I don’t know if it’s fair for me to write a review of The Mothers by Brit Bennett. When I started the book, my dog was either lying next to me on the grass when I read outside; or at my feet when I read inside. When I finished it, she was gone. I still read the book, but my brain was only making a glancing connection with the material.

But here’s what I can say:

The Mothers is about Nadia [corrected thanks to a reader], a 17 year old whose mother just died by suicide. The Mothers of the title are olden women who are members of a Black church, and they act as an omnipotent Greek chorus narrating the novel. Her father is the guy with a truck who helps everyone out. From the jump, we know that Aubrey had an abortion, and that news of it eventually gets out.

When and how is part of the plot, so I won’t spoil it here. I’ve seen other contemporary writers try to use a Greek chorus before, and Bennett is the best one to do it yet.

However, the last third of the story unraveled, with the primary players making decisions that didn’t match who they became in the first two thirds. But again: I finished the book after my dog died, and my criticism of it might have more to do with that than the ending.

Bennett also wrote The Vanishing Half, which I read last year and liked better. Still, I was able to pick up The Mothers again and keep reading, even in short bits at a time. Even if I questioned some decisions Bennett made, the fact that I kept going is a testament to her work.

Oh and if you think this is an over jubilant nail polish color for someone whose dog just died: my mom, who I stayed with after Annie died, picked out the color. She did that on purpose.

Nail polish: Marie by Zoya.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Marcy on September 23, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    I am reading The Mothers now, about 1/4 way through, love it so far. I was blown away by The Vanishing Half, also by Bennett. What an amazing talent for such a young author. Similar to Zadie Smith when she wrote White Teeth, and to Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). I wish I was a wise (at 68) as these 20 somethings! Anyway, if you don’t mind a correction to your synopsis, the main character (whose mother committed suicide and who had an abortion) is Nadia, and Aubrey is her friend.

    • Jen Miller Jen Miller on September 24, 2023 at 8:46 am

      Fixed, thanks!

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