All their lives, Alice Stanhope 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 needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers but who are her only hope: Kate, a 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 most dismal moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters and the new ways in which families are forged.

My Thoughts: From the very beginning pages of The Mother’s Promise, I was captivated by the challenges faced by each of the characters.

First there was Alice, a single mother diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease, confronted with the realization that she will be unavailable to her needy daughter while she fights her illness. Then there is Zoe, the fifteen-year-old daughter who suffers from social anxiety so crippling that speaking, eating in front of others, or forming any kind of normal connections becomes a daily struggle. Being at home with her mother is her only comfort zone.

As Alice begins to deal with her illness, she meets Kate, a nurturing nurse who goes above and beyond to assist, even taking Zoe into her home to avoid foster care placement during her mother’s hospitalization. Kate’s seemingly perfect life is full of personal heartbreak, but I liked seeing how she reached out to Alice and Zoe. The bond developing between Kate and Zoe was a blessing for them both.

Sonya, the hospital social worker, who seems closed-off and occasionally distant…has her own secret battles. Her marriage to George is not what it seems.

The circumstances of Zoe’s conception, and the identity of her father are woven into the story in unexpected ways.

I liked watching Zoe slowly learn to deal with her issues, while her mother began to lean on others. An emotional read that kept me engaged until the very end, this book earned 5 stars.