Date Completed: 11/1/2016
I cannot possibly rave enough about this book. We are introduced to Nadia, Aubrey, and Luke from the time they are in High School. Bennett follows the trajectory of their lives, observing how they grow up through their own eyes, their parents eyes, and those of The Mothers. The Mothers are the elderly women of the church, of Upper Room. They watch, observe, and share all the intricate details of the lives of the churchgoers, creating and sharing gossip amongst themselves and others. However, the three protagonists manage to keep their own secrets for longer than anyone expected, but when it comes out in the wash the impact it has on each of their lives is larger than could be imagined.
“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 unseen.”
I’d seen so much about The Mothers from Bookstagram and other social media. Bennett’s novel was slated to be one of the best books of November. Although I wouldn’t typically read a book with this kind of drama, I could not put this book down and found it to be one of my favorite books I’ve read all year, perhaps even my favorite book of 2016!
Bennett’s descriptions were luscious yet not over the top. The cadence of her words had such a steady pulsing rhythm that carries the reader through the story with ease and grace. I love the shifting point of views that are all told from third person and all blend seamlessly into the flow of the story. Bennett jumps back and forth through time, but each shift in time seems like a memory, like it belongs both in the present and the past. Her skill with writing is beyond impressive and I will read every book she writes.
Bennett is also not afraid to make profound statements on racism and sexism in America, the ways in which it still persists. Each protagonist has these moments in their day to day life, and Bennett takes the time to highlight them subtly, mostly by just crafting such beautiful sentences that allows the observations and feelings to speak for themselves.
“Now she looked out into lecture halls filled with white kids from rural Michigan towns; in discussion sections, she listened to white classmates champion the diversity of their school, how progressive and accepting it was, and maybe if you had come from some farm town, it seemed that way. She felt the sly type of racism here, longer waits for tables, white girls who expected her to walk on the slushy part of the sidewalk, a drunk boy outside a salsa club yelling that she was pretty for a black girl. In a way, subtle racism was worse because it made you feel crazy.”
I don’t want to say anything about the plot because the drama is what makes the story, but I very much encourage you to go out and try this book whether or not you are religious, a teenager, a mother, or share any qualities whatsoever with any of these characters. This book blew me away and I hope you feel the same.
This is Brit Bennett’s debut novel. Here is her lovely website where you can find out more about her and her book.