Jesse and Ramon are a loving couple, but after years spent unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, they turn to adoption, relieved to think that once they navigate the bureaucratic path to parent-hood they will have a happy ending. But nothing has prepared them for the labyrinthine process—for the many training sessions and approvals; for the constant advice from friends, strangers, and “experts”; for the birthmothers who contact them but don’t ultimately choose them; or even, most shockingly, for the women who call claiming they’ve chosen Jesse and Ramon but who turn out never to have been pregnant in the first place.
Jennifer Gilmore’s eloquence about the human heart—its frailties and complexities—and her razor-sharp observations about race, class, culture, and changing family dynamics are spectacularly combined in this powerful novel. Suffused with passion and fury, The Mothers is a taut, gripping, and satisfying book that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.
Reading Group Guide
Jennifer Gilmore’s The Mothers introduces us to Jesse and Ramon, a loving couple who, after trying to get pregnant for years, have decided to pursue open adoption. The myriad pitfalls and hoops to jump through surrounding the process confound the couple as they try to follow all the rules set forth by adoption agencies, while also hoping to attract a birthmother to choose them. Through heartache and challenges, The Mothers follows Jesse and Ramon for over a year as they do all they can to bring a child into their lives.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss “The Mothers” we meet in the novel and Jesse’s relationships with each of them.
2. Jesse and Ramon find themselves discussing race and drug and alcohol use as they make their way through the adoption process. Talk about the pom-pom exercise they did in Raleigh.
3. Talk about Jesse a see more