The Mothers

A Novel

The Mothers

Poignant, raw, and insightful, Jennifer Gilmore’s third novel is an unforgettable story of love, family, and motherhood. With a “voice [that is] at turns wise and barbed with sharp humor” (Vanity Fair), Gilmore lays bare the story of one couple’s ardent desire for a child and their emotional journey through adoption.

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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451697889 | 
  • April 2013
List Price $13.99 (price may vary by retailer)

Reading Group Guide

A Scribner Reading Group Guide The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore This reading group guide for The Mothers includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jennifer Gilmore. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


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

More Books from this Author

Something Red
Golden Country

About the Author

Jennifer Gilmore
Photograph by Pedro Barbeito

Jennifer Gilmore

Jennifer Gilmore is the author Golden Country, a 2006 New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Jewish Book Award, and Something Red, a New York Times Notable Book of 2010. Her work has appeared in Allure, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, and The Washington Post. She lives in Brooklyn.