The Mothers


Brit Bennett

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Nadia Turner

When The Mothers begins, Nadia is a seventeen-year-old black girl whose mother, Elise Turner, has just committed suicide. As such, Nadia finds herself motherless in her last year of high school. Although she’s a… read analysis of Nadia Turner

The Mothers

A group of elderly women who attend Upper Room, the church that Nadia and her father attend in Oceanside, California. Deeply religious and moralistic, the Mothers practice “intercessory prayer,” which means that they pray on… read analysis of The Mothers

Luke Sheppard

The pastor’s son. Luke starts dating Nadia after flirting with her at Fat Charlie’s, but he urges her to keep their relationship a secret because he’s twenty-one, and she’s only seventeen. Luke has already… read analysis of Luke Sheppard

Aubrey Evans

A pious young woman who appears at Upper Room one Sunday and walks up to the altar with teary eyes to be saved. Nobody knows Aubrey’s background, but the church community readily accepts her because… read analysis of Aubrey Evans

Robert Turner

A former Marine, the late Elise Turner’s husband, and Nadia’s father. After his wife’s suicide, Robert finds himself incapable of supporting his daughter emotionally. Instead of reaching out to her, he directs his… read analysis of Robert Turner
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Elise Turner

Nadia’s mother, and Robert Turner’s wife. By the beginning of The Mothers, Elise has already committed suicide. Nadia often thinks about her mother’s choice to take her own life, wondering what, exactly, led… read analysis of Elise Turner

The Pastor (John Sheppard)

Luke Sheppard’s father, Latrice Sheppard’s husband, and the pastor of Upper Room. Unsurprisingly, the pastor is a deeply religious man, though he doesn’t stop his wife from paying for Nadia’s abortion when… read analysis of The Pastor (John Sheppard)

The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard)

Luke Sheppard’s mother, and John Sheppard’s wife. Latrice Sheppard has different colored eyes (one brown and one blue), which Bennett claims enables Latrice to look at a woman and know whether or not… read analysis of The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard)

Russell Miller

A twenty-eight-year-old Marine whom Aubrey and Nadia meet on the beach several days before Aubrey and Luke’s wedding. Aubrey and Russell make a quick connection. At the end of the night, she tells him… read analysis of Russell Miller


The wife of one of Luke’s teammates on the Cobras football team, Jeremy Fincher. Luke grows close to Cherry while Nadia is at college in Michigan. He even starts making excuses to go… read analysis of Cherry

Monique (Mo)

Aubrey’s sister. Mo lives with Kasey, her girlfriend. When Nadia discovers this, she’s surprised, given that being gay in the Upper Room community is a “big deal.” Of course, Mo herself isn’t part… read analysis of Monique (Mo)

Mother Betty

The pastor’s secretary and one of the Mothers. Mother Betty overhears Robert Turner yelling at Mr. Sheppard for having paid for Nadia’s abortion. Shocked by this news, she tells the rest of… read analysis of Mother Betty


Aubrey’s mother’s boyfriend and Aubrey’s sexual abuser. When Aubrey is still living at home, Paul makes his way to her room on a nightly basis and rapes her. Despite the horror of her… read analysis of Paul

The Dreadlocked Nurse

The only black nurse at the abortion clinic Nadia visits. While leading Nadia into the sonogram office, the dreadlocked nurse criticizes her for not wearing comfortable clothes, and Nadia senses her implicit judgment and resentment… read analysis of The Dreadlocked Nurse

Cody Richardson

A man in his thirties who still hosts parties in his beach house that high school students attend. It is at one of these parties that Nadia finds Luke on the night of her abortion… read analysis of Cody Richardson

Aubrey’s Mother

A woman whose love life adversely affects her children, Mo and Aubrey. While Mo hates her mother, Aubrey wishes that her mother could still be in her life, although she knows this is impossible… read analysis of Aubrey’s Mother

Dr. Yavari

A fertility specialist Aubrey visits with Nadia. During this appointment, Dr. Yavari asks if Aubrey has ever had an abortion. Later, Nadia marvels at the fact that abortions “follow” people around for their whole… read analysis of Dr. Yavari
Minor Characters
Finch (Jeremy Fincher)
Cherry’s husband and one of Luke’s teammates on the Cobras. After Finch’s child sees Cherry kiss Luke’s leg, Finch and several other players find Luke at Fat Charlie’s and assault him, making sure to injure his leg so badly that he’ll never be able to play football again.
Mo’s girlfriend. Aubrey gets to know Kasey when she moves in with Mo, eventually coming to see her as a caretaker of sorts. Since Nadia spends so much time with Aubrey, she too grows close to Kasey and Mo, spending several nights a week at the girls’ house.
Luke’s friend. CJ used to play football with Luke in high school and also works with Luke at Fat Charlie’s. He is supportive of Nadia’s abortion, seeing it as a perfect way for Luke to dodge responsibility for getting her pregnant.
Nadia’s political activist boyfriend in Michigan.
Luke’s physical therapist in the rehab center.