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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Mothers: A Novel

This is a good story. I wanted to nab this book so bad at Book Expo last year, and I missed the official drop. I was in line for another book, and I saw the woman behind me had a copy. I was lamenting to her how much I wanted it, and she was like, "Here, take my copy." I replied, "No no no, I coldly imagine doing that," and she was like, "Girl, I run a book club with over a thousand members. I'll just head back to the booth and get another copy. They love me." WHAT?!? The amazing kindness of strangers brought me Brit Bennett's incredible debut, The Mothers.

Nadia Turner was just like any other high school girl until her mother killed herself. The grieving girl finds herself in the throes of Luke Sheppard, the preacher's son and no-longer-fixture at Upper Room. When she finds herself pregnant and needing an abortion, Luke hands her the money and disappears from the waiting room. This choice will alter both of their lives in profound ways. After graduation, Nadia heads out to see the world without looking back, and Luke moves on into a deeper depression and decisions that will alter his future. Years later, life will see these two crash into each others' life course again. 

I had a hard time getting into this book; I started reading it then put it down for a couple of weeks. When I came back to it, I was fully in it to win it. I needed a focus, I think, that I didn't have when I started it. The reason this was necessary is because Bennett is one of these writers that has a lot to say in not a lot of words, and I needed to be clued into that and willing to listen while she whispered. It was astonishing, really, to get into this book and realize the gift that was wrapped between its covers. Bennett's prose is like an undercurrent; it's so outstanding that you only realize upon finishing what a gift it was to read it. Like one of those comedies that moves so fast you only laugh after you are a paragraph out -- a "gotcha" moment. 

Her characters came alive -- how easy it is to understand Nadia's wanderlust combined with her guilt for leaving her father. She was an entirely easy-to-relate-to character while keeping a cool distance for us readers. I hated Luke, yet still had a deep sympathy for him when physical tragedy struck the second time. Aubrey, Nadia's best friend, was like someone I knew and cared for myself. They story was insightful, but it was these characters that kept drawing me back. 

I don't know the lady who gave up her copy for me, but I would like to thank her for her kindness and for passing on one hell of a book to me. I'll repay your kindness by giving this book to someone who needs it as much as I did. 

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