A librarian takes time out from work and fetches his illiterate, Moroccan-born mother from the seniors` home where she lives. He locks her up in the derelict house where he spent his childhood in order, finally, to teach her to read and write in Hebrew after all these years in Israel. The week is also supposed to give the son some time to think-he is going through a sexual identity crisis and feels an outsider to society.
However, things do not work out as planned, because the old woman surprises her son with the tale of a young girl who was abandoned by her mother, shunted between relatives in Morocco and Algeria, and deprived of an education. The mother`s dramatic tale-her own, in fact-is told in broken but vibrant language, and the narrator is slowly captivated by the stubborn girl who managed to create a sense of self against all odds.
This is an ambitious and moving novel on the conflict between an immigrant mother, widowed young, and her educated son. In the end, the mother`s story wins. She is revealed as a gifted storyteller and a strong, wise woman. The conflicted son, who sought to educate his dying mother, gets a chance to grow closer to her and learns a lesson that he will never forget.
Berdugo`s voice comes across loud and clear. A wonderful book.
The mother`s story has an Arabian Nights quality to it - utterly fascinating.
A powerful drama. The mother`s inarticulate style has extraordinary linguistic sensuality… Against the backdrop of the Jewish community`s life in Morocco, Berdugo tells a shrewd Dickensian story about orphanhood, wandering and loneliness.
A fascinating novel... Opens a door into a magical world.
Partial English translation available (for publishers only)