A Fresh Voice for a New Generation (and me); A Young Writer Marvels with her Debut Novel
In the seemingly endless sea of novels, new author, Brit Bennett and her book The Mothers, manages to have a distinct voice and to be a breath of fresh air. This is a unique and captivating contemporary story of young love, coming of age, small town secrets and so much more. Set in a black community in Southern California by the ocean, the main teen character, Nadia, is grieving the recent death of her mother. She acts out in unhealthy ways, such hanging out in bars late, avoiding her father, and getting romantically involved with Luke, the former football star of her high school who also happens to be the son of a local pastor. After getting pregnant, she decides to abort the baby and accept an academic scholarship out-of-state. Soon after, a series of life events ensues for Nadia who finds herself part of a love triangle of sorts involving Luke and a new friend, Aubrey.
Bennett’s style is approachable and almost lyrical. She deftly draws each character who are fully realized and completely engaging. The story is largely told from the perspective of the “church mothers” who observe Nadia- her relationships, her mistakes and her triumphs. The mothers are judgmental and gossipy, yet whimsical and adorable. They serve as a sort of Greek chorus.
“So we heard all about her sojourns across the border to dance clubs in Tijuana, the water bottle she carried around Oceanside High filled with vodka, the Saturdays she spent on base playing pool with Marines, nights that ended with her heels pressed against some man’s foggy window. Just tales, maybe, except for one we now know is true: she spent her senior year of high school rolling around in bed with Luke Sheppard and come springtime, his baby was growing inside her.”
The Mothers is confident and impressive debut novel that will surely put Bennett in the class of skilled and necessary voices that promote stories of diversity, such as Junot Diaz.