Trying to get ahead of my local library book club by reading whatever I can get audio access to is the catalyst for why I picked up this book. Hadn’t heard of it, but reviews looked good, and I’m always excited to pick up something by a female author, and also support POC. I wish I had better news about my feelings on this book though. They are not positive. I will caveat first though and say that from my small sample size of folks I know, reviews are polarizing. People either love this book, or have the same experience as I do.
Nadia Turner is a bright young woman, on the cusp of high school graduation. She mourns the loss of her mother via suicide and flounders as she tries to find her way in the world. When a summer romance with the pastor’s son leads to an ill-timed pregnancy, she decides to end the pregnancy to continue on to college, and try to live the life her mother never had. At first, Bennett takes us on a journey where we see Nadia struggle, but start to flourish as she works toward coming of age. However, in the middle act, Bennett instead seems to turn this book into an abortion morality play. The portrayal of abortion clinics and crisis pregnancy centers is clumsy, and definitely provides a slanted view and honestly make me uncomfortable with its inaccuracies. In addition, it seems like Nadia is punished for her abortion and the book turns into a Lifetime movie of “this is all the bad stuff that can happen to those around you if you have an abortion.” Almost like a pamphlet they would hand you at a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, masquerading as a place for women to get help in time of crisis.
Also, Nadia’s best friend Aubrey, who had a downright awful mother struggles and flounders in her own life. Combined with Nadia’s tale, it almost seems like the thesis of this book is that women without mothers are doomed to half-lived lives, fraught with sadness. I’m not here for that.
There’s also a narrative thread of church mothers who periodically comment on the goings on over time, which is…fine I guess? It was neat, but just didn’t really go anywhere for me.
I’m interested to see what others think and I see the discussion getting interesting, so in that one respect I would call this a book club success.