I approached this book believing that it’d be vignettes of different mothers and their daily lives. However, it is so much more than that. The Mothers here are a group of church women who congregate outside of regular sermon hours to pray, chat, and mostly gossip about everyone in their small town in San Diego. They’re the narrators of the story, but this story isn’t really theirs to tell.
Trigger warning: This book has themes around suicide, grief, abortion, and infidelity.
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)
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.
Rating: 4/5 mothers
This book was quite a short read! Coming in under 300 pages, you’ll be able to read this over a weekend. The story is eloquent and I feel like a lot of it is wrapped in metaphor.
I was a little bit confused in the beginning of the story because it starts off in the first person POV and then switches to the third. Later I realized that the book is being told in the perspective of the mothers who pray in Upper Room, a church they all attend.
The book is obviously about mothers, but it’s also about the maternal instinct in us all. Regardless of your gender and how you identify as such, we all carry around the caretaker in us. That need to cover someone in a blanket when they’re sleeping on the couch. That want to make snacks for friends who are coming over for game night. The desire to make someone else happy instead of yourself.
If you’re not a mother, then you might be a child. Many of the characters throughout the novel took turns being the one who needed the mother. It’s funny that they all needed mothers yet they were met with their real mothers, all of their current options are not that great.
Except for Nadia. Nadia isn’t a mother, but she doesn’t regard herself as the child. She was going to be a mother, but then decided to get an abortion. Every time Nadia is faced with a situation where she needed to be a mother or carry that maternal instinct, I think she failed to keep herself and her needs out of the picture. It’s not for a lack of trying, but some people are more innate to the instinct. It also explains how she ended up in the end. In some situations, you just need to be your own mother.