Book of the Week, fiction, literary fiction, reading challenges

Book of the Week: The Mothers

Tricky choice for BotW this week, but I eventually plumped for Britt Bennett’s The Mothers because it was a bit out of my normal reading comfort zone, but wore it very lightly and made me think. 

In aftermath of her mother’s death and in the twilight of her time at high school, Nadia Turner gets involved with the minister’s son. Luke is a couple of years older than she is, but is still adrift after the injury that ended his football career and cost him his college scholarship. It’s nothing serious, just a bit of fun, until Nadia gets pregnant. And what comes next changes the course of both their lives and sends ripples out through their church community that will last for years to come. 

Firstly, I loved the setting of this book. Bennett really brings to life her fictional contemporary black church community in Southern California. Part of the story is told by the elder women in the church as a kind of Greek chorus. It adds an extra perspective in between flipping between the stories of those mostly closely involved. 

It’s also full of interesting characters, even if you don’t always like them that much. Luke and Nadia and her best friend Audrey make a fascinating triangle, who have different views on life and experience the fallout in different ways. 

Now, I can’t say too much more about this or I’ll give too much away, but reading through the reviews of this on goodreads, there are some very definite opinions about the author’s stance with regard to Nadia’s decision. As far as I was concerned, I thought it was handled in a very balanced, matter of fact way and in the main the fall out was portrayed as more down to the cover up and the other issues going on rather than because of the actual decision. Is that cryptic enough?!  Anyway, nearly a week later I’m still thinking about the characters, which has to be a good thing.

This is Bennett’s first novel and was nominated for a whole bunch of prizes, which really didn’t surprise me because it’s clever, well-written and very readable.  This is also a book that fills a couple of this year’s #ReadHarder categories: Debut Novel, book where all the POV characters are people of colour and for me, book set more than 5,000 miles away. 

The hardback is out now, the paperback is coming in October. When that arrives, I think you should be able to find it in most bookshops, but possibly not in the supermarket. As always, if you can’t make it to a bookshop you could order it from a Big Green Bookshop or pick it up on Kindle or Kobo. 

Happy reading. 

reading challenges

#ReadHarder Challenge 2017

This year is the third year that Book Riot is running their #ReadHarder challenge aiming to get people to widen their reading horizons.  I first found out about it late in 2015, thought it was a great idea but didn’t have time to get anywhere near getting it done, so had a look at the list at the start of 2016,  read through the categories and went off about my business.  Halfway through the year I remembered about it again because of mentions on the Get Booked Podcast (they did an episode of recommendations for some of the tougher categories) printed a copy off and noted down what I’d done, congratulated myself on being more than halfway done and then promptly forgot about it until 12 days before the end of the year.

At which point I discovered that unless I stretched the boundaries of the criteria I was missing a few categories and it was going to be a mad scramble to finish it off.  And of course life got in the way again, and I didn’t finish.  I ended up missing four categories out of the 24 categories, but a couple of the others are a bit of a stretch/slightly tenuous.

My #ReadHarder 2016 list
I know I’ve read a book allowed to The Nieces, I just can’t remember the title…

So I’m going to make a big effort in 2017 and try and do it this time.  It’s a really clever way of making you think about what you’re reading and expanding your reading boundaries – which is something we all should try and do.  I may average 5 books a week – but if I’m not careful they end up being two romances, two cozy crime books and some historical fiction.  And I want to make sure I’m doing more than that and this is a handy, easy way of doing this.

You can read BookRiot’s article about the challenge here and if you want to join in they also have a handy editable pdf that you can download and use.  I’ll keep you posted on how I’m getting on – for a start I’m going to add a line to the monthly stats about how many of the categories I’ve ticked off until it’s done and hope that the accountability will force me to remember and do it properly this time!

Fingers crossed…