The Mothers

The Mothers

I enjoyed reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (see my blog) a couple of months ago so much that I immediately put Bennett’s previous book, The Mothers, on my reading list. It is also a cracking good read.

The Mothers is the story of Nadia Turner and her first love Luke Sheppard, whose stories are bound together through the years by the abortion they had when Nadia was a teenager. Neither of them ever really get over it, and Nadia often dreams about ‘Baby’ and what her life would have been like if she hadn’t left her California home and flown to the other side of the States to do her degrees and had instead had her baby with Luke.

Nadia’s life is also shaped by the suicide of her mother, who dies when she is just seventeen, and whose death leads to Nadia seeking solace with the older Luke and then getting pregnant. Nadia’s father is meanwhile struggling to be the father she needs and cannot deal with his own grief or hers, so Nadia turns to her best friend Aubrey for comfort. Nadia and Aubrey are like sisters and share difficult family situations, as Aubrey has left home after being abused by her stepfather. Their bond survives Nadia leaving for college and seldom returning, but becomes strained when Aubrey and Luke then get together.

Through all of the this are ‘The Mothers’ who are the prayer group at the Upper Room Chapel and who see themselves as the moral compass of the community. They take a dim view of Nadia even before they find out about her abortion, and try to shoo her away from Luke, who is the son of the pastor at the Upper Room. When Nadia returns home to look after her father after he has an accident and nearly dies she reconnects with Luke and The Mothers sense trouble ahead.

This is a great book, full of regret, paths not chosen, lives intertwined, grief, longing and pain, but if that makes it sound like a dismal read, it’s not at all. Bennett’s is a truly original and captivating voice.