Note: All quotes were taken down from the audio–I have tried to be as accurate as possible.
Synopsis: A classic good girl–boy–bad girl love triangle set in L.A. and centered around the Upper Room Church, but not a Christian novel.
Review: Britt Bennett is a fabulous writer! Let me just say that I loved the words she wrote. I pulled over, listening to this book in the car, to scribble down the quotes I am including here. That’s the mark of a really good book. She perfectly captures the culture, rhythms and cadancece of life and speech in a conservative African-American Church and it’s congregents.
I love this line, something I haven’t heard since the 80’s from coworkers who attended a similar church in a similar neighborhood:
“[she wondered] if you could carry her to the drugstore?“
Pitch perfect. No lady that age would have asked for a ride. Rather they would ask politely if you could carry them in your car. Sweet.
“…we were already mothers….some by heart and some by womb.”
Pastor and Mrs. Shepard of Upper Room Church have an only child, their son Luke. Enter two motherless girls. Luke becomes involved with Nadia Turner, a girl adrift since her mother’s suicide. Her USMC father, dealing with his own grief, has no idea what his only child is up to. It’s hard to say more than this without spoiling it. Another young woman, Aubrey, attend the church and is friends with Nadia. She’s a classic good girl, but she too is suffering in a big way. Now, before you scream “Depressing Oprah book” let me reassure you that it’s not.
This is a book that will enfold you into its community. You will be embraced by its amazing language. Each character has very believable flaws. They behave in ways we do, or as someone we know does. They have beliefs and prejudices. They reason and rationalize with the best of them.
What I loved:
Language–so well written. Some comments have mentioned profanity. This was primarily in teen-to-teen conversations where it almost the norm today, whether we like it or not.
Values–the good girl is not mocked or excluded for her choice. The Marines shown were shown as decent men.
Lesson–Sorry doesn’t fix this. Actions have consequences–and yes, they can be lifelong and hurt others.
Religion and Church–this is not at all a preachy book, but it shows the community of the church in all its strengths and weaknesses. A glimpse of the cult of celebrity that can arise around the pastor and his family.
“We don’t think of ourselves as ‘prayer warriors.’ A man must of come up with that term. Men think anything difficult is war. But prayer is more delicate than battle. Especially intercessory prayer….you have to step inside their body [and become them],”
“Magic you wanted was a miracle. Magic you didn’t want is a haunting.”
What wasn’t that good:
The weakness–if there is one at all–is that I didn’t like or respect any of the main characters. The bad girl was annoying, the boy weak, the good girl a doormat. Their actions were predictable.
“…she looked like the kind of girl who could go to college, major in something like feminist studies and still expect to be taken seriously….”
I did admire Robert, Nadia’s father, even though he couldn’t help his daughter in grief.
Yet I know that that the predictability is what draws us in, what enfolds us in this story. It’s a classic tale retold for today, in the language of today, in the morality, hypocrisy and idiosyncrasies of today thru an issue that divides the country like no other today.
This will be an excellent movie–I’m positive of that. I hope some unknowns are “made” from the movie.
I look forward to many more books from Brit Bennett.
The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett
Have you read The Mothers? Leave me comments with your thoughts or link to your own review. I love to see what other readers have thought of a book I enjoyed.