The Mothers

By Brit Bennett, published in 2016

This is a story about best friends and first loves, with the added complications of lives that don’t go as planned. At the center is an abortion that is kept secret. As Nadia, Aubrey and Luke carry on after high school, we see the ramifications of Nadia’s choice to terminate her pregnancy as a 17 year old girl. But she doesn’t wonder “did I do the right thing?” It’s more a wondering about what might have been different had Luke been altogether different, had her father been more affectionate, had her mother been alive, and had she never befriended Aubrey. But most of all it asks what might have been if Nadia and Aubrey had mothers, for the mothers in this novel either watch from afar or abandon their children – they don’t protect or guide. But it is this lack that brings Nadia and Aubrey together, and helps them to be strong. The story develops beautifully over several years, jumping seamlessly from one milestone to the next, letting us see how grief unfolds in the lives of these characters. Three stars.

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