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Marginalia: Brit Bennett

Emma Trim

We’ve all heard the warning, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We should probably add “don’t judge a book by it’s title” to the list of literary pitfalls to avoid. That’s especially the case with it comes to Brit Bennett’s The Mothers.

Who are “the mothers” of the title? Well… it’s complicated.

At it’s core, The Mothers is about a love-triangle. Six months after losing her mother to suicide, 17-year-old Nadia Turner becomes involved with her preacher’s son, Luke Sheppard. The resulting pregnancy is aborted, and immediately after, Nadia is hired at her church to assist Mrs. Sheppard. At the church, Nadia becomes friends with another girl her age, Aubrey Evans, who has also been abandoned by her mother… not through suicide, but by turning a blind eye on abuse. After the summer ends, Nadia, no longer pregnant, moves on with her life by moving away to attend college and only returns home to attend Aubrey’s wedding… to Luke Sheppard.

So are these “the mothers” from the title? I recently asked author Brit Bennett that question and more. And here’s our conversation:

And if you listened to the commentary on-air, this is what you heard:

Marginalia, the commentary | Brit Bennett


The Mothers was published by Riverhead Books.

Thanks for joining us for Marginalia. Discover new episodes at kmuw.org or through iTunes. Marginalia was produced at KMUW - Wichita.

Editor: LuAnne Stephens
Engineer: Jon Cyphers
Producer: Beth Golay

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.