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The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Literary fiction

The Mothers

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Brit Bennett, on your first book!

by Brit Bennett

Quick take

Brit Bennett's words have the kind of warmth and familiarity as though the novel was a secret being told by your closest friend.

Why I love it

How do I start to describe The Mothers? Visceral? Riveting? Heart-wrenching? In the end this novel is all three and then some. The Mothers opens with a chorus of a collective female voice that divulges the tragic history of beautiful Nadia Turner. Years ago, her mother, Elise, committed suicide just moments after leaving their church, and now both Nadia and her father are left to deal with Elise's "unfinished business." Nadia must make her way even as her church congregation suspects that madness has cursed the Turner family to make unwise decisions in both life and love.

The question I kept asking myself as I read the novel is how free am I from my mother's choices? How free am I from the choices I made when I was younger and will I ever have to account for them in the future? In The Mothers, the past has the presence of a character-- it moves and changes just as Nadia does. At seventeen years old, Nadia falls in love with a fellow church member and loses her virginity to him. She winds up pregnant, and chooses to have an abortion, a decision that haunts the couple for years to come. Brit Bennett's voice is consistently charged with energy and yet simultaneously, her words have the kind of warmth and familiarity as though the novel was a secret being told by your closest friend.

The Mothers is a story about black women's sexuality and cultural judgment within a black church in California, in which female virgins are considered to be more prized and favored by God than those who are not. Men are exempt from this kind of communal judgment. Each line that Bennett produces cracks open with more intensity in order to ask over and over again: What if? The past and the present converge with each blossoming subplot until you begin to wonder what "mistakes" you've made in the past that changed your future, and whether or not you will have to grapple with them. The Mothers is a rollercoaster ride that picks up very quickly even while maintaining its complexity as it moves through the interwoven journeys of Brit Bennett's unforgettable characters.

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Member thoughts

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All (3804)
Love (2132)
Like (1512)
Dislike (160)
3867 ratings
  • 55% Love
  • 39% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Arlington, VA

    The Mothers is a wonderful book! The characters are genuine, flawed, and full of tangible emotions – like real life. If you appreciate books with complex and authentic characters, this book's for you.

  • Jersey City, NJ

    Beautiful book & debut! Such a intricately weaved story that really hooks you and make you ask questions. I dont think the conceit of “the mothers” was very strong, but I also didnt grow up in church.

  • Kansas City, MO

    I loved the chorus of“The Mothers-elderly church ladies-in the book, juxtaposing their mores with those of the youthful characters. Bennett shows the ripple effect of choices throughout a community.

  • Nashville, TN

    Definitely one of those classic stories that you know there’ll be more revealed and more depth each time it’s read! Nothing is as simple as it seems and for sure would recommend to anyone and everyone

  • Manassas, VA

    Was immediately drawn into the story and the characters’ lives and the ways they are secretly woven together. The author tackles difficult scenarios well and loved her use of the church as a character

  • Chesterfield , MO

    A thoughtful, book that explores characters completely. Light on plot but a rich reading experience. Not surprised this is Bennett’s debut as The Vanishing Half is just as amazing with plot to spare.

  • San Francisco , CA

    There is something about this story that is so relatable even though I have not found myself in any of these situations. Brit Bennett's writing is so beautiful and authentic to each of the characters.

  • Aurora , CO

    Beautifully intertwines multiple perspectives that honor real human emotion. From these emotions the reader begins to reflect on their own choices and their own alternate realities that will never be.

  • Mtichellville, MD

    It’s official, Brit Bennet is my new favorite author. I absolutely loved this book. I loved how she wove the commentary of the mothers throughout the story. My only critique is that I wanted more.

  • Portland, OR

    A beautiful, memorable story. I felt truly engaged in the challenging story of this young woman, and at times felt like I was dancing through the alluring prose that the author penned onto the pages.

  • Honolulu, HI

    I loved this - it made me truly feel the agony of a path not taken and how, working against our chances for true happiness, we try to shore up the walls we build. Our failings can't be hidden forever.

  • Durham, NC

    Well-written novel that highlights mothering, motherhood, and lack thereof. I appreciated the fact that this novel describes abortion in a context that isn't a life-changing, guilty traumatizing event

  • Nashville , TN

    A beautiful narrative about the choices mothers make and how those choices impact their daughters and future generations. Brit Bennett is a literary genius and I plan on reading everything she writes.

  • Hudson, WI

    This book really hit me hard. Life just never works! Some people are just meant to remain unsolved and un-happy. I really identified with Nadia... sometimes staying away is the only love you can give.

  • Long Branch, NJ

    Nice story line as well as thought provoking. I still think about many parts of it and the choices we make that affect us down the road...our surroundings and the affect that has without our choice..

  • Baltimore, MD

    I read The Vanishing Half before this & all I can say is that Brit Bennet is a genius storyteller. She really inhabits the characters she writes and makes them super realistic. This story was so human

  • Whiteville, NC

    I could not put this book down. Bennett tells a beautiful, relatable story about people with very different experiences than me. I cared about EVERY character, even when their not-so-great qualities.

  • Baltimore, MD

    A moving story of Black American community and culture. Bennett excels at showing how her characters learn and grow and approaching necessary topics. See full review on

  • Troy, IL

    Nadia & Aubry become friends because they attend the same church & they both know the loneliness of trying to grow up without a mother. But deceit and lies destroy their friendship & harm a marriage.

  • Reno, NV

    A book that makes you think about the importance of a female role model in a young woman's life. Even though it is rarely written about, girls need a strong role model to find their way through life.

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