The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope

Publication date 15/10/2021

‘Beverley watches Riley spoon cereal into his mouth …’

Beverley is a single mother who is deeply protective of her eight-year-old son Riley. Her boyfriend Ethan is very fond of Riley as well, but when he asks Beverley to marry him, she ends the relationship. As much as she loves Ethan, Beverley has secrets she cannot share with him.

But life for Beverley and Riley becomes complicated when a series of expensive anonymous gifts start turning up for Riley. Beverley has told Riley that his father is dead, but he wonders if he is sending the gifts. Beverley assumes that Ethan is responsible for the gifts but her attempts to contact him are unsuccessful.

We (the readers) know that someone is watching Riley and Beverley, but we don’t initially know who.

Then, late one afternoon while Beverley is preparing Riley’s favourite spaghetti dinner, she looks out the window. She cannot see Riley: he has disappeared from the yard. Where could he be? A check with his friends and around the neighbourhood reveals nothing. Beveley calls the police.

‘What kind of mother loses her child?’

The story unfolds through the eyes of Beverley and Riley’s abductor. There are a couple of twists as we learn the truth about Riley’s parentage and the background of both Beverley and the abductor.

While the story held my attention from beginning to end, aspects of the abductor’s story left me uncomfortable. Perhaps that was Ms Trope’s objective: to remind us that parenting is complex and not all parents are good at it.

‘I thought I had a plan, but all I had was an idea and a wish. That’s not the same as a plan, not at all.’

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith