The Mothers

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28815371It’s become a habit to buy a Kindle book whenever I have a flight. For my trip to Vegas for CES, I decided to go with The Mothers, a much buzzed-about debut novel from Brit Bennett with the most gorgeous cover. In short, it’s about some young people, their families and community, and the enduring impact of their decisions. #Life, right?

I started at the LaGuardia gate waiting area and by the time I got to my hotel in Vegas, I was about 50 percent done—which is to say it was a serious page turner. And nearly the perfect pick for this particular trip, because it would have lasted my entire return flight had that not been cancelled, sending me into a rerouted scramble comprising three planes and a train.

Anyway. Real quick…

Here’s what I liked: 

  • The book doesn’t really come out and declare the setting from the get go, so you have to piece together as you go along the who, when, and where. Soon it becomes clear it’s about a black community in contemporary America—SoCal to be specific. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s an unfamiliar mix of things to read about, which keeps it interesting.
  • The writing—lyrical, with satisfying detail, just sucks onto you
  • An authentic, committed portrayal of church life, with all its blessings and faults
  • The cover!!! (I didn’t really get to enjoy it on the Kindle version, but the image is ingrained in my mind.)

What I didn’t like as much: 

  • It feels like…the beat didn’t drop? There were compelling characters dealing with complex issues, but I didn’t end up feeling strongly for any of them. I had spent all this time following them through their life-changing moments, but everything still felt surface-level at the end.
  • The writing was vivid and addicting, but oddly more tell than show for me. Perhaps because plot points would be reheated by “the Mothers,” a group of older ladies at the church, which felt redundant.
  • Along those lines…There were plenty more mothers involved in the book than the “The Mothers” at church, but seeing how those church mothers were given narrator power throughout the book, I expected them to play a bigger part. The idea that a group of older women in a tight-knit community would have incredible wisdom among them is poignant, but I don’t think it was deployed to great impact here.

Did you read The Mothers? Thoughts???

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