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.
Author: Sally Hepworth
Title: The Mother’s Promise: A Novel
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published: February 21st, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
With every book, Sally Hepworth becomes more and more known for her searing emotional portraits of families—and the things that test their bonds. With The Mother’s Promise, she delivers her most powerful novel yet: the story of a single mother who is dying, the troubled teenaged daughter who is battling her own demons, and the two women who come into their lives at the most critical moment.
All their lives Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis.
Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the power of love and forgiveness.
About the Author
Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives. The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s debut novel as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. The Secrets of Midwives was also the highest selling debut Australian fiction of the year in 2015.
Sally is also the author of The Things We Keep, published in January 2016. The Things We Keep was a Library Journal Pick in the U.S. for January 2016, and an Indie Next Pick in the U.S. for February 2016. NYT bestselling author of The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion praised The Things We Keep calling it ‘A compelling read that touches on important themes, not least the different forms that love may take.”
Both novels were published worldwide in English and have been translated into several languages.
Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children.
Author photo and bio via Goodreads.