In brief: It’s always been just Alice and Zoe in the family. But when Alice develops cancer, she needs to reach out for help to look after Zoe. That’s where her nurse Kate and social worker Sonja come in.
The good: Fast paced and emotional.
The not-so-good: Very emotional!
Why I chose it: I enjoyed The Things We Keep, thank you to Pan Macmillan for the copy of this book.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Setting: California, USA
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
If you enjoy Jodi Picoult’s novels, you’ll definitely enjoy Sally Hepworth. She has the extraordinary ability to harness the power of emotions (sometimes really strong ones) and put them between the benign looking confines of a book. I felt The Mother’s Promise was incredibly strong on tackling a number of issues and the extreme emotions that come with them. Even though it’s a moving read, it’s one that you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from.
The story revolves around Alice, a single mum who holds a lot together – a business and her daughter Zoe. Even though Zoe is a teen, Alice fiercely protects her. It’s really Alice and Zoe against the world. But that all changes when Alice is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Their tight little world needs to let some strangers in. Enter Kate, Alice’s nurse and Sonja, her social worker. They’ve promised to be there for Alice in a professional capacity, but it will turn out to be so much more than that as the story progresses. Kate has problems of her own and Sonja is hiding a secret you wouldn’t expect someone in her capacity to have. It’s difficult to explain the plot without giving away each character’s secrets, but ultimately it’s a story of love, trust and acceptance.
Within the overall plot, there are a lot of diverse issues explored, some uncomfortable. However, each of them is handled sensitively. They are also there for a reason; I didn’t feel like issues were there for the sake of having them but were really part of the characters and their lives. Sally Hepworth does an excellent job of delving into each character’s backstory and giving them reasons for why they have ended up where they are now. It made them very memorable and lifted them off the page.
There are some coincidences in the plot that some readers may need to suspend disbelief for. It’s those kind of a one in a million coincidences that make for a great story and makes the links between the characters even stronger. I personally didn’t find how the characters were all linked over the top, I felt it made the bonds between them even stronger.
It’s no small feat to create a book that combines great plot with great emotion to make a page-turner, but Sally Hepworth has done it.