Who hasn't wondered to themselves how their life would have turned out if they had made different choices? Those fleeting thoughts have passed through me throughout the years and, while I do not hold regrets, I do wonder what path I would be on now if I made different choices during pivotal moments of my life. The Mothers by Brit Bennett encompasses that life conundrum with complex characters, a life altering decision, and a Greek chorus presence narrating their stories. A story of decisions, destiny, and mothers; being one, having one, and missing one.
Set in Southern California, a decision made by Nadia and Luke as teenagers sets the trajectory for their lives. Nadia hides the truth from everyone, including her best friend, Aubrey. The secret follows all three of them throughout their lives, eventually uncovering itself. The Mothers is about the choices we make that impact our path in life, the relationships we make along the way, and the expectations we live up to and fail to meet.
The Mothers is one of those books that gets better and better the more you reflect on it. If you were to speed read this one and throw it back on your shelf, you wouldn't get the full effect of the book. The Mothers is meant to be savored and reflected on. The more you think about it, the more parts of the story unravel and show their hidden meaning. To me, that makes for a killer book.
Each character is fighting their own silent battle. Nadia is troubled and confused following the unexpected suicide of her mother. Her father is distant and aloof and she fills the loneliness void with the comfort of Luke. Luke is a preacher's son whose life has been a series of disappointments. He does not live up to the mold he is cast in by his parents and a horrible injury sidelines his dreams of playing football in college. Audrey has never really known her mother and has a dark history of abuse that follows her in the shadows. She finds comfort in church and finds a deep friendship with Nadia, where they fill the holes in their hearts with each other.
This story is told from the perspective of "The Mothers" who are the older women who attend the town's church. This adds for an interesting take on Nadia, Luke, and Audrey's stories as it is told from their eyes and ears. This makes for a story filled with gossip and bias from their own experiences, but also gives you a bird's eye view of their lives. "The Mothers" gave me Greek chorus vibes and each chapter started with a life lesson or regret that "The Mothers" share as the life events of these three unfold.
"Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into it's grip."
"The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains."
"Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead."