Read Remark Book Review - The Mothers by Britt Bennett

Book Review: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

One-sentence summary:

Nadia, a teen who recently lost her mother, navigates her tumultuous young womanhood as The Mothers look on.


The Mothers of this book function like a Greek chorus, speaking with their collective voices. They murmur warnings, but deliver them only to the air. They pass judgment, but to an empty (or upper) room. Their cautions and admonitions fall on no ears except each other’s and the audience’s.

Which come to think of it, is not very motherly at all.

The Mothers have already lived their lives and experienced their heartbreaks. Now they shake their heads and tsk-tsk over Nadia as she experiences her own.

Being Mothers, one would think they’d see this motherless child and want to fold her into their arms. Instead, they sing of her missteps, almost triumphing in the revelry.

Nadia can’t seem to make any right moves in her community’s eyes. The Mothers refer to her as a Prodigal child, which is absurd considering she’s been away at college. When she acts as a free taxi service, The Mothers gossip about the quiet attitude she has one day.

Nadia is a sympathetic character to me. She’s not perfect, but she’s not the failure her community makes her out to be. She’s trying to live a good life and is admonished at every turn.

The Mothers is another of The Morning News Tournament of Books shortlist contenders, and a deserving one at that. It’s going head to head against High Dive in Match 4 on the fancy brackets. I think it’ll win that round, but lose to Version Control in Quarterfinal 2. We’ll see!

The discussion on this book on Goodreads is lively and diverse, and even somewhat contentious. Some people see The Mothers as a condemnation of abortion. Some see it as a criticism of the church. It’s interesting to see how opinions vary.

To me, it all comes back to Nadia and the Mothers. She keeps trying, and the chorus keeps singing. Always maintaining their cold distance.