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But I'm new to BOTM and I just finished reading this book and had to get it off my chest. Especially the brilliant choice of narrator (which I feel often goes unused by authors)
I was left feeling an overwhelming loneliness. For the father betrayed by his pastor, and the pastor betrayed by his congregation. For the soldier, fighting for a country that does not fight for him, who had so much to offer someone who could not accept it. For the husband and wife who loved each other but not enough and not the most, who would remind each other of that loneliness with their very presence. For the husband abandoned by his wife and for the wife so filled with desperation that she abandoned her family. For the girl who lost not only her mother, but the unborn child that haunts her thoughts, the father drifting away across a vast ocean of grief, and the two people she loved for helping her stay afloat in her own ocean while they swam through theirs.
The narration, being objective and almost cold in tone, created a barrier that prevented the reader from fully absorbing the characters' pain, as if we were left to watch from shore as our hearts broke for these drowning, unreachable swimmers. This isolated the characters, and thereby the reader, leaving us not to feel the characters' immense loneliness but our own, surpassing sympathy and entering empathy, a more desolate place to be.
The Mothers made this type of narration possible. Even when they weren't blatantly doing the narration as we see in certain sections, the book smoothly reads in the same voice, one that embodies the inured mindset needed to tell an emotional tale so emotionlessly. They've been through it all, seen it all, felt it all, and perhaps even worse. The have the years of age that remove you from others pain while still being present for it. Present enough to pass it on like gossip.
And yet, they describe becoming the people they pray for, as if the entire book is a prayer for the people in it.
(By that argument and with the tone taken into consideration, they don't "become" the people they pray for very whole heartedly. Though my perspective is soured by my cynicism of church mothers.)
Is the author making a political statement against abortion or for abortion in this book? Is she making a political statement at all? On one hand her abortion seems to "haunt" Nadia through out the book, on the other hand her abortion made it possible to go to college, study abroad etc.....
What is the author trying to say at the very end of the book? I want to know exactly what message she's trying to convey.
I've found that in many of the reviews I've read, including on this page, that people seem to feel that the author did a great job exploring a black community in southern california. As quite the opposite by definition, a white female from the east coast, I felt that I could relate to the book - at least the sentiments - and never found my self saying 'wow, I more deeply understand what it's like to live in a black community'. Did others have this emotion? Did anyone observe passages that really explored the influence of race in this situation? Or was it more an exploration of a tight knit church community?
Why do you think Nadia didn't tell Aubrey sooner that both she and Luke had history together?
What do you think the use of the church ladies' narrative voice in certain chapters reflects about the novel and the place in which it is set?
Do you believe that Nadia and Luke were meant to be together? Is the concept of a shared destiny problematic? Why or why not?
Although the pastor is crucial to the story, his presence and voice are both minimal within the novel. Why do you think Brit Bennett made this stylistic choice?