chergui's child book coverReviewed by Neriza Alba

Olivia is a mother now. This news was revealed to her when her aunt passed away, leaving her a substantial amount of money and a letter. The letter required her to use the money to find her daughter, who unbeknownst to her, survived almost six years ago when she gave birth in Tangiers.

That’s how Chergui’s Child started, quickly letting the readers know what was in store for them. What I was not expecting is how the rest of Olivia’s life – her on-off relationship, her parents and her job – were impacted by this development. Olivia pretty much embarked on a new life, lived in a new country and took care of other people’s children to follow the trail of the last person who had her daughter.

It is not a unique plot, in fact, it is a bit of a soap-opera story line. However, Jane Riddell has managed to include characters that are realistic, and not just Olivia, the protagonist. There is such a mix of players that the reader cannot help but identify with at least one of them. The topical dialog give the story a pragmatic tone–far from the soap-opera cliché.

The use of various locations was equally effective. Troubled and restless in London, at peace in Gibraltar, in turmoil in Tangiers and determined and purposeful in France. Each one is an extension of Olivia’s feelings and seems to reflect Olivia’s state of mind, as she wanders through each place.

What I particularly like is the way the author used different tones. The flashbacks were told in the third person while the present time is told in the first person. This change gives me the impression that Olivia is already detached with what has happened in her past. She just sees herself as another participant with equal culpability, instead of the one who was at fault.

Olivia’s search for her child is a heart-warming journey and one that every reader would not regret taking with her.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Neriza Alba works a regular 9-to-5 job in Stockholm where she resides with her husband. In addition to reading, she enjoys travelling and curling up with a glass of good wine.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Jane Riddell. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.