Bennett, Brit. The Mothers
Booklist Reviews 2016 September #2
*Starred Review* California native Bennett's debut novel, set in the U.S. Marine Corps base city of Oceanside, unflinchingly examines the consequences of secret decisions born of pain and fear as they play out in the lives of three young people, decade by decade. The story is narrated in part by the eponymous mothers, a chorus of elder church women who—having lived through it all—demonstrate no compunction in judging and discussing the choices made by their fellow parishioners of the Upper Room Chapel. Seventeen-year-old Nadia Turner, beautiful, brilliant and broken by the recent suicide of her mother, hastily falls in love with Luke, the pastor's son, who is literally broken, having suffered a college career-ending football injury. An unplanned pregnancy followed by the decision to terminate ends their relationship as quickly as it began. Nadia befriends Aubrey, who is harboring her own deep, if unseen, wounds. Nadia's eventual escape from Oceanside ends when she returns to care for her ill father, and, inevitably, the secrets all three have been keeping from each other are exposed in an eruption as shattering as one would expect, with life-altering fallout. Bennett's writing is both wrenching and light. She deftly blends the complex and serious situations her characters face with innate humor and understanding in this deeply affecting coming-of-age story. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 May #1
In a contemporary black community in Southern California, 17-year-old Nadia Turner and 21-year-old Luke Sheppard launch a soulful affair. She's lost her mother to suicide, he's lost a football career to injury, and the decisions they make when Nadia becomes pregnant will reverberate throughout their lives, particularly complicating Nadia's close friendship with the devout Aubrey. Bennett has won numerous honors, notably the University of Michigan's Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction.[Page 48]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2016 September #1
High school senior Nadia Turner is beautiful and smart, with an acceptance at a good college already in hand when she lapses into self-destructive behavior after her mother's unexplained suicide. She pursues Luke, the ne'er-do-well son of the pastor at the Upper Room, her family church at the center of an African American community outside Camp Pendleton, CA. When she becomes pregnant, Nadia decides to preserve her academic future and demands that Luke find the money for an abortion. The impact of her decision ripples beyond Luke and herself in the years ahead, to Nadia's pious best friend Aubrey, and throughout the entire church community. The eponymous Mothers are the Upper Room's elderly women's prayer group, who serve as the novel's Greek chorus; their collective voice provides an evenhanded but distanced moral view. VERDICT This debut novel has all the characteristics of new adult lit, with its college-age protagonists, complicated sexual relationships, and nimble story line, but making this easy categorization is selling it short. With its sophisticated, nuanced tone, it's a poignant tale of the hard decisions twentysomethings may face. [See Prepub Alert, 4/3/16; "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 29.]—Reba Leiding, emeritus, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2016 July #2
Bennett's brilliant, tumultuous debut novel is about a trio of young people coming of age under the shadow of harsh circumstances in a black community in Southern California. Deftly juggling multiple issues, Bennett addresses the subjects—abortion, infidelity, religious faith, and hypocrisy, race—head-on. At 17, Nadia Turner's life is topsy-turvy. Six months after learning of her mother's suicide, Nadia winds up pregnant and decides to abort the baby. The unborn baby's father, Luke—a preacher's son—gives Nadia the money to terminate but falls back on his promise to pick her up at the clinic after her appointment, causing a fissure in their relationship. Nadia's secret decision haunts her for decades—through college in Michigan, law school, and an extended trip back home to care for her ailing father. Meanwhile, the slow-to-build trust between Luke and Aubrey, Nadia's bible-thumping childhood best friend, who knows nothing of Nadia's past, is threatened when Nadia and Luke reunite and rip open old wounds after Luke and Aubrey's wedding. There's much blame to go around, and Bennett distributes it equally. But she also shows an extraordinary compassion for her flawed characters. A Greek chorus of narrating gossipy "Mothers" (as they're referred to in the text) from the local Upper Room Chapel provides further context and an extra layer to an already exquisitely developed story. Agent: Julia Kardon, Mary Evans Inc. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC