An urgent and provocative debut from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a book about community and ambition, love and friendship, and living up to expectation in contemporary black America.
It begins with a secret, then follows that secret through the lives of three different characters – from high school into adulthood – tracing its impact far beyond their Southern California youth.
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken seventeen-year-old beauty. She’ll be the first in her family to go to college, if she indeed leaves home as she intends in the fall. But meanwhile, mourning her mother’s recent suicide, she has taken up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, handsome but lacking direction, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables. They are young; it’s not serious; they keep their relationship to themselves. But the secret that results from this romance – and the subsequent cover-up – will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.
As Nadia hides the truth from everyone, including Aubrey, her chaste best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults, still shadowed by the choices they made in their youth, and by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
With her stunning first novel, Brit Bennett demonstrates a moving understanding of the human landscape, the way that betrayals and losses accrue and swell and ultimately shape whole communities.
With wisdom, empathy, and insight, The Mothers asks whether “what if” can be more powerful than experience itself. Whether, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, and to the communities that have parented us.