NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Bittersweet, sexy, morally fraught.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Luminous… engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss.“ –People, Pick of the Week
“Fantastic… a book that feels alive on the page.” –The Washington Post
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.
A New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize, a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, and others.
“Ferociously moving. . .a lush book, a book of so many secrets, betrayal. . .Despite Bennett’s thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it’s the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book’s urgency. . . I found myself reading not to find out what happens to the characters, but to find out who they are.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Ms. Bennett allows her characters to follow their worst impulses, and she handles provocative issues with intelligence, empathy and dark humor. Her risk-taking pays off.” –The New York Times
“[A] compelling debut.” –The New Yorker
“Delivers lines that you’ll want to savor and read out loud — because it’s a story about secrets and betrayals, and part of the pleasure is your own sighs and gasps. It’s both intimate and epic in scope. . .It hums along at a brisk, emotional pace — the kind of story that feels like it’s moving fast, but really, it’s moving deep.” –NPR
“[Bennett’s] storytelling does what all truly good fiction does: it draws you in and, on a universal level, connects with you and makes you think. . .The Mothers is a thought-provoking novel that will resonate long after it is read.” –USA Today
“A fantastic debut novel. . .Some novels take place as you read them, while others grow more complicated as you think back on them. Bennett has written that rare combination: a book that feels alive on the page and rich for later consideration. . .Bennett is a writer to watch.” –The Washington Post
“One of the most exciting debuts of the fall.” –LA Times
“Luminous. . .engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss.” –People
“[A] striking debut. . .America needs more books like The Mothers, which quietly, but critically, deepens our appreciation of the black experience, and expands our collective understanding of what it means now to be growing up and grasping for direction and affection.” –O Magazine
“With echoes of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, The Mothers is not your typical coming-of-age novel: It begins with Nadia’s abortion, an experience often absent from our culture’s stories, and goes on to look at how women step in to nurture – and sometimes betray – one another.” –Vogue
“Brit Bennett comes charging out of Oceanside, California, with her stunning debut, The Mothers, a refreshingly fast-paced story of young love, race, and religious hypocrisy.” –Vanity Fair
“Bennett’s hypnotic writing hooks you from the very beginning and never lets you go in this spine-tingling study of destiny.” –Essence
“The Mothers isn’t about the consequences of decisions, but the repercussions of keeping secrets. . .funny, generous, and brightly written.” –GQ
“The Mothers is a beautifully written, sad and lingering book – an impressive debut for such a young writer.” –The Guardian
“A magical and startlingly realistic account of how powerfully our pasts can haunt us into adulthood—no matter how far we try to run from home.” –Harper’s Bazaar
“Gripping. . .the twenty-first century answer to Toni Morrison’s Sula. . .displays the same complexity in its portrayal of a pair of girlfriends as they grow together, and then apart, in a tight-knit African American community.” –Elle
“As much as The Mothers is steeped in black culture, it’s also pointedly, poignantly universal in its depiction of young love and friendship and hard choices. Maybe that qualifies as revolutionary, or maybe it’s just a really good novel, one that makes all the mess and magic of being young feel both new and familiar in the best kind of way.” –Entertainment Weekly
“Stunning… this heartbreaking coming of age tale takes a brutally honest look at how the decisions of our past can haunt us well into adulthood, no matter how far we try to distance ourselves.” – Real Simple