August is a good time to enjoy the sun with a side of a good book, and maybe a cold drink, or two. So this month we’ve picked Brit Bennett’s The Mothers as our sunshine companion. The story is set in a contemporary black community of Southern California. It’s the story of love, ambition, community, and the secrets we keep. The protagonists—Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey—are young and living their lives. It is the last season of high school 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, and a pregnancy that results from this teen romance 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 adults and still living in debt to the choices they made. Caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, they’re dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently?
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.
This is Bennett’s debut novel. Published in 2016, The Mothers was an instant bestseller. In fact, when she started writing it Bennett was the same age as the novel’s protagonist. And like the 17-year old protagonist, Bennett was a smart and ambitious African-American eager to get out of her hometown of Oceanside, California. The author’s education and writing took her to places she, and no one before in her family, had ever been. She spent a total of seven years writing this book, claiming in all that time she never got bored with it. And as a result, she’s written a critically-acclaimed, well-loved work of fiction that we’re very excited to read!
We hope you’ll read with us and share your thoughts using #booklymark… happy reading!
For more on Bennett and The Mothers check out this great NYT article.