A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Mothers - A Novel by Brit Bennett- Feature and Review


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.



The MothersThe Mothers by Brit Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a 2016 Riverhead publication.

This is another one of those ‘buzz’ books I wouldn’t ordinarily read, but my curiosity got the better of me, but I just had to see for myself why the book garnered such high praise.

The ‘Mothers’ are the women of Upper Room Chapel who basically gossip about the members of the church and keep track of the families who attend.

They narrate the story of Nadia, Luke, and Audrey, three young black people living in Southern California. Their lives interconnect during pivotal points in their young lives, forging strong emotional bonds, in the process, but the decisions made in their youth, the secrets they keep, will haunt them all through their adult lives.

The story is very emotional, the characters filled with a deep longing, regret, and desire. The reader is like a spectator as the characters live through life’s ups and downs, make life altering choices, experience love, friendship, betrayal, and cope with the consequences. Life is not a fairy tale and this story demonstrates how, despite our best efforts, life throws us curve balls that upend all our good intentions, sending us off in directions we never envisioned.

This is not a resolvable, wrapped up in a nice neat little bow, happily ever after type novel. It's a sad story, but one that describes life and the repercussions of our decisions. The writing is sharp, but, deep character analysis is minimal. I felt like, instead of reading, I was watching all this on television or something, or like I was on the outside looking in. The inner thoughts of the characters are not prevalent, which is something I wished for.

Still, I do appreciate that this is a debut novel, and the author certainly has some writing chops, and I do see why the story, with its contemporary setting, its boldness, the contrasts of religion with difficult topics, like abortion, resonates with readers.

Overall, this is an impressive debut, and I am glad I gave the book a try. Brit Bennett is definitely an author to keep an eye on.

* I received a copy of this book from https://quarterly.co/products/literar....

What makes our box extra special is that the author will write 15-20 annotations on post-its throughout their novel, so the reader will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, if you will, at their creative writing process.

Here's the link more information as well: https://quarterly.co/products/literar...





Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and 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. She is a National Book Foundation "5 under 35" honoree, and her essays are featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

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