“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around in our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”
The Mothers is a fantastic debut novel. This was the chosen book for Kray’s Book Club’s -July Buddy Read on Instagram. There is so much complexity wrapped in one book and written with such delicacy and ease that it was hard for me to believe that this was Brit Bennett’s Debut Novel.
It is the story about Nadia, Luke and Aubrey, who fall in love and form strong bonds as teenagers, and come together and fall apart many times over the span of many years. Set within a contemporary Black community in Southern California. This is a novel about love and community ( church community being a big part of the whole), of parental figures and youthful indiscretions. It’s great storytelling and the author holds your attention over a span of a decade or more which is saying something.
There is a collective voice that narrates the incidents and major life landmarks of these three youngsters. This collective voice is that of “The Mothers” a group of older Church ladies who have their finger on the pulse of things since they are such an integral part of the community. They are kind of like a chorus in a tragic Greek Drama who describe and comment in a collective voice upon the happenings of the main plot. All three protagonists have had a very different maternal influence, one’s mother takes her own life at a young age, the other knowingly abandons her daughter for another man and a third who is well-meaning but controlling and judgemental.
There is an intense craving for belonging and love that runs throughout the book. Intense craving for parental love, romantic love and even love from a community. The novel is incredibly realistic, relatable and poignant with some breathtaking sentences that pack a punch. It forces your to ponder on the choices you make when you are young and how they follow you into adulthood. It is one of those books that has an all too real, not definite ending, which fits the book but left me longing for something more. But I realise that wouldn’t be true to this identifiable tale. I am leaving a few quotes from ‘The Mothers’ that I thought was beautifully penned and make me eager to read more of Brit Bennett.
“We would’ve told her that all together, we got centuries on her. If we laid all our lives toes to heel, we were born before the Depression, the Civil War, even America itself. In all that living, we have known men. Oh girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more. —”
“Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip.”
“This had always frightened her about marriage: how satisfied married people seemed, how unable they were to ask for more. She couldn’t imagine feeling satisfied.”