Plot/Idea: Telling the stories of several young boys—and the mothers who care for them—trying to survive the against the odds of their home and community, Mothers, Vol. 1 attempts to coalesce the tale of a neighborhood into one novel. This ambition sets it apart; however, in this first installment, many narrative threads are tied up too hastily.
Prose: Burgess Jr.’s narration flowed smoothly between dialogue and exposition but frequently leans toward explanation of emotion and motive rather than its inclusion in any dialogue or action. Narration does, though, shift dynamically to match the narrator of each chapter, assuming simpler structures for younger characters and more complex, emotional tones for adults.
Originality: While some portrayals come across as archetypal, Mothers Vol. offers a uniquely in-depth take on several boys’ lives in the streets of New York City.
Character/Execution: Characters throughout the novel are easy to become invested in and to truly root for. However, it is difficult to fully appreciate the characters for more than their abilities to triumph through struggle and oppression due to the lack of secondary characteristics present.
Date Submitted: July 03, 2023
In Mothers Vol. 1, Ben Burgess Jr. masterfully weaves a poignant, multi-layered urban narrative that delves deep into the heart-wrenching struggles of a single mother, Juanita, raising two boys in a crime-infested neighborhood. Tragedy strikes when Juanita’s son is diagnosed with cancer just two years after the devastating loss of her spouse to a stray bullet. As she grapples with financial woes and the constant worry about her older son’s brushes with the law, Juanita’s job as a senior executive assistant and administrative manager at the prestigious New York law firm, Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln, hangs in the balance.
Enthralling and thought-provoking, Mothers Vol. 1 captivates readers with its intricate plot twists, memorable characters, and a potent exploration of the challenges faced by resilient, independent single mothers in today’s world. The workplace antagonist who schemes to oust Juanita in favor of his illicit lover adds a layer of tension and frustration to the story.
Though the novel features some violent episodes and explicit intimate scenes, making it most suitable for mature readers, its emotional core shines through. The narrative switches between the perspectives of Juanita and her son, offering a comprehensive view of their internal struggles. While Jalen spirals into a life of crime, resentful of his mother’s perceived inadequacies, Juanita strives to provide for her children and maintain a semblance of normalcy amidst chaos. The engaging storyline is further enriched by powerful lessons on empathy, bridging racial divides, and embracing tolerance.
This compelling novel is sure to resonate with fans of urban literature and stories that celebrate the fortitude of single mothers. Upon turning the final page, readers will not only gain a newfound admiration for the heroic efforts of single mothers but also develop a deeper understanding of the hardships faced by children raised in crime-ridden communities. Mothers Vol. 1 is an unputdownable, eye-opening literary gem that leaves a lasting impression.
Mothers Vol. 1 by Ben Burgess Jr. is an urban fiction novel. In 1995, Maurice Wilson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A simple trip to the grocery store saw him caught up in a 'hood shooting, killed by a stray bullet. His wife and kids are left to fend for themselves, but when Juanita’s youngest is diagnosed with cancer, her life spirals out of control, and she sinks into debt to pay for his treatment. Her oldest boy turns to the streets, feeling abandoned by his mother, where he meets Drastic, the local drug dealer. Can Juanita pull him back from the edge, or will the streets claim him? Will Juanita ever get out of debt, and will her youngest survive the treatments? What lengths will a mother go to in order to save her children?
Mothers Vol. 1 is a hard-hitting, fascinating story of survival and bravery. It’s a story of how one woman fights to save herself and does whatever is necessary to save her kids. It’s not a book for the young nor the faint-hearted, given the language and violence portrayed in it, but it is true to life, and we all know real life isn’t a bed of roses. The characters are realistic, well-developed and likable, and you can’t help but feel for them. We all know life can be tough, but it’s tougher for some people than others, and this book, although fiction, gives a solid insight into how some people struggle with all life throws at them, especially when they don’t have the advantages others have. But it’s also a story of true grit and determination, a lesson for us to learn. l am looking forward to reading more from Ben Burgess Jr.
Mothers Vol. 1 is a work of fiction that covers interpersonal drama, and urban as well as sociocultural issues. It was penned by Ben Burgess Jr. as the emotive and detailed prequel to the novel Defining Moments: Black and White. It is best suited to mature readers owing to scenes of violence, sexual situations, drug use, and explicit language used throughout. The novel follows Juanita, a single mother desperately trying to care for and provide for her children after her husband is killed by a stray bullet. When one child develops cancer, and the other is led astray on the streets, Juanita struggles to hold it all together and keep her family safe from yet more tragedy.
Ben Burgess Jr. has developed a poignant and brilliantly written sociological drama that works on many different levels to satisfy its readers. In terms of its storyline as an urban family drama, there are plenty of emotive twists and shocking turns to keep you invested in Juanita and the family’s struggles as the plot rolls forward. Beyond this, the level of emotional and psychological development in the family and their immediate social circles is fascinating. The author is dedicated to expressing the plight that our current capitalist and discriminatory society puts many families into through no fault of their own. The work certainly left me with a lot more thoughts and questions about real people just like Juanita. Mothers Vol. 1 is a highly recommended read for all realistic drama fans out there.
A novel that will tear at the heart Mothers Vol. 1 is the powerful prologue to the award-winning novel, Defining Moments: Black and White. A novel about a mother’s courage and resilience as she struggles to raise her two boys after their father’s untimely death.
His narrative is verbally smart, and the various contrivances and tangles of his plot are cleverly played out. Provoking reflection on the dichotomy between societal expectations and the race-defined self.
Burgess Jr. Isn’t the first author to tackle the subject, and he won’t be the last, but far too many reads in the Black & African American Urban Fiction genre fail to go beyond transgressive violent romps. This is something Burgess Jr. nimbly avoids, and in doing so, he gives readers so much more than a narrative that plays like a laundry list of difficulties faced specifically by the urban black community.
There is an overt message in Mothers Vol. 1, but it isn’t preachy, and it’s something that’s often hard to pull off and Burgess Jr. achieves it by making us empathize with the hopelessness his key characters face and encouraging us to ask, along with them, how long can this go on.
This is conveyed through the narrative perspectives of Juanita and her oldest son Jalen. They are both flawlessly crafted characters, and it’s through them that we are challenged to think beyond cause-and-effect, stereotypes, and expectations without allowing his main characters to tangle up his plot.
Both Juanita and Jalen feel trapped and are despairing of a way out, and Burgess Jr. moves their story forward with an abundance of energy and superb dialogue whilst exploring what education means on differing levels in a faltering urban structure. From the classroom to the office to what kids on the corner are learning about drugs and easy money. It’s bold and sweeping, and in the burgeoning friendship between Jalen and Akeem, we get an intimate perspective that’s easy to access and decipher.
With wonderful plot elements and superb characters, Mothers Vol 1 is a novel you will not only enjoy immensely but want to talk about! It is an unreservedly recommended 5-star read.