The Mothers

The Mothers

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with...

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Title:The Mothers
Author:Brit Bennett
Rating:
ISBN:0399184511
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:278 pages

The Mothers Reviews

  • Larry Hoffer
    Dec 02, 2016

    I'd rate this between 4 and 4.5 stars, closer to the latter.

    There's an incredible sense of longing that pervades Brit Bennett's terrifically compelling debut novel,

    . There's longing for love of all kinds—maternal, romantic, even the love of good friends—a longing for answers, a longing to find one's place in the world, and a longing for truth. But getting what you think you want doesn't always make things turn out right.

    Nadia Turner is smart, destined for a future far better than h

    I'd rate this between 4 and 4.5 stars, closer to the latter.

    There's an incredible sense of longing that pervades Brit Bennett's terrifically compelling debut novel,

    . There's longing for love of all kinds—maternal, romantic, even the love of good friends—a longing for answers, a longing to find one's place in the world, and a longing for truth. But getting what you think you want doesn't always make things turn out right.

    Nadia Turner is smart, destined for a future far better than her parents had. But at the end of her senior year of high school, her mother's unexpected suicide throws everything off-kilter. Her relationship with her father was never completely stable, and now he can't look at her for fear he's reminded of what he has lost. As she tries to make sense of this loss, she begins a relationship with Luke Sheppard, the son of the pastor of her church, a once-golden star athlete whose injury ends his future dreams, leaving him waiting tables at a local restaurant.

    Four years her senior, Luke knows his relationship with Nadia is wrong, but he finds comfort in it. Nadia wants more from Luke than he can give, she wants him to take her home to his parents, to hold her hand in public, but instead they must keep everything secret. But when she gets pregnant, she knows the last thing she wants is to be tied to her hometown; she's planning to attend the University of Michigan and isn't going to let anything, much less a baby, hold her back. Although Nadia makes the decision how to handle things, she's unaware of who has their hands in the aftermath.

    She spends the summer before college dealing with the consequences of her decision, and she befriends Aubrey Evans, a girl whose mother also abandoned her, although due to estrangement, not suicide. Aubrey and Nadia develop an intensely close bond, yet there is one secret that each girl never reveals to the other, secrets that affect them at every turn.

    "...she too understood loss, how it drove you to imagine every possible scenario that might have prevented it."

    When Nadia leaves for college, she doesn't come home for several years, and when she does, all of her relationships are more complicated than they were when she left. What does she want, to relive the past or continue building a life completely devoid of connection to what she's known? Can we really outrun the secrets we try to put behind us, no matter whom they may hurt?

    is showing up on a number of year-end best lists, and I certainly can see why. Bennett has created a narrative rich with emotion, secrets, and, yes, lies, and that sense of longing that I mentioned at the start of my review makes this story even richer. While the elements of the plot aren't necessarily unique, the puzzle pieces come together with great skill and beautiful storytelling. The narrative is accented by a Greek chorus of sorts comprised of the "mothers" of the local church—the elderly women who have seen it all more than once.

    It's funny: all I kept thinking of as I read this book was the John Mayer song, "Daughters," particularly these lines:

    I hope this book marks the start of a long and illustrious literary career for Bennett, because she certainly knows how to tell a story. The book isn't perfect, and some threads of the story are left unresolved, but it is still a rich and beautiful story worth reading.

    See all of my reviews at

    .

  • Maxwell
    Oct 15, 2016

    There's no denying that Brit Bennett can craft a great sentence. She's able to evoke so much emotion in a turn of phrase. But those moments are few and far between in this story of hard decisions, lifelong consequences, and the unbreakable bonds that humans share.

    I felt like this book had a lot of melodrama; many scenes don't feel authentic. I can see Bennett working behind the scenes, which doesn't give me much confidence as a reader. However, when she gets it right—wow, she hits the bullseye.

    There's no denying that Brit Bennett can craft a great sentence. She's able to evoke so much emotion in a turn of phrase. But those moments are few and far between in this story of hard decisions, lifelong consequences, and the unbreakable bonds that humans share.

    I felt like this book had a lot of melodrama; many scenes don't feel authentic. I can see Bennett working behind the scenes, which doesn't give me much confidence as a reader. However, when she gets it right—wow, she hits the bullseye. There were a few passages I made note of because of how expertly Bennett was able to articulate a feeling, a thought, a passing moment between two characters. For that and the fact that this is her debut novel, I am impressed.

    And the function of The Mothers in the story as a sort of omnipotent narrator was interesting. I hadn't read much like it before, though it sort of drew on the Greek chorus idea. I liked it, but it might have been a tad overdone.

    Nevertheless, a beautifully written story (though a slightly forgettable plot) with glimmering moments that show promise for Bennett's future. I will definitely read whatever she writes next.

  • Diane S ☔
    Dec 18, 2016

    The entwined lives of three teens in an African American community in Southern, California. Nadia, whose mother recently committed suicide and Aubrey, whose mother has chosen her boyfriend over her, and Luke, the pastor's son. Personal demons, young love, and growing up to find you still long for that which you left behind. A decision impossible to take back but that will fill Nadia with regret.. the Upper Room chapel and the Mothers, those older church ladies, who seem to see and know everythin

    The entwined lives of three teens in an African American community in Southern, California. Nadia, whose mother recently committed suicide and Aubrey, whose mother has chosen her boyfriend over her, and Luke, the pastor's son. Personal demons, young love, and growing up to find you still long for that which you left behind. A decision impossible to take back but that will fill Nadia with regret.. the Upper Room chapel and the Mothers, those older church ladies, who seem to see and know everything. Gossip and opinions, they and Nadia are our narrators.

    I belong to a subscription service called Quarterly and every three months an author curates the box. Brit Bennett was the curator for this box and she included personal notes on stickies, placed in various places in the book. Greatly added to my reading experience as she explains where she got some of her ideas, some of her thoughts when writing. She based our narrators, the mothers, on the most judgmental, people she knew. If you read the book you will see what a great job she did.

    I was thoroughly drawn into this story, it felt so identifiable, so realistic and so true. The mistakes we make when we are young are sometimes hard to forget, fill us with regret, a longing to go back and change things. Of course we can't, we must learn to move forward, as do the three young people in this novel. Quite a touching and memorable first novel.

  • Roxane
    Jun 26, 2016

    The Mothers is an outstanding, engaging debut novel. The story follows two teenagers, Nadia and Luke, who fall in love as teenagers and how they come together and fall apart over the years. This is also a novel about a community and a church community and a friendship between Nadia and her best friend Aubrey, and the sorrows of motherless girls. I loved the voice and the storytelling and how Bennett is able to hold the story she wants to tell together over the course of a decade. The one part of

    The Mothers is an outstanding, engaging debut novel. The story follows two teenagers, Nadia and Luke, who fall in love as teenagers and how they come together and fall apart over the years. This is also a novel about a community and a church community and a friendship between Nadia and her best friend Aubrey, and the sorrows of motherless girls. I loved the voice and the storytelling and how Bennett is able to hold the story she wants to tell together over the course of a decade. The one part of the novel that didn't work for me was the collective voice, used throughout the novel, to represent "the mothers" of the Upper Room church community. I could see what the writer was going for but the conceit felt really forced most of the time, like it was a meta narrative being forced onto a story that could stand all on its own. This is going to be one of the best books published this year and is one you're going to want to read. Out in October.

  • Book Riot Community
    Jun 28, 2016

    I resisted this book for a while because of its title: I’m not a mother, likely never will be, and I’m not a massive fan of fictional motherhood. But I went to hear Brit Bennett read and speak at Politics and Prose, my local bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. And it turns out that, while motherhood is definitely a theme, the mothers in question are the church mothers — the older ladies who watch the unfolding drama between the Pastor’s son and his girlfriend and comment on it with a wonderfu

    I resisted this book for a while because of its title: I’m not a mother, likely never will be, and I’m not a massive fan of fictional motherhood. But I went to hear Brit Bennett read and speak at Politics and Prose, my local bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. And it turns out that, while motherhood is definitely a theme, the mothers in question are the church mothers — the older ladies who watch the unfolding drama between the Pastor’s son and his girlfriend and comment on it with a wonderfully executed voice that really drew me in. This novel dealt with the topic of abortion with nuance and empathy, which is both interesting and important. It was wonderful, too, to read about a very recognisable church community in literary fiction — especially where the members of that community are portrayed as complex and three dimensional, neither angels nor demons but, quite simply, human. Though she’s still depressingly young, Brit Bennett worked on his novel for many years, and it’s definitely paid off. This is my favourite book not just of the month but also of the year.

    — Claire Handscombe

    from The Best Books We Read In December 2016:

    ____________________

    I’m so obsessed with this book and so glad I read it and didn’t let it fall back on my TBR. It was quick and satisfying read, and it’s written very elegantly. Though it tackles topics that could easily be handled preachily, they never come off that way. It never feels as if judgment is being passed on anyone, which is very important to me in narratives about abortion and religion. The characters are simply living and we’re just matching them do it.

    –Chelsea Hensley

    from The Best Books We Read In October 2016:

    ____________________

    This book is something special: sage and sad and spectacular. Focused on a church that acts as both center and centrifuge for a black Southern California community, The Mothers follows a trio of young people as they make decisions about their future and live in the aftermath of those choices. The structure and plotting are genius, letting you dive deep into a particular character at some points and slide between them, in fragments and fractures, at others. The book is narrated by the church mothers, elderly women who see all (and have seen it all, as their periodic reports from their century of black womanhood make clear), a conceit that works so well it hurts. When I wrote a recent post on books about finding your place in the world, I hadn’t read The Mothers. If I had, it would have featured grandly among those other fantastic titles. This is a book about how the choices you make, and those made for you, shape the lovely, hopeful tragedy of your life. *

    — Derek Attig

    from The Best Books We Read In May 2016:

  • Elyse
    Oct 18, 2016

    I can see why this novel is getting 'buzz'.

    "All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unriped secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season. But we didn't. We shared this secret, a secret that began the spring Nadia Turner got knocked up by the pastor's son and went to the abortion clinic downtown to take care of it".

    "She was seventeen then." She lived with

    I can see why this novel is getting 'buzz'.

    "All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unriped secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season. But we didn't. We shared this secret, a secret that began the spring Nadia Turner got knocked up by the pastor's son and went to the abortion clinic downtown to take care of it".

    "She was seventeen then." She lived with her father, a Marine, and without her mother, who had killed herself six months earlier". Since then, the girl had earned a reputation--she was young and scared and trying to hide her scared in her prettiness".

    Nadia is a bright African American - an excellent student...heading off to Northwestern University ---far away from Oceanside, California-- Southern Calif.

    At the beginning of the novel-Nadia is holding in her sadness about her mother's death ....which leads to her involvement with Luke. When he pays for her abortion but then doesn't show up at the clinic to drive her home - as planned - on the day of the procedure....

    I imagined the the sadness, pain, ( physical and emotional), and shame, she must have been feeling. And so alone in the world.

    After High School Nadia becomes friends with Aubrey Evans. The story follows Nadia, Aubrey, Luke -- each connected and each dealing with universal themes: pain, loss, shame, hopes, love, and dreams.

    The Church ladies - older mothers - give a narrative voice in certain chapters --giving their perspective during their prayer group about the younger generation.

    This novel is an interesting look into the modern African American community....in Southern California- off to College in Michigan -- back to Los Angeles to care for Nadia's sick father.

    Church community - education values - friendship - changes in styles of mothering, 'women's self discovery of self - and searching for understanding of one's mother.

    There are many types of mothers in this novel as their are women.

    "Anyone knows a church is only as good as it's women, and when we all passed on to glory, who would hold up this church? Serve on the auxiliaries board? Organize the

    Women of Worth conferences? Hand out food baskets during Christmas? We look to the future and saw long banquet tables growing dusty in the basement, the women's

    Bible studies emptied, assuming these girls didn't turn the meeting room into a disco hall".

    Congrats to Britt Bennett on her debut novel. Thanks for expanding my admiration

    of modern Black women in America.

  • Jill
    Oct 31, 2016

    It’s never easy for me to be the lone dissenting voice in a chorus of much more respected reviewers who have lauded The Mothers as one of the finest books of 2016. Yet for me, this debut novel is a classic example of “the emperor has no clothes.”

    The book focuses on three teens: Nadia, whose mother killed herself for unknown reasons, her boyfriend Luke, and her best friend Aubrey who is pious and estranged from her own mother. The title of the book is very apt, because this book deals with all k

    It’s never easy for me to be the lone dissenting voice in a chorus of much more respected reviewers who have lauded The Mothers as one of the finest books of 2016. Yet for me, this debut novel is a classic example of “the emperor has no clothes.”

    The book focuses on three teens: Nadia, whose mother killed herself for unknown reasons, her boyfriend Luke, and her best friend Aubrey who is pious and estranged from her own mother. The title of the book is very apt, because this book deals with all kinds of mothers: mothers who left, mothers who were left, wannabe mothers, and a Greek chorus of older church-going mothers who judgmentally comment on the goings-on in the community.

    The Greek chorus, using the third person “we”, has been used successfully by Jeffrey Eugenides in Virgin Suicides and in Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, among others. When used effectively – as it is here – it’s a powerful tool. And there’s no doubt that Brit Bennett can tell a good story.

    The premise of that story is found in a blurb on her book jacket –“must we always live in servitude to the decisions of our youngest selves, and to the communities that have parented us.” To buy into that premise, as presented by Ms. Bennett, we must believe this: that an abortion, at age 17, is so extraordinarily emotionally traumatic that it overshadows future accomplishments and relationships and causes someone to act compulsively enough to betray a sister-of-the-heart and one’s own deeply-held values.

    One example: here's Nadia, ruminating obsessively about the fetus she aborted. "Baby, no longer a baby, now a toddler, reaching and grabbing. Pulling at her earrings until she unhooks his chubby fingers. Baby hungry always for her face. Baby growing into a child, learning words, rhyming -at words from a car seat on the way to school..." And here's Luke, speaking to Nadia: "Dave (his counselor) says he's in heaven right now. And your mom's holding him."

    I didn’t buy it (for the record, my own beliefs are both pro-life and pro-choice, which are not separate). On a gut level, I did not understand Nadia’s inability to let go of Luke, despite his abominable behavior following her abortion and the many circumstances that intervened. I did not believe in Luke’s transformation and his eventual connection to Aubrey. I do not believe that we are hostage to our pasts.

    I have struggled with this question: did my own biases color my reading of The Mothers? It’s a fair question, but I think not. If the novel were stronger, it might have taken me out of my own belief system and put me right into the head of the main characters. (One example of this happening was Salvage the Bones. That book has, at its core, pit-bull fighting, which I thoroughly despise. Yet the writing was so strong that I could understand the characters' motivations, something I never thought I would ever be able to do).

    So here’s what the crux of it is for me: I did not believe the characters were quite nuanced enough nor did I buy into their motivations. I also thought that some of the plot twists were very predictable (hmmm...two best friends and a boy. Wonder if there will be a triangle relationship?) Again, I am an outlier in my reactions to The Mothers and I don’t for a minute think that my own reading experience is or should be the definitive one. 2.50 stars.

  • Julie
    Dec 29, 2016

    The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a 2016 Riverhead publication.

    This is another one of those ‘buzz’ books I wouldn’t ordinarily read, but my curiosity got the better of me, so I checked it out of the library, just to see for myself why the book garnered such high praise.

    The ‘Mothers’ are the women of Upper Room Chapel who basically gossip about the members of the church and keep track of the families who attend.

    They narrate the story of Nadia, Luke, and Audrey, three young black people living in

    The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a 2016 Riverhead publication.

    This is another one of those ‘buzz’ books I wouldn’t ordinarily read, but my curiosity got the better of me, so I checked it out of the library, just to see for myself why the book garnered such high praise.

    The ‘Mothers’ are the women of Upper Room Chapel who basically gossip about the members of the church and keep track of the families who attend.

    They narrate the story of Nadia, Luke, and Audrey, three young black people living in Southern California. Their lives interconnect during pivotal points in their young lives, forging strong emotional bonds, in the process, but the decisions made in their youth, the secrets they keep, will haunt them all through their adult lives.

    The story is very emotional, the characters filled with a deep longing, regret, and desire. The reader is like a spectator as the characters live through life’s ups and downs, make life altering choices, experience love, friendship, betrayal, and cope with the consequences. Life is not a fairy tale and this story demonstrates how, despite our best efforts, life throws us curve balls that upend all our good intentions, sending us off in directions we never envisioned.

    This is not a resolvable, wrapped up in a nice neat little bow, happily ever after type novel. It's a sad story, but one that describes life and the repercussions of our decisions. The writing is sharp, but, deep character analysis is minimal. I felt like, instead of reading, I was watching all this on television or something, or like I was on the outside looking in. The inner thoughts of the characters are not prevalent, which is something I wished for.

    Still, I do appreciate that this is a debut novel, and the author certainly has some writing chops. I think if the characters had been fleshed out a bit more, and if the ending hadn’t been quite so abrupt, I would have enjoyed the book a little more. But, I do see why the story, with its contemporary setting, its boldness, the contrasts of religion with difficult topics, like abortion, resonates with readers.

    Overall, this is an impressive debut, and I am glad I gave the book a try. Brit Bennett is definitely an author to keep an eye on.

    3.5 stars

  • karen
    Jan 17, 2017

    i saw a comment the other day on a friend's review that was both amusing and galling:

    so before i get to the review part, let me just say that - yes, i did get this book for free, but that didn't predispose me to like the product (as i shudder at the word "product" being used to describe a book). yes, i am beyond grateful that i was given the opportunity to read

    i saw a comment the other day on a friend's review that was both amusing and galling:

    so before i get to the review part, let me just say that - yes, i did get this book for free, but that didn't predispose me to like the product (as i shudder at the word "product" being used to describe a book). yes, i am beyond grateful that i was given the opportunity to read this, since i'd

    had it on my to-read shelf, but it's been out for months - i could also have been given "the item" for free by my local library. or, since it is a hardcover, i could have borrowed it for free from work. i get free books all the time - as gifts, as review copies from authors or publishers or on the free shelves at work, as people move out of my building and leave 'em on the radiator in the foyer, and although i am always grateful for freebies, i don't love them all or feel guilted into gratitude-uprating. and i don't think many other people do, either. most true book-folk bleed integrity, and it's pretty clear when a reviewer is genuinely enthusiastic about a book.

    however, although i don't uprate-for-freebies, i do have a blanket tendency towards uprating because my pesky readers' advisory training has broadened my critical assessment faculties from "is this a good book to me?" to "can i identify the target audience for this book?" so a lot of books that are three-and-a-half stars for ME are shunted into four-star land because i know the book has an audience, even if it's not my particular favorite. and that's what reviews are for. my star ratings are slippery, inconsistent things, but the review space is where i can go into greater detail about what worked, what didn't, and who this book is "for." i don't get paid for my opinions or my reviews (but if someone wants to give me a job, i'm all ears!); i write them in order to help myself solidify my reaction, to have a record of my reading experience, to understand the book's appeal for others, and if my review either makes someone want to read the book or lets them know that it is not a book they would enjoy, that's all extra gravy.

    all of that to say that i loved this book.

    objectively, it's a really well-written debut novel. subjectively, it's got many plot points to which i could relate, not the least of which was, like nadia, growing up in a gossipy church-town and losing my mother to suicide at seventeen. so, yeah - there was a particular resonance for me that would have occurred even if i had shelled out the 26 bucks.

    i can't think of anything i

    like about it.

    - the writing is confident and assured without being showy; without that self-conscious impulse first-timers often have to be impressive and "literary." there were so many perfect lines, observations, quiet truisms - i'd planned to use many pull-quotes, but it soon became impossible to even choose among them. but here, i will give you ONE:

    - all of the characters are nuanced; mostly sympathetic, but capable of doing really selfishly shitty things the way we all are, so they come across as humans instead of plot-vehicles.

    - the ending showed remarkable restraint and maturity for a debut; there's no tidy authorial bow wrapping everything just so.

    - it's funny and smart and thoughtful and honest and sad and just … smooth. she's an excellent storyteller, and it never feels overwritten or message-laden. although it's about death and abortion and crushed dreams and betrayal and abuse and all the different ways a person can be lonely or unmoored, it's not at all bleak, which is an accomplishment unto itself.

    so yeah, i got a book for free. and i loved it. because it's a damn easy book to love.

    *********************************************

    here's something awesome - i'd been seeing these book-box subscriptions around the interwebz, where you pay to get surprise boxes of books and other treats mailed to you a couple of times a year, and i thought - 'when i start making money and my cat is cured of expensive cancers, this is how i will spend my riches.'

    and then - LO - i was offered a free sample box from quarterly:

    and it is so freaking awesome!

    even maggie wants to check it out:

    it has books and a mug and some tea and a sticker! the "main" book is bristling with post-it notes annotated by the author:

    where you will learn fun facts about the book:

    i am super-thrilled because i wanted to read this one really badly, and i am also looking forward to reading the two titles brit bennett selected to be friends with her book, although me and sula have some bad blood between us, because of the time a copy tried to kill me. more on that later.

    this was indeed

    and maggie's glad i took everything out of the box so she could have a new bed, even though this one is a pretty tight squeeze:

    still reading and loving this one, but i wanted to drop my GRATITUDE! you people with money should get yourself a subscription. i love this idea so much!

  • Will Byrnes
    Feb 09, 2017

    It does not matter where you are planted. How can you grow straight and strong if some of your deepest roots have been ripped out? If the cords that nurture are cut before completing their mission?

    is a story of absence, a tale based on what is not there, and secrets about what is. Nadia Turner is a pretty seventeen-year-old, living in Oceanside, California with her father. For reasons that are never made entirely clear, her mother killed herself. Dad turned inward and to their church for solace or distraction. Nadia sought comfort elsewhere, with Luke Shepherd, the pastor’s handsome son, which led to her becoming pregnant.

    - from her site

    Oceanside has a small town feel, made even more so by the Greek chorus narrators, the elder mothers of Upper Room, the church that Nadia and her father attend. Most chapters begin with “the mothers” offering observations based on their long experience. The book opens with one of the best of these:

    The mothers feel somewhat spectral, but some of them get involved in very material ways throughout the story.

    Bennett’s book was conceived from some of her adolescent concerns:

    The core plot structure is a romantic triangle. Nadia is smitten with Luke, although he shows himself to be something less than a beacon of light. She becomes close friends with another young woman who is also working at the church. Aubrey is the darling of the pastor’s wife, a devoted Christian who wears a chastity ring. She has had a rough go of it, though, living with an older half-sister, as the latest in her mother’s seemingly endless string of loser boyfriends has made life at home intolerable. As college-bound Nadia moves on and up, Aubrey and Luke become involved. But there is still a spark between Nadia and Luke, and things get complicated.

    abound. Why did Elise Turner kill herself? Nadia’s abortion is known to a few, but is kept hidden from most, for diverse reasons. Affairs must, by their nature, take place out of sight. Aubrey keeps some pretty serious secrets of her own. Sometimes, when secrets are revealed, the results are extreme.

    is profound. When Nadia’s mother killed herself she took a huge piece of her daughter with her. Coping with that deep loss is core to Nadia’s personality and struggles. Compounding the loss of her mother, Nadia’s father retreats into himself, becoming the most minimal sort of father. Aubrey also suffers from the loss of

    mother. Although she is alive, Mom remains an absentee part of her life. Both Nadia and Luke contend with feelings about the abortion over the years, wondering what their lives might have become if they had raised a baby. While much of the what-iffing centers on the abortion, other people’s forked roads are considered as well. What if they had done this instead of that? Made that choice instead of the one they made. What might their lives look like? What might Nadia’s life have looked like if her mother had lived? What might her mother’s life had been if she had chosen to live it?

    clearly figures large here, both in a positive and a negative way. This is communicated through the church, where people can be wonderfully supportive, but also spiteful and malicious. The mothers of the title refers not just to the church elders, but to Nadia and later Aubrey, and to their mothers as well. And Luke’s mother (a mama grizzly if there ever was one) too, for that matter.

    The book had a multi-year gestation.

    There is a richness of language to this book that is surprising given the tender age of the author. Yet, there is such an ear for sound and rhythm, the cadence of language, and the beauty. Many times I imagined the dialogue being spoken on a stage, and wondered if parts were born there. Bennett has a story-teller’s ability to pull readers in, as if by a campfire on a warm evening. “Gather round, come on now, in closer. That’s right. Settle. Everyone comfy? Ok? I’ve got a story here I think you’ll want to hear.” And then she begins, “We didn’t believe when we first heard, because you know how church folk can gossip…” All eyes fix on her, and thought of all else floats up into the night, competing for air space with fireflies, mosquitoes, and wafting smoke from the blaze. Bennett’s voice swaddles us in the sound of story, in her portraits of people, and we fly with her through her realm. It is a journey worth making.

    Published - October 11, 2016

    Review posted - February 17, 2017

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    ,

    ,

    and

    pages

    I came by this book in an unusual way. I was contacted by Quarterly re their Literary Box. Each quarter they feature a new author, who curates the box contents. This would be a primary book, annotated by the author/curator. There were about (I say “about” because I have a tendency to lose things, so the number may be a touch higher) eighteen 3”x3” post-it notes in the book intended to appear to be in the author’s hand, offering bits of background on diverse elements of the novel. I was reminded of pop-up videos. This was wonderful. I wish all books had such additions. The author selects two other books to be included in the box and there is a bit of non-book extra as well. In this case a mug and some tea. Despite it being February when this review was posted, this box was sent to subscribers for October 2016. I received mine in mid-January 2017. Overall, the wonderfulness of the primary book aside, I thought this was a delightful package. If you want to check out their past literary boxes, adult and YA, or other stuff, you might try

    . And no, no one asked me to make nice. Not being a presidential counselor, I can do this.

    Interviews

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    - 9/21/16 – Vogue – by Megan O’Grady

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    - 4/14/16 – Jezebel – by Jia Tolentino

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