"The Mother's Promise"

If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, Lisa Scottoline or Catherine McKenzie, you will enjoy this novel by Sally Hepworth. “The Mother’s Promise” is a quick read.

It is the story of Alice Stanhope and her high school daughter, Zoe. She and Alice live in Northern California and their only relative is Alice’s alcoholic brother, Paul. Zoe suffers from an acute social anxiety disorder. Their family of two is working out just fine until Alice is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and then their world is turned upside down and inside out.

Who will help Alice get to her chemo appointments? Who will care for her when she gets home from the hospital? Who will look after Zoe while Alice is in the hospital? How will Zoe handle her mother’s illness? These are just a few of the issues that Alice faces.

Meanwhile Zoe is dealing with her own problems. Her best friend is mad at her and Zoe has volunteered to head up a debate team in her English class. Zoe thinks that by volunteering it will help her deal with her disorder, force her to step out of her comfort zone, but her anxieties are winning. Zoe wants her mother’s help but doesn’t want to bother her. Who can Zoe turn to? Who will understand her anxiety?

Alice is forced to ask for help from two strangers, Kate, a nurse at the hospital and, Sonja, a social worker who has been assigned to Alice’s case. Alice’s declining health brings the four of them together. Hepworth intertwines the lives of these four women in strange and surprising ways, sometimes catching you off guard. As the story develops so do the characters, exposing their vulnerabilities and long kept secrets. These women, these strangers, learn to look beyond their own pressing issues to help one another.

This book is a story of relationships, good and bad, of the bond between mother and daughter. It is a story of abuse, abandonment, fear and secrets. It is a story of strong women who put the importance of family first. You won’t be able to put this book down.