“When we first heard, we thought it might be that type of secret, although, we have to admit, it had felt different. Tasted different too. All good secrets have a taste before you tell them…”
Ahhh, you ask, what is this secret? It’s the very center of The Mothers by Brit Bennett.
The mothers are the church ladies, the elderly widowed or never-married women that bring casseroles when there is a death in a family, they greet new neighbors, or they help welcome home a new baby. And these mothers watch over the two women in this book, Nadia and Aubrey.
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Nadia, as a teenager, lost her mother to suicide. She and her father have a tenuous relationship at best. He is mired in his own guilt and grief and barely notices the world around him.
She returned home one night (late) and found him in his recliner, watching television in the darkened room. He always looked surprised when she unlocked the front door, like he hadn’t even noticed that she’d been gone.
Her father works for the church called the Upper Room as much as he can, lending his truck and his ability to run errands. The pastor and his wife both work in the church offices. And they have a son named Luke.
Nadia knows Luke (he is older than she is by several years) but has never been overly friendly with him. Soon after her mother has died she finds herself at the local eatery called Fat Charlie’s. Luke works there. He had a career planned as a football player but was severely injured and he has returned home. They talk and then begin to see one another without making it public. And then one day…
…she knew that Fat Charlie’s was dead between lunch and happy hour, so after her pregnancy test returned positive, she rode the bus over to tell Luke.
What the two of them do next will be the underlying current of their lives.
Entering into this African-American community at this same time is Aubrey. She becomes the dearest friend Nadia has ever had. Aubrey and Nadia relate to each other’s life stories (except for the part about Luke). Aubrey is living with her sister, having left the care of her mother and her mom’s abusive boyfriend. Perhaps, the title of this book is about the mothers of these two girls.
Now, does Nadia stay in the relationship with Luke after finding the close friendship with Aubrey? What happens with Nadia’s father when Nadia goes away to college and does not return even for school breaks? Aubrey is Nadia’s closest friend so what happens when Nadia is away for such a long time? Will secrets be revealed and who will be affected by them?
This book was the first from the author and was widely acclaimed as a wonderful first book. I did find moments that were well written and I love her poetic writing style. In fact, I read this book because I had already finished reading her second book The Vanishing Half. I am glad I read it and I encourage you to try both. You will find yourself re-reading passages that are just delicious.
Four stars for this one! It was great, but I was left with questions and although I know books don’t always end by tying up loose threads I still wanted to know more. There is also just a tinge of sadness about this one, too.
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
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