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The Mother's Promise

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Alice just got some devastating news from her doctor.  She is worried about her daughter who has social anxiety disorder and panic attacks.  Alice's nurse has her own problems at home with multiple miscarriages and an unrelenting desire to have a baby.  The social worker with the hospital gets on Alice's last nerve, but she has her own secret problem.  This story is told from those 4 perspectives, which makes it even more captivating.  I loved this book.... I couldn't put it down.  This is definitely a must-read!
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I loved the first book I read by Sally Hepworth and this one did not disappoint at all! She has a beautiful writing style and the book was read very quickly. Her characters are realistic and believable and in particular this book was full of heartbreaking moments for me as both a mom and woman. I like the way she alternated perspectives in the story and how the choices she makes for her characters have a very specific meaning behind them. I think that Hepworth has great talent and I really look forward to reading more by her.
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Master storyteller, Sally Hepworth returns following The Things We Keep (2016) landing on my Top Books of 2016 and Secrets of Midwives (2015) all 5 stars, with an unforgettable story of courage, THE MOTHER'S PROMISE. 

Richly told. Memorable and poignant. An emotionally-charged portrayal of motherhood friendship, and love — in the midst of tragedy. Hepworth digs deeply into the ties of love, between both family and strangers. Mixed with humor, the author knows how to grab you by the heartstrings and never let's go. 

“With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood.” – Isadora Duncan

Set in Atherton, CA, a twenty-minute drive from Silicon Valley, Alice Stanhope is a giving and caring single mom. Barely forty. Her her job has been taking care of others. 

Alice has her own business, taking care of elders. She is not a nurse; however, she offers in-home help to the elderly. She keeps them company, cleans and runs errands. Her daughter Zoe is now fifteen. They are extremely close. The dad is not in the picture and we later learn the details. Let me say, the twist surprise at 90% was an added bonus surprise, a shocker. 

As the book opens, Alice receives some devastating news. She has ovarian cancer. She seemed to have a knack for attracting illnesses and ailments that required just enough investigation to be financially and emotionally draining. It was happening again. She exercises and eats well. How could she have cancer?

Both her parents have passed away. Her brother, Paul is an alcoholic. Her mother died of ovarian cancer. She has no one, except for Zoe. She has lived her life alone. Just mother and daughter. Zoe is not a normal teenager, so she has to protect her. She needs to keep the surgery, and cancer news to herself. Zoe cannot be a support person for her. Alice wasn’t going to need someone. Zoe was. 

How would she get to her appointments, chemo, the surgery? How can she die? What will happen to Zoe? She could not turn to her brother since he was drunk most of the time. She did not have a single person she felt she could nominate to walk beside her in what was going to be the hardest journey of her life. 

Now she has met her nurse, Kate. Kate knew there was one thing that a patient needed more than a doctor, more than a nurse, even more than medicine, and that was a mother. Someone had to fight for them. Kate had a mother only when she was a toddler, and she recalled her mom’s nurse. Now she had to be a mother to her patients. 

Kate in her mid-thirties, has her own issues. From one miscarriage after another. Her husband, David, and his two children her stepchildren—of his own (Jake and Scarlett). She longed for a baby. She fantasized about the day she would have a child of her own. She currently is pregnant again; however, will she be able to carry it to term? 

Zoe, age fifteen has the normal teenage issues; however, her situation is magnified. She has Social Anxiety Disorder. No one understands. Like being anchored to damp sand. Like waiting for the next wave. You want to turn and look, to see what’s coming, but you can’t move. You don’t know. You wait helplessly, envisioning the worst. She yearns to be invisible. Everyone thought she was weird. Every day is a struggle to deal with her anxiety. 

Currently, due to her circumstances, the hospital is bringing in a social worker, Sonja. Sonja is not the normal social worker. She gets Botox, she is married to a wealthy man. He is abusive. However, she stays with him. She should know better. After all, she works with women in this same situation. Happiness was something you shared, chatted about, asked after. "Suffering was something that you had to do behind closed doors, in silence, all alone."

How will Zoe survive without Alice? Alice is Zoe’s safe place. How will all these characters connect? What will they learn from one another? Will Alice’s past catch up with her during the worst possible time? 

An entertaining tale of parental love, motherhood, friendship, loss. Piercing and uplifting at the same time. Well-researched, suspenseful, thought-provoking and character-driven, this cast of resilient heroines will inspire readers and renew their faith in humanity. 

Even though I had to re-live some of the painful and loving times with my mom and her three- year battle with cancer (she passed away in Aug 2016), her bravery reminded me a lot of Alice. What great characters: Kate, Alice, Zoe and even Sonja. A beautifully written story –the unbreakable bonds, and characters which remain with you long after the book ends. A beautiful book for Mother’s Day and an ideal choice for books clubs and further discussions.

The author has a rare talent of taking wounded souls and pairing them with just the right person. Fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde, Diane Chamberlain, Lisa Genova and Jodi Picoult will find a lot to love here. 

Highly recommend the author and all her books. Loved the inspiration behind the book. Sally is "tops" when it comes to writing about Mothers. A rare gift. She has a special way of making you fall in love with her characters. 

I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Barrie Kreinik for an outstanding performance.

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Single mom Alice Stanhope is dying of ovarian cancer. She is raising teenage daughter, Zoe, a girl with a debilitating and chronic anxiety disorder. After Alice receives her grim medical diagnosis, she is forced to make plans for Zoe’s future without her. An emotional and difficult task as Alice never had a support system, no family other than an unreliable alcoholic brother. 

Enter the caregivers and school friends who become a godsend in Alice’s and Zoe’s lives as Alice grows more incapacitated.Kate in particular is a shining star, her interrelationships with Alice and Zoe combined with a challenging issue impacting her own life made for powerful dynamics. I would have to say my favorite character was Zoe though, her dedication to her dying mother, her growing independence, determination and courage.

There is some predictability here but it was never tedious. An interesting surprise that I didn’t see coming. Well done once again, Sally Hepworth, your latest novel was hard to put down! 
*will also be posting to Powells, Twitter
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Alice and Zoe, mother and daughter, are a tight knit unit of 2 - they have never needed anyone else.  Zoe suffers badly with social anxiety, and although she has one friend at school, whenever anything happens she runs for her mother.

Life like this is fine until the unthinkable happens, Alice is diagnosed with an incurable illness - who will look after Zoe when she is gone.  Zoe's father is long out of the picture and there are no other close relatives and so Alice has to look at virtual strangers, Kate her oncology nurse and Sonja the social worker, but these women also have the own secrets and demons can they all pull together and sort things out?

A great story, very emotional at times and not always easy, but definitely one that gets you hooked and stays with you after you have finished reading it
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Chick lit, with some interesting/heavy themes, motherhood, family, cancer, social anxiety, spousal abuse, alcoholism, infertility. It kept my attention, but the characters were a bit one note/stereotyped, and the everything ended up working out all too easily, the ends all nicely tied up in a bow, for my taste.
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Sally Hepworth
The Mother’s Promise

Alice and her daughter are a tribe of two, that is until Alice’s cancer diagnosis. Facing surgery and chemo, Alice realizes that 15-year-old Zoe--who’s paralyzed by social anxiety--will need more than just her mom. Grab the tissues: this story of a mother’s search for a loving, fierce protector for her child won’t leave you dry-eyed.
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I really enjoyed this book! It was a very emotional story from page one right through to the last page. I liked the way there were glimpses of joy amongst the sadness. And I liked the way the characters were portrayed and the way they came together to form a sort of community. Sally was very detailed in her writing as not all authors are. The characters are very developed. They are all dealing with their own personal issues with themselves and with others. Alice and her teenage daughter Zoe have to face Alice’s illness and learn to let other people into their lives. Zoe is trying to overcome her personal challenges and muddling through her friendships with the other kids at school. A brother and sister and two sisters are trying to bond with each other. And there is a father and his daughter learning to understand each other. Also, there are married couples dealing with abuse and loss. I think that this book would be a great choice for a book club. The relationships throughout the book would make very good topics to analyze and discuss.
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I really enjoyed reading this book. I love reading books about motherhood because it is an all-consuming thing in my life right now.
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4 Stars.
Is it possible to rely solely on someone else and have it be to both of your detriments?  Even if you have the tightest bond imaginable and can't imagine hurting the other?  What if, in relying solely on each other, you end up enabling each other's behaviors and realize it a little to late to pick up the pieces?

In A Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth, Alice Stanhope and her fifteen year old daughter, Zoe, are thick as thieves, the best of friends, loners.  Alice successfully runs her own business, her daughter Zoe is a high school student, who suffers from a crippling case of social anxiety disorder.  The only person that Zoe can even talk besides her mom is her friend Emily and even that has its disastrous moments.  As soon as Zoe feels afraid, is given attention, is laughed at or smiled at, she does the only thing that makes her feel safe, she runs home to her mother.  This, make Alice feel needed.  It has always been the two of them against the world, so when Alice gets a devastating cancer diagnosis, she isn't afraid for herself, she fears for Zoe.  And for Zoe, who can barely speak to anyone but Alice, her life will never be the same.  She must be strong for her mother and find something within herself that's worth fighting for.  

What they learn, is that they can't go it alone anymore and that comes in two forms: in  Kate, a nurse at the hospital, who cares for Alice, and also takes Zoe under her wing, giving her advice and acting as a friend; and in Harry, a young teenage boy at Zoe's school, who, as it turns out has a few secrets of his own. All of this, aides Zoe in coming out of her shell like a small tiny butterfly, which her mother Alice witnesses and which gives her the peace she needs.

A Mother's Promise is about gathering a support system, of family, friends, acquaintances, whoever; to be around you when you need it most.  It's about learning to love people for who they are, not judging them for who they aren't and allowing them to grow as people no matter how much it hurts even if sometimes you get left behind.  

Sally Hepworth wrote a sweet, endearing, easy to read novel, filled with characters who I couldn't help but love: Zoe; Kate; and even Harry.  They grabbed my heart from the start and wouldn't let go.  The storyline tied up nicely in the end and I could have walked away, happy - yet there were a few core elements of the story that I struggled with including: Alice's decision to reject treatment for her socially anxiety ridden daughter in her grade school years, and thereby enabling and perpetuating a full fledged social anxiety disorder in a teenaged Zoe.  At first, I thought this was a huge oversight, but then I felt that in not making those choices, Ms. Hepworth chose for Zoe struggle more later in life, allowing her to blossom at the end, which allowed her mother Alice to see the transformation, when little else was left. 

All in all, a job well done for a lovely, heartfelt, easy read.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Sally Hepworth for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 2.18.17.

*Will be published on Amazon on 2.21.17
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Single mom Alice Stanhope and her 15-year-old daughter Zoe are leading a safe, insulated existence that's turned upside down when Alice is diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. The prospect of losing her mother only serves to aggravate Zoe's crippling social anxiety disorder, which is tested as new people begin to invade her safe haven - Alice's social worker Sonja and nurse Kate are insistent that, now more than ever, Zoe can't close herself off from the world.

As Zoe is forced to step outside her comfort zone, she learns to build trust with a select few people - the seemingly perfect boy who sits in front of her in one of their classes, the best friend who struggles to understand her, and especially Kate. Zoe comes to rely on Kate, which Alice can't help resenting. Even the school therapist seems to be getting through to Zoe, and slowly but surely she emerges from her protective bubble and learns to trust herself and the world around her.

Meanwhile, Kate and Sonja are struggling with their own demons - ones that have serious implications for Zoe and Alice.

This was my first time reading a Sally Hepworth novel, and I wasn't disappointed. The characters felt so real to me as the POV shifts between these four women and the joys and sorrows they face on a daily basis. I kind of saw part of the ending coming from a mile away, but I don't think Hepworth was trying too hard to conceal that outcome.

The relationships between the four women and the people in their lives also felt very natural and relevant. I think most readers will find a bit of themselves in Zoe, Alice, Kate and/or Sonja. The author tackles issues that are painful to confront, yet so important to deal with.

I don't usually find myself crying over books, but if you're prone to that sort of thing, you'd better have the tissues handy.

After reading "The Mother's Promise," I definitely want to check out more of Sally Hepworth's books. I hope her other works are just as refreshingly honest as this one.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Mother’s Promise delves deeply into issues that affect people all around us and wraps them all up in one neat package that made for  a thought-provoking, heartwarming, powerful novel. The author does such a good job of digging deeply into why  her characters think and act the way they do, I could actually believe that she somehow experienced  the anxieties that they did.  And she had me experiencing their feelings too—that says a lot when a book makes me feel anxious or happy for a character. At times, I had to remind myself this was fiction!

The book takes a long, honest look at what it feels like to have no support system except for a fifteen-year-old daughter who has a disorder that is debilitating. The two have such a exclusive relationship that at times it’s difficult for them to reach out and let others in.  Woven into this story are  two other couples who have problems of their own.  As the book continued, I saw  some hard-won progress and a lot of soul searching. 

I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Last year, I discovered the writing of Sally Hepworth. I absolutely adored her novel The Things We Keep, so I was over the moon to learn she had a new book coming out. I was sure I was in for a very intense read, full of emotional depth and characters I could totally relate to, and that's exactly what she has delivered in her new novel, The Mother's Promise.

Alice and her teenaged daughter Zoe have been a team of two pretty much forever. Zoe's father isn't in the picture at all, and Alice has no family to speak of, so the two of them are quite the insular unit. Zoe has dealt with severe social anxiety since she was a young child, and Alice has devoted her life to protecting her daughter from the world. But when Alice is diagnosed with cancer, everything changes. Alice struggles to figure out what will happen to Zoe when she is no longer around to care for her, while Zoe herself is unable to fathom a world without her mother in it.

Knowing she and Zoe need help, Alice reaches out to Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, her social worker. Both women are basically strangers to Alice, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Alice needs to find stability for Zoe before it's too late. Unfortunately, both Kate and Sonja are dealing with their own family problems, problems that affect Alice and Zoe in ways none of them could have previously imagined.

Kate always wanted to be a mother. Sure, she has a wonderful husband and two great stepchildren, but she still feels a void she's sure only a baby can fill. She and her husband have tried everything, including very expensive and emotionally draining fertility treatments – but to no avail. Kate has suffered several miscarriages, and now, her husband tells her he doesn't think they should try again. In hopes of distracting herself from her own grief, Kate strikes up an unlikely friendship with Zoe. She finds herself consumed with thoughts of the girl and her terminally ill mother, and takes steps to help them. Kate doesn't always make the right decisions, but her heart is in the right place, something Alice comes to realize as time passes. Initially threatened by Zoe's relationship with the nurse, Alice soon understands that Kate and her husband are in a unique position to help Zoe once she is gone.

Sonja is a middle-aged social worker, married to a world-renowned child psychologist. Every day, she convinces herself she's happy - she isn't poor anymore, she has a job that should fulfil her, and her husband means she’s the envy of all her friends and associates. But things aren't nearly as good as they seem on the outside. As she comes to know Alice and Zoe, Sonja must confront some deeply disturbing truths about the life she's chosen for herself, and in the end, is forced to make some really unenviable choices.

I think Zoe is my absolute favorite character in this book. As someone who has suffered terrible anxiety for over thirty years, I was able to identify with her on a number of levels. I admired her strength and determination, even in the face of her fears. She's a little immature at the beginning of the novel, but she makes amazing strides as the story continues.

People are often miraculously cured in today's fiction, and I can never feel completely at peace with those kinds of endings. I like my stories to be true-to-life, and miracle cures are rarely a part of reality, so the fact that Ms. Hepworth doesn't employ this plot device is a definite point in her favor. This is a very intense novel, filled with a lot of pain and heartbreak, which may make it difficult for some people to read - but I urge you all to give it a try. Ms. Hepworth is a gifted writer who makes her readers care about her characters and the issues they're forced to deal with, those that turn out in their favor and those that do not.

My one complaint is with Sonja's storyline. Without giving the big reveal away, I'll say I found her presence in Alice's and Zoe's life a little too pat and coincidental. Also, her overly brusque way of dealing with people makes her a difficult character to fully support. True, not all social workers give off massive amounts of the warm fuzzies, but Sonja's coldness is very hard to take at times, especially considering she is supposed to be making things easier for Zoe and Alice.

I recommend The Mother’s Promise to anyone who loves books revolving around themes of family. Just be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand, as it’s sure to make the tears flow.

reviewed by AAR's Shannon
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel early.

I found this book to be well-written, the characters to be well-thought-out, and the subject matter very real. 

I suffer from anxiety, as does one of the main characters in this novel. The research and thought that went into this book by the author was thorough, and it touched me to no end.

Without giving anything away, if you want a book that is a joy to read and reflective of real people and the real world, this is the one you should pick up.
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Hepworth's writing is so fluid and easy to read. It makes for a very fast reading book despite the uncomfortable topic. I loved all of the characters but I especially loved Zoe. Hepworth was able to describe the feelings of social anxiety disorder exactly without making the reader feel as if everyone with social anxiety disorder will have the same symptoms as Zoe. The love between Alice and Zoe makes for a wonderful contrast to the sadness that comes with the territory in a book about a mother's cancer. Alice finds ways of helping Zoe to have a full life even though she suffers from anxiety. This book does have some twists and turns that will hold the interest of the reader but this book is more about the love of a mother. Alice will sacrifice anything in order to protect Zoe. This book was beautiful and touching. I really enjoyed it and think that readers who enjoy stories about family relationships will enjoy it, as well.
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I enjoyed The Mother's Promise. For one thing, the main and supporting characters (Zoe, Alice, Kate, Sonia, and to a lesser extent Paul) all grew and changed in the course of the story. The theme seemed to be "we're all dealing with something, and we need each other," which was gratifying. I thought the author did a good job of creating individualized characters and making us care about them. The pace was satisfactory and the level of dramatic tension sufficient to hook me, enough so that I stayed up late to finish it. Also, the author did a good job of getting me emotionally involved. Finally, it was satisfying in that it was a YA story, but the mature women also had to grow and evolve. Something for everyone here.
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Yesterday was a cold, rainy day.  I sat down with my new Amazon Fire tablet and downloaded "The Mother's Promise".  I did not intend to spend the whole day reading but that is exactly what I did.  The characters in this book are so relatable that I immediately was sucked into their lives. Their problems became my problems and I was totally absorbed in this book.  Thank you Net Galley for  giving me a chance to read it before the publication date.  I belong to a book club, and it is for sure the type of book that we would choose to discuss. I will be reading other books by Sally Hepworth.
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Very disturbing book.   If you have cancer or are in remission or know of someone that has ovarian cancer I would suggest not reading this book.  It is depressing and I feel could have been written differently  were not such sad characters and such a disappointing ending.  The story relates the tale of a fifteen year old girl who has a severe anxiety disorder.  She is parented by a single mom who only wants the best for her daughter and tries to help her with her disorder but in reality seems to enable the child   The mother becomes very ill and has to rely on people that she does not know well to help her through her illness.  Kate, her nurse, has her own problems as does Sonja, the Social Worker.  In fact, everyone has a problem.  I think the author would want the reader to think the book has a happy ending but it does not end happily.  If you, or anyone you know, has been diagnosed with cancer I would suggest not reading this book.
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A single mother is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, terrible news for anyone. It's especially tough for Alice who has a teen-age daughter, Zoe, who has a social anxiety disorder. She has also literally no one to rely on. She has no family or friends as she has cut herself off from everyone.  Alice was a difficult character for me to like and I think she is responsible for Zoe's disorder even thought the doctors say she isn't.

  The cancer journey is very realistically documented. As a cancer survivor (not ovarian), I can tell you how accurate her reactions and process is. It was not necessarily a journey I wanted to go on but at least it was accurate. Alice has a real problem, she needs help.  She has to acknowledge it and then find it.  Luckily she lives in a well-to-do neighborhood in San Francisco, Atherton. There she finds incredible help from nurses and social workers.  She must have the best medical insurance in the world because the expenses never seem to be a problem.

  There is an interesting twist in this that elevates it to 4 stars. It would have gone higher but the twist was short lived and didn't impact the story as I thought it would have. Still it was interesting story about letting go and letting people help you.  It's an important lesson that many fighting cancer discover.
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