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The Mothers: an emotional rollercoaster


“Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip.” Released on October 11th, The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a young adult novel that grapples with the “what ifs” of life, captivating the reader with a number of complex and intertwining storylines. Although I started reading the book with low expectations, The Mothers ended up being an emotional novel that pleasantly surprised me by delving into complicated topics, from the aftermath of suicide to the consequences of abortion.

According to the synopsis published on Google Books, “it is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. 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.”

Although the plot summary boils the novel down to a “teen romance” and an accidental pregnancy, The Mothers is so much more than that. In fact, a majority of the book revolves around Nadia’s relationship with Audrey, a girl she befriends after her mother’s suicide. While Nadia has to struggle with the loss of her mother, Aubrey has to wrestle with her choice to leave her mother and escape the abusive man her mother is dating. One line from the novel sums up the different, but equally painful, conflict they have to face: “Her mother was dead, but what could be worse than knowing that your mother was alive somewhere but she wanted a man who hit her more than she wanted you?…What did it feel like to be the one who left?”

The Mothers also spends more time exploring the issues surrounding Nadia’s abortion than on the romantic aspect of her relationship with the father. Neither Nadia and the father of her aborted child can move on from their relationship and they remain stuck in between the past and the future. Their nameless child, simply referred to as “Baby”, haunts them for the rest of their lives, even as Nadia goes on to attend college and Luke marries another girl.

Ultimately, Bennett crafts a meaningful story with realistic, 3-dimensional characters. She is able to touch the reader with moving lines about grief, friendship, and love, and shows that in reality, life doesn’t have a happy ending. The book also talks about the choices we make and the lasting consequences we have to face, something that is relevant to students making important life choices in high school.

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