The Mothers by Brit Bennett
A Novel

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...I will tell you this: Despite Bennett’s thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it’s the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book’s urgency.
-NY Times

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 
NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize Finalist
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction Finalist
An NPR Best Book of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016
A Vogue Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
One of Elle.com's Best Books of the Year

"Ferociously moving … despite Bennett’s thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it’s the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book’s urgency." –The New York Times Book Review

"Luminous… engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss." –People, Pick of the Week 

"Fantastic… a book that feels alive on the page." –The Washington Post

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 a secret.

"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 unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a "what if" can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.
 

About Brit Bennett

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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.
Author Residence: San Diego, California Author Image 1
 
Published October 11, 2016 by Riverhead Books. 286 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Mothers
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2

NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Annalisa Quinn on Oct 13 2016

Nevertheless, Bennett's failures are ones of experience, not talent or insight. It is very clear that she will only get better from here. And perhaps, next time, she won't be alone.

Read Full Review of The Mothers: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Oct 11 2016

...a work of fiction demands more than intermittently perceptive moments to come to life. Unfortunately, The Mothers lacks the narrative and linguistic energy to sustain a reader's belief in the world that Bennett has contrived.

Read Full Review of The Mothers: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Mira Jacob on Nov 02 2016

“The Mothers” is a lush book, a book of so many secrets, betrayals and reckonings that to spill them in the lines of a review instead of letting them play out as the author intended would be silly.

Read Full Review of The Mothers: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Mira Jacob on Nov 06 2016

...I will tell you this: Despite Bennett’s thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it’s the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book’s urgency.

Read Full Review of The Mothers: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Naomi Skwarna on Oct 24 2016

...Bennett is cannily aware of these narrative patterns, even while forging something entirely new, just as a child recognizes both the closeness and the distance of the mother.

Read Full Review of The Mothers: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Marta Bausells on Nov 27 2016

Bennett breaks the stereotype of absent African-American fathers, removing mothers from the picture instead. Written between her own high-school years and her mid-20s, it presents Bennett as an exceptionally promising new voice in American fiction.

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Reader Rating for The Mothers
82%

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