enough to change my opinion that this book was a Catholic fantasy ..."

Since she was writing from the perspective of the black Evange..."


THIS! One of the best things about readers is they gain empathy from the broad range of knowledge gained from books based on situations we would never otherwise encountered.


message 34: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Daniel wrote: "Alison wrote: "Since she was writing from the perspective of the black Evangelical church, this is simply false"

Really? I respectfully disagree. The book is fiction. The setting may be a black Ev..."


Daniel, are you not interested in gaining insight into how others view the difficult topic of abortion? It seems to me that you are more offended than willing to open yourself up to the thoughts of a female in a situation you yourself could never be in (being a male).

I will state that I am very pro-choice and religion makes me very uncomfortable. However, the narrow-minded views you are throwing about also make me very uncomfortable.


message 35: by Daniel (last edited Feb 23, 2017 10:08AM) (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments AmberBug wrote: "the narrow-minded views you are throwing about also make me very uncomfortable"

Wow! I'm not sure I even know how to respond to that. In suggesting that I found an author overly harsh towards her fictional creation and judgmental about the fictional character's decision to have an abortion, I have somehow expressed "narrow-minded views"?

Is it narrow minded to say that Catholicism is anti-abortion? Is that what you meant? Because, newsflash, neither Islam nor Judaism are crazy about ham sandwiches.

Religion doesn't make me at all uncomfortable. I am a religious person. I believe in God and regularly attend services. I am a pillar of my community.

I believe that every woman has the absolute right to do with her body exactly as she chooses. Not everyone in my community might agree with that. Fug 'em, they're wrong.

I read The Mothers, just like everyone else on this thread. I found the book conservative, judgmental, unsophisticated, jejeune and disconcertingly unaware of itself. I do not think it's a great book.

That is all. I don't care what the religion or the religious beliefs of the author are. I merely suggest they influenced her writing more than everyone is admitting. The quote I brought way upthread from Ms Bennett when she was asked about her thoughts on abortion point blank seemed uncertain at best but also a little have-your-cake-and-eat-it. If I was being unkind, I might have described her response as weaselly. I think she's just young and not fully formed. I read several first novels last year that were significantly better than this, in my opinion.

Now, can we all please take it down a notch and stop getting upset about my idiot opinions about a soon-to-be-forgotten book?

Cheers.


message 36: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments "This was a super-irritating religious screed on the horror of abortion. Everyone in the book involved in the abortion is shown to have their lives ruined by it.

This was retrograde, simplistic, moralistic YA nonsense. I'm amazed at the positive reception this book has received although it is perhaps in keeping with the current lurch to the right in America."


I think this is where you lost everyone.


message 37: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments Alison wrote: "the accusation that it's written from a Catholic viewpoint makes as much sense as saying the setting was stereotypically Canadian"

That's not at all what I claimed. I said that one of the major threads of the book is the loneliness of the main character a decade after having an abortion. She has no friends. Her life is portrayed as empty and meaningless. Luke is shown to regret having been complicit in the abortion (he delivered the money to pay for it). He is literally crippled in the book and through the clumsy metaphor of physical rehab, he finds redemption which reaches a pinnacle when he fathers a child. This, I claim, is a Catholic fantasy, whether the author acknowledges it or not.


message 38: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Daniel wrote: "Other Drew, while I have every sympathy for your well-adjusted friend, I'm not sure that melancholy bit of anecdata is enough to change my opinion that this book was a Catholic fantasy and that the author judges anyone who is complicit in abortion very harshly whether she realizes it or not."

But perhaps it could help you see how some of us could accept the situation in the book without seeing it as judgment?


message 39: by Drew (last edited Feb 23, 2017 11:02AM) (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Daniel wrote: "Her life is portrayed as empty and meaningless."

I don't see this at all but perhaps as a 60ish single, childfree woman, I wouldn't. Nadia still has plenty of time to find love, have children, be what she wants rather than what was ordained for her by the community she was raised in. If she's unhappy, I think it's more a result of her mother's suicide.


message 40: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Sevitt | 94 comments AmberBug wrote: ""This was a super-irritating religious screed on the horror of abortion. Everyone in the book involved in the abortion is shown to have their lives ruined by it."

Hmm... yes. I can see now how that may have made me seem a little unhinged. Sorry.


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments Drew wrote: "Daniel wrote: "Her life is portrayed as empty and meaningless."

I don't see this at all but perhaps as a 60ish single, childfree woman, I wouldn't. Nadia still has plenty of time to find love, hav..."


I don't see that at all either. In fact, I see Nadia thinking her mother's life was empty and meaningless because she felt she didn't have a choice, had Nadia, and then killed herself. I think she feels immense guilt for her mother's empty life, and even some guilt that she has the freedom her mother didn't.


message 42: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments I appreciate the people in this thread who have been able to give this book a more nuanced reading. Some books don't lend themselves to that for some readers, and that's cool.


message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 24, 2017 07:57AM) (new)

"Nuanced reading"—that's a new phrase for me. Like all readers, I bring my experiences, prior knowledge, politics, and plenty of other biases to each book, and all of that affects my enjoyment and opinion of the work. Through reflection, discussion, and sometimes, research, my opinion and/or understanding of the book might be altered. But, I think nuance is the author's job, not mine.

Not that he needs it, but I want to give Daniel a little support here. The ToB, and by extension, this group, are driven by readers who have and express strong opinions about the books in contention for the Rooster. The heat in this thread started because Daniel expressed his strong opinion, which he backed up with examples from the book and interviews with the author. I have enjoyed reading his comments, and they have certainly made for a lively discussion. That's the fun of this whole enterprise for me! So...Thank you, Daniel! And thanks to all who have engaged in this conversation. It was much more interesting to me than The Mothers.


message 44: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen (gretchena) | 7 comments Wow, already a heated discussion, and it's not even March!

This book suffered from a problem I usually see lobbed at romance novels ... would the characters just TALK to each other???
- Nadia doesn't tell her father about the abortion
- Nadia doesn't tell Aubrey about the abortion
- Luke doesn't tell Aubrey about Nadia (he does tell about the abortion- late)
- Aubrey never tells anyone about Paul.

And meanwhile the mothers are filling in the gaps with their commentary and judgements.

From that standpoint, I can understand Daniel's comment that the novel is jejeune.

But there is a very interesting commentary on mothers in this book
- Nadia's mother married because of the baby, and then committed suicide
- Aubrey's mother was a wanderer, and certainly didn't give Aubrey a safe place to grow
- Luke's mother is focused on her son and her standing.

So, what kind of mother would Nadia have been, and will Aubrey be?


message 45: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 814 comments I actually agree with you, Daniel, on many of your points. In my initial comments about The Mothers (which I can't find now), I proffered the exact same reaction -- but perhaps not stated in the same way. I think the issue is not the opinions stated, but the way in which they were stated. I would hope we all feel free to state our opinions in here, as long as we're not being dismissive of each other. I actually didn't find this book as obviously YA-slanted as you did -- All the Birds in the Sky fills that slot for me, jeez -- but I found there to be exactly the same bias, that everyone who was involved in the abortion, no matter how vestigially, is portrayed in a bad light or "turns out" badly or needs a redemption arc, but is still marked forever by it, etc.

And there is some wonderful, deep, meaningful and fun to read YA out there.


message 46: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments I think the objection was to Daniel's entering the argument by "calling bullshit on the author's feminist credentials," which reads as a personal attack rather than a response to the book.


message 47: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 470 comments Caroline wrote: "I think the objection was to Daniel's entering the argument by "calling bullshit on the author's feminist credentials," which reads as a personal attack rather than a response to the book."

Yes.


message 48: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 814 comments Yes. Right. Now I remember.


message 49: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 204 comments I found this book to be supremely average. And the implication here that people who don't like the book didn't read it in a "nuanced" way or, worse, read it through a "purity filter" is offensive. We are all book lovers who can simply disagree, I thought.

I didn't like this book because it tried to take on a ton of complicated topics: teen sex, suicide, parent-child relationships, adultery, religious judgment/influence, AND abortion. And in so choosing, it did not do any of them justice and felt a bit shallow. It did feel like people affected by Nadia's abortion were set on a punishment and/or redemption arc that didn't work for me.

Yet I found much of the writing to be beautiful and it kept me engaged, so it was difficult to realize that the good writing was just dressing for a pretty average book. I don't care about an author's politics...I knew nothing about her until this thread. I felt she tried to do something spectacular and was only marginally successful.


message 50: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments I don't care if people didn't like the book; i didn't much like it myself. I was trying to diplomatically talk around Daniel's comments about the validity of the author's feminism but apparently i shouldn't have tried to be diplomatic.


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