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They the Mothers

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

From Issue 38 of Bellevue Literary Review, Kathi Hansen’s “We the Mothers” (honorable mention in the 2020 BLR Prize) imagines the mothers of boys who have been accused of sexual assault. They meet together in book-club-like fashion, able to speak freely with one another when no one else understands.

Hansen writes of them in a collective. They speak of their sons as one being as they look back to their childhoods, their teenage years, and the ways their boys were raised in their homes. Only when one woman begins to question her son’s innocence does the story diverge, separating her from the rest of the group, finally naming her apart from the others. I found this to be a cool, well done device for this piece, and a unique point of view to have on these now familiar stories.

Despite focusing on this side of the story, Hansen does a good job of avoiding too much sentimentality. The mothers tell their collective story without demanding understanding or sympathy from the reader. After all, as they point out, only those in their group can truly understand.

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