11 Jan / The Mothers by Brit Bennet [in Library Journal]
The collective elder mothers of Upper Room Chapel open with a Greek chorus-esque recitation about happenings affecting their congregation. At the center of the chatter is Nadia, 17, who had “earned a wild reputation” since her mother committed suicide six months earlier; the Upper Room elders know that Nadia is pregnant by the pastor’s son Luke.
Desperate to be somewhere else, Nadia chooses the promises of a prestigious college-degreed future, has an abortion, and leaves. The repercussions will continue for years. Relationships crumble, reignite, repair, and disappear among family, friends, and lovers, but the inescapable reach of the mothers – even the missing and lost mothers – looms.
Debut novelist Brit Bennett finds an ideal accomplice in narrator Adenrele Ojo, who moves effortlessly among decades, voicing teenagers and elderly women with ease. Ojo soothes with a deep richness, until she sharply demands attention with the slightest adjustment in pitch and tone.
Verdict: A resonating performance that will enhance any literary fiction collection; especially recommended for fans of Yaa Gyasi, Heidi Durrow, and Tayari Jones.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult