Mothers Vol. 1

Fiction - Urban
499 Pages
Reviewed on 04/17/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

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.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

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.

Alma Boucher

Mothers by Ben Burgess Jr. is about Juanita, who is struggling after the recent death of her husband, Maurice Wilson. Drug dealers had a shootout in front of the grocery store, and a stray bullet killed Maurice. Jalen is angry at Juanita for asking his father to go to the grocery store and blames her for his death. Two years after Maurice's death, Jerami is diagnosed with cancer. Juanita takes care of Jerami during his chemotherapy sessions and often works overtime. Juanita does not spend as much time as she had with Jalen and cannot afford to buy him the things he wants. Jalen feels neglected and walks around the streets with his friend. Drastic, a local drug dealer, approaches the two friends to deliver packages for him.

Mothers by Ben Burgess Jr. is excellently written. It is complex and exciting as the mother struggles to make ends meet and wants to keep her eldest from the dangers lurking on the streets. I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I cried with Juanita when she was sad, laughed at her and Tracy’s conversations, and was angry at Jalen for not appreciating what his mother was doing. The characters are skilfully crafted and authentic. My favorites were Juanita and Tracy. They supported and uplifted each other during their struggles. I empathized with their circumstances and was impressed with how they handled it. This story is exceptional and exceeded all my expectations. It has a fitting ending after all the drama that unfolds.

Rabia Tanveer

Mothers Vol. 1 by Ben Burgess Jr. is the story of a mother struggling to provide a stable home for her boys. “Take care of your mom for me” were Maurice Wilson’s last words as he went out to get pasta from the store. With him gone, Juanita became the sole breadwinner of the family. Losing her husband and their stability was a blow Juanita wasn’t expecting. Suddenly, she had to take care of their house and children and bring in enough money to put food on the table. Things weren’t going well, especially with her youngest (Jerami) battling cancer and her oldest son (Jalen) falling in with the wrong crowd. Juanita was in over her head and overwhelmed with the direction her life took. Would she be able to keep her family intact or would she lose it all?

Mothers Vol. 1 is an emotional story of a woman’s struggle to find her footing as her world tumbled down around her. Juanita was a hero and a fighter. She lost a wonderful husband and a life filled with love and comfort. Her biggest hurdle was not about making money (although that was a battle in itself), it was about keeping her family intact. Jalen going astray was killing her, especially because she knew he was feeling neglected. Ben Burgess Jr. provided a realistic look at how Black families survive and try to make sense of their lives after a tragedy. The year 1995 wasn’t a good one for the Black community, and the author reflected on that time perfectly. From the outset, I was invested in the Wilson family and wanted to hug Juanita. This novel is a moving tale of a mother’s quest to give her children a good and stable life, and I felt her struggles. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Edith Wairimu

The powerful Queensbridge-based urban novel Mothers Vol. 1 by Ben Burgess Jr. is a story of a family ravaged by tragedy and a mother’s determination to fight for her children. On his way to the grocery store, Juanita’s husband is killed in a shootout. Overnight, she becomes a single parent, caring for two sons alone. Two years later, when she finally settles on a routine for her young family, her world is turned upside down again when her youngest son, Jerami, is diagnosed with cancer. Between trying to keep her corporate job in a hostile law firm and caring for Jerami, she is left with little time for her oldest son, Jalen, whose life is taking a dangerous path as he becomes more familiar with street life.

Burgess crafts a moving story that will resonate with many young people facing circumstances similar to Jalen’s. They will also glean essential life lessons from Jalen and his friends’ lives and be inspired by his journey. All the main characters are fleshed out and compelling. I loved that it explores sisterhood as a theme through Juanita’s life. The friendships feel authentic, and the friends' conversations are realistic and captivating. Its depiction of life on the streets of Queensbridge is also striking. Finally, it tackles other crucial and relevant themes, including interpersonal and institutional racism in the corporate world, poverty, gang life and its ultimate consequences, and the impact of death and health crises on a family. Mothers Vol. 1 by Ben Burgess Jr. is a timely and absorbing read with essential lessons for young and adult readers. You will love its brilliantly developed main characters and their impactful stories.