The Mothers by Brit Bennett

the mothers

“Black boys couldn’t afford to be reckless, she had tried to tell him. Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead.”

3.5/5 stars


Fiction – Contemporary

Goodreads Summary

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.

“But we were girls once, which is to say, we have all loved an ain’t-shit man. No Christian way of putting it. There are two types of  men in the world: men who are and men who ain’t about shit.”


In picking this as my next read, I was really hopeful that it would be my first 5★ read after hearing rave reviews about it. While I did enjoy this book, it just didn’t live up to what I was hoping for!

Contemporary fiction is quickly becoming my favorite genre—I really love the in-depth characterization. It makes me feel like I really know the characters. For me, this book reminded me of An American Marriage, which I consider to be a good thing!

This book was an overall quick read that had both humor and tragedy. I found one of my favorite book quotes ever (see above), about different types of men, that entertained me endlessly! It hits on some heavy content—both abortion and infidelity. The author does a great overall job of being unbiased toward these issues. While this wasn’t my favorite book I’ve ever read (they can’t all be!), it was still a very powerful, inspiring, and captivating story that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.

If you’ve read The Mothers, what did you think of it? Do you have any favorite books that fall in the contemporary fiction category?

Author Brit Bennett’s website

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