"Bittersweet, sexy, morally fraught." - The New York Times Book Review " Luminous... engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss. " -People, Pick of the Week "Fantastic... Read more...
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"Bittersweet, sexy, morally fraught." -The New York Times Book Review "Luminous... engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss." -People, Pick of the Week "Fantastic... a book that feels alive on the page." -The Washington Post 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 a secret. "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 unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season." It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance--and the subsequent cover-up--will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt. In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a "what if" can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.
Book clubs: Deathbed revelations
A finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, Michael Chabon’s Moonglow is another fascinating blend of fact and fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. This masterfully constructed novel takes the form of a memoir narrated by a writer named Mike, who is in many ways similar to Chabon himself. Filled with the stories Mike’s grandfather shared with him before he passed away, the book offers a remarkable portrait of 1950s America. Mike’s grandfather, an engineer who served in World War II, has many adventures as an enlisted man. After the war, he loses his job, and his volatile temper lands him in prison. Mike’s grandmother, a sensitive woman scarred by the Holocaust, suffers bouts of depression and winds up in an institution. The novel draws upon both of their pasts, and the result is an expansive yet intimate chronicle of a bygone era. Based on actual conversations the author had with his dying grandfather, Chabon’s compassionate exploration of his family’s history is a must-read for fans of literary fiction.
SINS OF THE PAST
Madeleine Thien’s skillfully constructed novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing follows a damaged family in the years after Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China. A math instructor living in Vancouver, Marie is trying to find answers about her father, Kai, a talented pianist who committed suicide. During the 1960s, a time of political unrest in China, Kai trained at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music with Sparrow, a gifted composer, and Zhuli, a young violinist. Sparrow is the father of Marie’s old friend, Ai-Ming, who is also trying to untangle her family’s history. Marie gradually teases out the threads of the past through notebooks her father left behind. Across the years, the lives of the three musicians have repercussions for both women. The narrative moves back and forth in time with wonderful fluidity as Thien explores the complexities of family and the far-reaching effects of history. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this provocative novel is a great fit for reading groups.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Brit Bennett’s acclaimed debut novel, The Mothers, takes place in an African-American enclave in California. Nadia Turner, a headstrong teen, is approaching the end of high school while coping with her mother’s suicide. She finds romance with 21-year-old Luke Sheppard, a once promising athlete who now works at a diner. When Nadia gets pregnant, she does her best to conceal her condition. Not even Aubrey, her closest friend, knows the truth about her pregnancy. Nadia succeeds in keeping her secret, and as she says goodbye to her teenage years, she finds that her choices regarding Luke and the baby have lingering consequences. Writing with luminous clarity, Bennett spins a poignant story of young people in search of themselves. An exciting introduction to an important new novelist, this is a timely book that will resonate with readers of all ages.