The Mother's Promise

St. Martin's. Feb. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781250077752. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466889927. F
Single mother Alice Stanhope has always understood the fears of her daughter; when Zoe's schoolmates make fun of her, Alice is there. At 15, Zoe tries to face her social anxiety disorder but crumbles when her best friend asks her to double date and she's unable to face the group at the movie theater. Then, Alice is diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer and realizes she is entirely alone except for her relationship with Zoe. Two strangers, Kate and Sonja, step up and help. Hospital nurse Kate is desperate to have a baby. Social worker Sonja's intervention causes a crisis. Although needy themselves, these two women may be Alice's only answer to protecting Zoe. Hepworth's (The Things We Keep) latest is a difficult novel of women struggling with fear and loss. As Alice battles cancer and struggles with possibly breaking a promise always to be there for her daughter, the various characters also deal with miscarriages and loss, marriage difficulties, rape, spousal abuse, and Crohn's disease.
VERDICT This bittersweet, emotionally intense novel is recommended for readers who appreciate issue-driven stories by Jodi Picoult and Lisa Genova. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/16.]
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