Cover Image: The Mother's Promise

The Mother's Promise

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

Received a ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At the beginning of the book Alice learns that she has Cancer. Instead of worrying about herself, she worries about her 15 year old daughter, Zoe. Alice and Zoe are a team. Zoe has never met her father and only has her Mother, Alice as support. Zoe also suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks. Due to Zoe's anxiety, Alice has built her life around Zoe. They depend on each other and now that Alice is facing a major illness, she fears for her daughter and her future.

Alice soon has to rely on the kindness of strangers. She has a brother Paul but he is an alcoholic. He would like to help, and does as much as he can but it is obvious, he should not be the one taking care of a 15 year old girl if something should happen to Alice. So Alice leans on her kind oncology nurse, Kate who is dealing with personal issues of her own and her social worker, Sonja who also is dealing with serious issues in her own life. As Alice seeks treatment, her daughter is plagued with Anxiety and school issues.

This book is made up of up chapters dealing with each characters life. It is a glimpse into the lives of all of the women who must come together to help out Alice and her daughter Zoe but it is also about the women, their stories, their hardships and their relationships with others.

This book deals with a lot of issues: Cancer, Social Anxiety Disorder, domestic violence, infertility, getting help, learning to let others in, depending on others, and rape to name a few. What works is how real the situations in this book felt. Zoe pulled at my heart strings the most. The Author approached her Social Anxiety in a very realistic way - describing her symptoms and inner struggles. As a painfully shy teenager who had anxiety issues, I could really relate to this character. I liked how she faced her fears and opened up to Harry and Kate.

There is a twist in this book which I did not see coming but upon thinking about it, I was like "of course" and "yes, that makes sense". There is some predictability her but that does not take away from this book. One thing I would have liked to have seen in this book is an epilogue.
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I am a fan of Ally Hepworth so I was delighted to read this book.  I found all the topics so interesting...kinda sad but such a good story.  I especially loved the high school girl and her boyfriend.  A great read!
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Tearjerker alert! Or maybe I should not have finished reading this after watching This Is Us last night.

It has always been just Alice Stanhope and her teenage daughter Zoe. Zoe’s father has never been in the picture, for reasons you find out as you read along. Zoe has an anxiety disorder that makes her really very shy. She doesn’t really talk to too many people. She wants to be unseen. When Alice is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, their world changes completely. Alice is hospitalized for surgery and her social worker Sonja feels that Zoe should not be alone. She is sent to foster care which is unacceptable to Alice. Her nurse Kate offers her home to Zoe and a new friendship is formed. But Kate and Sonja have their own lives and their own secrets, much like who Zoe’s father is. Kate wants to have a child so badly with her husband. He has two children from a previous marriage but she wants her own child. After a few miscarriages, he wants to stop but Kate is determined to have her own family too. Sonja’s husband is controlling and abusive but she feels she will lose him if she speaks up. She feels undeserving of someone like him. These four women’s lives will intertwine and change all of them.

Yes. I admit it. I was crying towards the end of this book. But it wasn’t just all sad even though it is a sad story. There was a lot of humor thrown throughout. I liked each character so very much. I would have to say the best part was watching Zoe blossom, as much as she could anyway. I just felt good at the end and in this crazy world, I think we need more of that. I have really enjoyed both books that I have read by Sally Hepworth and will look forward to any and all that she writes.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Sally Hepworth's books make you feel all the feelings you have in your aresenal.  Such a heart wrenching story of family, pain, and how we get through the most difficult of times!
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Having read THE THINGS THAT WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth, I was anxious to get my hands on another of her books.  THE MOTHER'S PROMISE did not disappoint.

Alice Stanhope, a single mom, is dying of ovarian cancer, her teenage daughter Zoe has a debilitating case of social anxiety. Alice is faced with the task of knowing she has to find a guardian to care for Zoe, an emotional task as Alice has no family (except for an alcoholic brother) and no close friends.  Alice and Zoe have been each other's support system but now they both need more.

As Alice's illness progresses so do the people in their life willing to help, though the story is sad, it is also uplifting.

Sally Hepworth writes in a way that you care about her characters and what happens to them.
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A Mother's Promise is one of the most difficult, yet well written books, I have read in years. Hepworth has a great talent and accurately captures the essence of a mother / daughter relationship with finesse and compassion. The main character, Alice, is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has to figure out a way to take care of herself an her 15 year old daughter who suffers from severe social anxiety. Unfortunately, there is virtually no extended family support, so we are introduced to Alice's primary nurse Kate and a social worker, Sonja, who is also assigned to the case. Though the story centers on Alice's condition, each person has her own story to tell, and we are fortunate to be introduced to each one's tale.

As a mom to a teenage daughter, I found it hard to read, because the topic is so difficult to process. Alice's diagnosis is every mother's fear and I did not want to consider the 'what if' that resonates throughout the book. However, I am so glad I persevered, because it is such a solid piece of fiction. The ending provides resolution and at the same time, keeps the door open for the next stage in the character's lives. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds real life books compelling. The story has a few predicable elements, but there are also plenty of unexpected moments, both positive and negative, like real life. I have already told friends about it and will continue to read Hepworth's novels, as they make me think and help me slow down and appreciate the people I love the most.
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The mothers promise is a deeply moving book. What mother has never considered what would happen to her children if anything happened her? To consider these things when you are part of a large extended family is one thing but to be on your own is entirely different. Alice has been raising her daughter Zoe singlehanded for 15 years. When she becomes sick she realises she has no 
one to turn to. Zoe suffers from a social anxiety problem which makes living without her mum extremely difficult when she has to be hospitalised. Kate a nurse and Sonia a social worker, help Alice and Zoe survive the battles of cancer treatment and Zoe's anxiety. 
This novel pulls you into the lives of the four woman involved and reaffirms the enduring love a mother has for her children. 
Get the tissues out for this book and enjoy!!
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This is a fascinating story about the bond between a mother, who is gravely ill, and daughter, with such social anxiety that it embarrasses her.  However, though the story was interesting, this book just did not grab me.  I read it slowly, as I felt it moved slowly. In defense, however, I think the basic story line had to move slowly because of its nature and how these sorts of things/events happen.  

Alice is dying and, true to form, thinks only of how her daughter will cope with her loss, because of her own social anxiety problems.  Then, there are the nurse and social worker involved in Alice’s care and her family’s well-being. Kate, Alice’s nurse, is a big help, but Kate also is working through her own problems with infertility. Finally, there is the social worker, Sonja, who is living with her own marital problems and changes.  Together, these women forge a bond, while coping with the dreaded diagnosis that Alice has received.  This is a book about learning to live with whatever comes your way, setting up support systems, however and wherever they appear.  It is about learning to live, love and help others.  Nevertheless, having said all that, I still was not as caught up in this book as others.  The subject was a difficult one to read through, which may have been my problem. No one likes cancer or enjoys reading about someone who has it—especially someone in Alice’s family questions/problems.  Still, the author did a very good job with this situation. The characters are well done and true to life. I think anyone who enjoys a good, sensitive book will enjoy this one. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
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You will need lots of tissues ready when you read this book! A single Mom who is raising her teenage daughter with no support system is dying of ovarian cancer and must make some difficult decisions. This book deals with many issues, including rape, spousal abuse and anxiety disorder. The author does an excellent job writing about these issues along with great storytelling. This story is heartbreaking and will stay with you long after you finish the book. This is the first book I have read from Sally Hepworth but I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from this author. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel.
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I started Sally Hepworth's THE MOTHER'S PROMISE with high expectations since online reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Often a text like this, with a teenaged main character, leads to engagement and even subsequent analysis and critique in Junior Theme by our students. And I did very much like Alice, a single Mom, and her daughter Zoe who must deal with debilitating social anxiety.  Sadly, Alice learns that she has stage three ovarian cancer and their life changes. 

At this point, I have to step out of the review and encourage readers to turn to the stunningly beautiful essay in the New York Times this past week by a real life writer diagnosed with ovarian cancer:  "You May Want to Marry My Husband." Its most memorable line?  "No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar."

In THE MOTHER'S PROMISE other characters (nurse Kate, social worker Sonja) appear and begin to provide a much needed support network. Yet, these women were struggling in their personal relationships and this is where the book with its emphasis on marital conflict and potential spousal abuse became less appealing. It felt strange that the men were portrayed so negatively – as if they had no empathy or concerns beyond their own needs. Maybe that is the kind of partner that these caregivers attract (or are attracted to)?  I know nurses and social workers and I truly appreciated the effort to paint them as real people with their own lives and issues beyond the hospital, but that took away from Alice's and Zoe's life and death struggles.

Perhaps Hepworth's writing (the four characters share narration) would work for adult book groups where participants would have more life experience and be interested in discussing motherhood and a mother's love? "Readers should get ready for a good, ugly cry," said Booklist where THE MOTHER'S PROMISE received a starred review.
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Before you start this, make sure you have a box of tissues. You'll need them!

This is such a powerful and emotional story. As a parent, the idea that there would be no one to care for my child if something happened to me is horrifying. Reading the story made me feel so grateful for my family and friends.

I was impressed at how anxiety was portrayed in the story. It wasn't downplayed, or made bigger than necessary, but had a real impact on the characters and their actions. It felt quite authentic and understandable, which makes this a great story to help showcase what anxiety is, and how it can affect some people.

Overall, I loved this book. It was powerful and emotional and very well written. I was transported to the lives of the characters, and I felt like I needed to grieve after the book was done.
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I was given this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Oh my what a beautiful book. Sally Hepworth knows how to draw you in and wrap you in feelings.  Read it!
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This is one of those beautiful, heartfelt novels that make you feel something as well as explore various situations that can make you think about life in a new way. In this novel, there are several things happening – a single mother facing a horrible health prognosis, a teenager facing crippling anxiety, a nurse struggling with infertility and a social worker facing her own demons. As these four come together in this novel, they are all changed by each other and their experiences. It’s ultimately a story about community, finding your way, and how connection can change your life in a myriad of ways. The physical and emotional health issues were handled quite well – particularly the social anxiety piece which I think came alive in this novel. The way all of the pieces and parts of the story came together was well done. It isn’t a complex novel in terms of story composition but the overall story was heartfelt and impactful. I think there were moments that came together almost too effortlessly when I’d expect a bit more difficulty but I was able to overlook that since I enjoyed the overall story so much. If you’re looking for something that will touch you, something with heart, then this is the novel for you! It is probably something that would be classified as women’s fiction so if that’s a genre that you typically like, please give it a try! I thought it was very sweet and quite a good read!
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This book will absolutely tear you apart emotionally. Alice fiercely protects her daughter, Zoe, who suffers from severe social anxiety. When Alice is diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, the two are forced to leave their insular world and take radical steps out of their comfort zones, finding support from a nurse, a social worker and a high-school boy, all of whom face their own secret challenges. Bring tissues, but don't skip it.
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As a young mother, one of my greatest fears was something happening—an illness, or an accident—that would take me from my children, leaving them to grow up without me. The thought alone was enough to leave me in tears, but I had the comfort of knowing if such a terrible thing were to happen, my ‘babies’ would be loved and well cared for by their dad and a large, extended family. Even if something happened to me, I knew my boys would be fine. But what would a mother do if she had no one?

That is the question haunting Alice when she is diagnosed with cancer. Who will care for her daughter? Zoe’s father isn’t involved in their lives, and the only family Alice has left is an alcoholic brother who isn’t fit to raise a child.When social worker Sonja insists Zoe be put in foster care during Alice’s hospital stay, she is frantic with worry and turns to her nurse for help. Kate agrees to take Zoe in for a few days, despite a rocky marriage and a recent heartache of her own. Zoe has severe social anxiety, but finds herself slowly opening up to Kate and wanting to spend time with her as she comes to terms with the impending loss of her mother. Sonja and Kate are Alice’s biggest allies. Working together, they prepare Zoe for a future without Alice, and find their own lives changed for the better, as well.

Zoe’s struggle with social anxiety hit close to home for me. Hepworth captured the irrationality of anxiety perfectly, without making Zoe seem pathetic. The struggle she has in doing the simplest of things, the way her fears hold her back, and the sheer terror of stepping outside her comfort zone are all true to life without being over the top. I enjoyed all the main characters, but I was particularly invested in Zoe. Watching her come out of her shell and mature in ways she once thought impossible was a particular bright spot in this beautifully written story.

The Mother’s Promise tugs at your heartstrings from start to finish, and it’s a book I definitely recommend. Just remember to have a box of tissues handy… you’ll need them.
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This was an enjoyable read. Nothing too deep, but kept your interest and kept moving.
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A beautiful, heartbreaking story about love and loss, mothers and daughters, and finding new hope. A must read!
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I went into this book knowing I would love it as I have read Sally Hepworth's work before.  I knew the writing would capture me.  And it did.  I also knew I would find at least one character to love, and I found instead that I loved all of them except one.  

If you are reading this, you already know what the book is about.  I  initially felt that I would relate best to Zoe's Mom, but I just fell for Zoe completely.  I have a soft spot for teenagers because I still remember what that was like and I imagine it to be so much more difficult in today's society.  Zoe is so much a strong person who does not see herself that way at all.  I love the best friend she makes, I love how other adults relate to her, and I cried for her.  I cried for her mother.  I cried for her mother's nurse.  Oh, I think we are starting to think it's a sad book.  I cry when I'm happy also, for the record.  It is a happy/sad/feeling/emotional book, and so worth every smile and every tear.  

It is a must-read.  If you are human, you will enjoy it.
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Alice Stanhope had managed her life quite well; her initial effort at caring for senior citizens had grown into a prosperous business, her daughter Zoe was 15, and though it had always been just the two of them, she did her best to ignore it. A little surgery, a spot of chemo, and everything will be back to normal, she believed, and so she didn’t even tell Zoe what the surgery was for. Soon enough, the situation grew more serious, and Zoe learned the truth.

Kate was warm and comforting, mothering those patients who seemed to be without any support from family or friends. When Alice’s case was assigned to her, she felt badly for Alice and Zoe, having only each other, and stepped in to offer support to both, though she was recovering emotionally from a miscarriage and from her husband’s insistence that they not try again.

Sonja had pulled herself out of a rough neighborhood, and was still amazed at the charm and wittiness her psychologist husband showed to her and to their friends. George was nearing retirement, he said, and had decided to volunteer some time working with troubled high school students. Everyone thought he was just wonderful for offering his help, and Sonja agreed – until their friends had left, the house was quiet, and George’s desire for rough sex left bruises on both her body and her soul.

It was clear that Alice put everything she had, and then some, into being Zoe’s mom. She advocated for her at school, she did her best to make Zoe comfortable in different situations, and was always there to offer a fuzzy blanket and a hug. Alice’s cancer is the thing that brings them together, but as the story continues, there are other, underlying connections that are surprising. The support these women have for each other is great, and even though there is no hint of a miracle cure, the story is complete.
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