The Mothers By Brit Bennett

“Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip.”

The Mothers

The Mothers punches you in the heart. A novel telling the story of American’s black youth, which is a fresh and much-needed perspective in today’s literary world. Based in Oceanside, San Diego, The Mothers tells a story of Nadia Turner, a girl coping with her mother’s suicide and her strained relationship with her father (especially after his wife’s death). Beyond her grief, Nadia is effortlessly smart, beautiful, and about to head off to Michigan to start her college career. Before she goes she begins a relationship with the pastor’s son, Luke Sheppard. Luke is a former football star with a promising future until he was seriously injured, now he waits tables and floats through life considering how things would have been if the accident never happened. Luke and Nadia’s relationship becomes complex and the truth becomes murky, especially for Nadia, who hides her feelings and truths from everyone she loves and cares for. In reality, Nadia is searching for her mother, especially in the last place she was seen before her suicide, Upper Room, their local church, the place her father spends the majority of his time and energy, and the place Luke grew up to seemingly hate.

The Mothers follows Nadia, Luke, and best friend Aubrey from teen into adulthood, shifting between their perspectives. This novel is interesting in that way because it would seem that the whole of the story is told in the third person, but we are introduced into The Mothers, who seem to be telling the story of their youth in comparison to Nadia and Luke’s youth. I liked the switching of perspectives, it added a depth to the story and brought meaning as to why the events that unfold are important to acknowledge and understand.

I really enjoyed the overall complexity and tone of this novel. I felt that I connected deeply to the story line as someone who lost my mother at a young and trying age. The importance of a mother figure, as well as motherhood, is heavily emphasized through Nadia and Aubrey’s growing pains. Each girl is motherless, both strong, but still yearning and searching for their mother’s approval, advice, and love. And the question remains making your way through this story, would our choices be different if we had our mothers there to help guide us? Or, are our choices even our own when a parent chooses to walk out on a child, as both Nadia and Aubrey’s mothers chose?

Aside from motherhood and frankly, relationships, choice is the underpinning of this novel. And this concept really opened my eyes to my own choices, failures, and successes, which is something I love in a book. Beyond Nadia and Aubrey’s choices or possibly lack thereof, how are their choices influenced by being black women? Or is their path of expectations set in stone?

Honestly, this was such a beautifully devastating and important read. I would recommend The Mothers to everyone and anyone looking to reevaluate life, friendships, love, and choice, but also, I would recommend this book as a painful look into being a black woman and the expectations and stereotypes pinned to you from birth.

Overall, I gave this book a 4/5 stars!

-Stephanie, Teen LTA

The Teen Book Club is Back!

THE TEEN BOOK CLUB flyer

After a small hiatus the Teen Book Club is back, and a little bit different! Starting in March we will meet from 5:30-6:30 (right after Homework Help) on the first Tuesday of every month. The Book Club will meet in the Teen Area, with snacks, to discuss our current reads, favorite books of 2018, and to discuss our Book Club pick.

The Book Club is open to all teens (13-18 years old) with varying reading interests. We will try and dive into a wide variety of genres so as to include everyone’s reading taste. The meetings will be dedicated to discussing themes, characters, why or why not you did or did not like the book, etc. But this is also a space to discuss all sorts of books, as well as topics presented in our favorite and least favorite books.

On March 5th, 2019 we will be discussing On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, the New York Times Best Selling author of The Hate U Give.

81j2zZ36XZL

On the Come Up synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

I can’t wait to see you there!
Stephanie, Teen LTA

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

“When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”

49546107_417528638985605_3545009086265011807_n                   Photo Credit: @stephaniebookish

I would like to preface this review by telling you I had been in a reading slump for the last three months, if not a bit longer. I basically tried to black it out of my mind. Suffice it to say, the moment I picked up The Gilded Wolves I was wholly immersed and happily so.

The Gilded Wolves is a multi-perspective book, following four different characters, set in 1889 Paris, France. It is delicious and dark and chock-full of historical and political intrigue. Though, I will admit the beginning of the book is complex and at times convoluted (meaning I found myself rereading passages in order to fully understand the magic system) I don’t feel it is completely off-putting or pulls you out of the story if anything it made the book richer.

In my opinion, I felt the best thing Chokshi did with this book is made subtle, but important commentary on Imperialism, racism/bigotry, and assimilation. Each of the four characters we follow throughout the story are all dealing with deeply rooted ideas about themselves and the world around them based on the color of their skin or the beliefs they hold. And honestly, this made them so much more real and relatable to me than most books I have read in the YA and Fantasy world. Plus, the banter between this unlikely group of friends is hilarious. I think you could find a piece of yourself in one, if not multiple characters.

Overall, I gave The Gilded Wolves a 4.5/5 and I highly recommend it for those who loved the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo, or readers who enjoy magic systems with a dab of historical fiction.

–Stephanie, Teen LTA