The Mother’s Promise, written by Sally Hepworth, follows Alice and her daughter Zoe as they ride the roller coaster of illness in their already isolated lives. Alice is a single mum – a real single mum, with no support, friends or people to care for her or her daughter. Zoe is 15 and has social anxiety disorder. The two live an insular life, relying heavily on each other for everything. Alice is diagnosed with palliative ovarian cancer, and the outcome is devastating.
Sally Hepworth has done a great job of capturing how isolating life can be for some people, and how people use their children to fill voids in their own lives and how this manifests for the child. Zoe only feels safe with her mother, and relies on her for everything, and then isn’t there to do so. The Mother’s Promise, for me, highlighted the need for children to be treated as children, not as a comforter for the adult or a way to ‘feel complete’. When Alice is no longer there, the impact on Zoe is so sad.
The role of Kate, the oncology nurse, and Sonja, the social worker are well developed and have their own story lines which complement the main story. Domestic violence, control, miscarriage, what parenting means to different people and how we manage relationships are all dealt with.
My advice is to grab the tissues and a pot of tea, and read the book at one sitting, or else you will sit around feeling sad and wondering what happens to them all!