The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth delves into the lives of a single mother, Alice and her teenage daughter, Zoe. As Alice’s life is threatened with cancer she has to make decisions regarding custody for Zoe. Up until now the two have made a go of it on their own with no friends or family to speak of as a backup so they have to rely on the help of Alice’s oncology nurse, Kate, and her social worker, Sonja.
Each of Sally Hepworth’s characters are rich with humanity, flaws and challenges and I felt hopeful that each of these great women characters would survive their personal struggles. Reading about social anxiety, abuse, rape, alcoholism, Crohn’s Disease, infertility and cancer provided insight on the real challenges each present and I took the emotional journeys with Alice as she loses ground with her health, Zoe as she learns tactics to fight anxiety and comes into her own as a teenager, Kate as she feels alone surrounded by family as she battles infertility and Sonja as she gains courage to stand up to her husband. The story is beautifully woven and I couldn’t put it down as I read through my tears. The Mother’s Promise is available February 21, 2017.
The Things We Keep is about Anna, a 38 year old woman with early Alzheimer’s disease. Her family decides it would be best for her to live in an assisted living facility and while there under duress, she befriends the only other younger person in house, Luke. Eve, the cook at Rosalind House, learns of Anna and Luke’s blossomed relationship but after an accident and the staff choosing to keep the two apart, Eve chooses to risk her employment by allow them to see each other.
This is a heartbreaking story of how people’s lives can be robbed by Alzheimer’s but there is also a hint of hope as we go on the journey of two people developing a wonderful and fulfilling relationship all while their health goes downhill. Sally Hepworth knows how to make us feel joy, sadness, frustration, empathy and love in this very powerful novel.