'The Mothers' explores the politics of morality
There is seemingly no grey area for black girls — they're either "good" or "bad," "fast" or "chaste," "respectable" or "trifling." In contemporary black America, the important task of ranking, filing and maintaining this social hierarchy is often left to the matriarchs — the tribunal of church mothers who have lived long enough to cross the moral threshold that deifies opinions and elevates judgments to discernment. By these standards, the mothers of the Upper Room church have full moral license to judge. The hints of good in a bad girl are easily dismissed as a chance fluke, and the bad in a good girl, eagerly overlooked and explained away. The reputations of both preassigned without permission and caste by a community insistent on self-marginalization
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Bennett's masterful first novel takes the reader on a multidimensional exploration of the things we desire and the things we settle for, what cements loyalties and what justifies betrayal.