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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.
"Conveys the complexities and challenges of young love with refreshing honesty and beautiful sentences. I cared about Brit Bennett's characters, and the choices they made, and couldn’t stop reading this remarkable debut."
–Vendela Vida, author of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty
"Brit Bennett is so bracingly talented on the page. . . [The Mothers is] astute and absorbing and urgent."
"This book is something special: sage and sad and spectacular. This is a book about how the choices you make, and those made for you, shape the lovely, hopeful tragedy of your life."
"[A] brilliant, tumultuous debut novel… [Bennett] shows extraordinary compassion for her flawed characters… an exquisitely developed story."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A wise and sad coming-of- age story showing how people are shaped by their losses."
"Wonderful – warm and tender and necessary."
–Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing
"Brit Bennett is the real thing. The Mothers is a stellar novel — moving, thoughtful. Stunning. I couldn’t put it down. I’m so excited to have this brilliant new voice in the world."
–Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn
"Brit Bennett’s The Mothers is a brilliant exploration of friendship, desire, inheritance, the love we seek, and the love we settle for. It is the kind of book that from its first page seduces you into knowing that the heartbreak coming will be worth it."
–Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
"LIQUIDLY WRITTEN… A BOOK TO BOLT DOWN IN A SINGLE READ."
"Brit Bennett’s The Mothers is an engaging and assured debut novel of depth, and introspective power. It succeeds as a brilliant study of a modern black woman, and as a lyrical and majestic portrait of her place in society."
—Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen
"Brit Bennett's masterful debut is brimming with unforgettable scenes and the sort of keenly-observed, precise language that makes you look at your own relationships anew. Told with the wisdom of a seasoned, compassionate storyteller, The Mothers is a novel about community, friendship, grief and growth. The two women at the center of this novel are characters you will find yourself thinking about long after you've turned the last page-- they pull you in close and never let you go. Bennett is a brilliant and much-needed new voice in literature."
–Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award-finalist The Turner House