The Promise Between Us
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 1/16/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars + Top Books of 2018 “This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return. But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?
To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret.
Heart-wrenching a profoundly moving, and insightful story of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and mental health. Relationships. Battling the monsters of the mind. Educating the family members and close friends. Deep understanding and empathy.
Compelling, beautifully written, and emotionally-charged, you sympathize with each of the characters as they come alive on the pages. A story of shame, love, hope, and redemption.
“Every thought is just a thought until you assign it meaning.” — Angie Alexander, founder of Friends with OCD
Written passionately, from five viewpoints —meet Katie, Callum and Maisie MacDonald. Second wife, Lilah, and Callum’s best friend, Jake.
In Raleigh, NC after the birth of Katelyn (Katie) and Callum’s daughter Maisie, Katelyn begins experiencing harmful thoughts and images. As a mother, she is afraid she will hurt her child. She wants to protect her, and she doesn’t understand what is happening. She wants nothing more than to be a good mother. She worries about everything. Her daughter's safety.
Katelyn has told no one of her private horror movies playing inside her head. Violent images. Not Cal, not the doctors. Images that play over and over. She is powerless. They may take her away from Maisie. She would lose her forever. She wants to protect her. They would lock her away and think she was crazy.
She had told the doctor she was worried all the time and he said it was depression and PTSD. Easy fix, they say, “pills and think happy thoughts.” She knows nothing of postpartum OCD.
Katelyn has a haunting past. According to the professional, adults never escape their childhoods. She saw her mother stab her father at the kitchen table. The dad ran off, and her mom prayed and drank, while she raised her baby sister, Delaney. She was only twelve years old.
When she finally asks for help, her husband does not understand. He has his inner demons (which he has not shared with his wife). She senses her husband is terrified of her.
Flash forward we hear from Callum (Professor) which is now raising ten-year-old daughter Maisie. He is newly married to Lilah which is pregnant.
Jake (uncle J) has been a best friend of Callum’s since grade school and is single. He is a big part of their lives. We also learn later in the book; he also has secrets of the past. Why is he so engrossed in their lives?
Katie (former Katelyn) now a metal artist living in Durham, NC. She works with Ben, the star of the studio. He took her on as a project, years earlier when she became his intern.
Her work takes her to a docent program in Raleigh, where she lived with Callum and her daughter. She is very nervous about returning to the area. Her anxiety level is high.
A student. A talented fifth grader, Maisie. Her daughter. She believes her mother is dead. Katelyn now goes by the name of Katie Mack. She keeps quiet and enjoys interacting with the girl. Her precious daughter. However, immediately, she suspects her daughter has inherited her OCD.
She has all the signs. She becomes concerned for her well-being. She knows what she will face and how she thinks. She will be the one to help her. However, how will she convince Cal, his new wife, and J she has Maisie's best interest at heart?
“OCD goes after what matters most." Tortures you with your worst-case scenario — Staying away from Raleigh was no different from dumping all the knives in the trash nine years earlier. Avoidance.
Katie still hears the voices inside her head. However, she has learned to deal with them differently. She knows she has OCD. OCD lies. It does not go away; however, it is up to her to manage them.
A woman desperate, abandoned her daughter and family because she thought she, was a monster. Living with her dog in a tent for seventeen months with her dog until he died. She wanted to go home, but suicide seemed the only option.
When that did not work, she knew she had to do something. Without the resources and money to get the help she needed. Self-directed therapy. She grew up with an unfit mother and knew she did not want that for Maisie.
She decided to tackle her fear. She had nothing to lose. Her first welding class. If she could control fire and make something beautiful of it, she could do so with her life.
The author cleverly unravels the past and the horrific journey of Katie. From being alone, helpless, homeless, with no health insurance, or anywhere to turn. At one point she turned to suicide but was saved. With her sister’s help and her new career, she was making a life for herself. She continues to tell herself.
“I control fire; I am strong. I’m a welder who works in a helmet decorated with Power Girl stickers.”
This time she will not leave. However, with this disease, stressful situations bring out the beast. She will help her daughter before it is too late.
For nine years she had backed herself into a corner and played into the hands of OCD. Convinced herself staying away was the right thing to do. She had remained dead to both Cal and her daughter.
This time she will face her fears. She will be there for her daughter. Katie may be the one person who is instrumental in everyone facing their demons of the past. Understanding mental illness
Riveting and thought-provoking! The author gets into the minds and hearts of each character. Each person plays an essential part in the overall storyline. (the twist with Cal and Jake) Thereby, providing further depth. Their history, tragedies, anxieties, fears (both past and present). TPOU is not a story just for women. Men play a big part and highly recommend to all readers and genders, and especially parents and grandparents.
THE PROMISE BEWEEN US reminds me of the show (I love) This is Us. (well-received) And back for the next season. Especially this past week’s new episode with (Kevin) in therapy and the family is called in for a joint session.
An excellent example of how those close to these persons cope and their troubled relationships. The Pearson family's generational story unfolds in this TV emotional drama. In moments of love, joy, triumph, and heartbreak; much like the MacDonalds in THE PROMISE BETWEEN US.
An often misunderstood illness leads people to make desperate decisions, which change the course of their lives. A group of people trapped in a difficult situation with difficulties. A ripple effect on those they hold close.
Riveting, suspenseful and enlightening. Every person should read this book. You will learn something and be more sympathetic and understanding of others.
The author does an extraordinary job tackling the topic of mental illness with meticulous research and well-developed characters.
The characters tell the story. (this must have been a bear to write). Hat's off to the author! An absorbing (inspiring) journey of one woman’s story of motherhood, love, and determination. Your heart will go out to Katie. She was the perfect person to reach out to Maisie.
The title, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US, speaks volumes. More than one promise. More than one with mental illness in this story. Some only hide their illness. White skillfully demonstrates how everyone has a different form of the disease. Everyone handles it differently.
When spiraling out of control, it can be devastating. From childhood to adulthood. OCD is an illness of the mind. When thoughts are not the problem, but how we deal with them.
Written with passion and intensity, with a mix of humor, a total package from the first page to the last. Not an ordinary family drama. It almost reads like domestic suspense. It is riveting, and readers will be turning the pages dying to discover the mystery behind Cal and Jake's personalities.
The author is at the "top of her game." A perfect choice for book clubs with discussion question included the inspiration behind the book and additional resources for OCD.
Highly recommend! For fans of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain and of course, the TV series, This is Us.
A special thank you to Lake Union and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. Have also pre-ordered the audiobook performed by Justine Eyre.
Jan Top Reads
“If you leave your newborn child because you have unstoppable thoughts of harming her, are you a good mother or a terrible one? This dilemma is at the heart of Barbara Claypole White’s novel, a wrenching story of how one woman’s OCD has a ripple effect on those around her—including the people she tried hardest to protect. This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
“Barbara Claypole White does not merely write about people with mental illness—she inhabits them; she IS Katelyn, the young mother overcome with images of killing her new baby, the mother who leaves her baby to keep her safe…Later White IS that same child, Maisie, now beginning to struggle with OCD herself—and all Maisie’s worries, all her thoughts and the details of her pre-teen life are precisely, exactly right. Perfect. White knows how to tell a story, too, how to fully create each additional realistic and fascinating character, and also how to increase suspense as the family drama unfolds. This brilliant novel about obsessive compulsive disorder is compulsively readable.” —Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls
“In The Promise Between Us, bestselling author Barbara Claypole White explores survival, shame, and above all, compassion. With the deft hand of a true artist, she creates complex characters, whose lives have been ravaged by mental illness—when it goes unchecked and through its tumultuous effect on generations of women from one family. Readers will be drawn into Katie Mack’s world, they’ll root for her and her daughter, Maisie. The Promise Between Us redefines motherhood and sacrifice, delivering a heartfelt story with a powerful message.” —Laura Spinella, bestselling author of the Ghost Gifts trilogy and Unstrung
“Barbara Claypole White knocks it out of the park with her latest family saga, The Promise Between Us. In this riveting page-turner, Claypole White digs deep into the intricacies of her characters’ lives and the devastating effects of a mental illness when left unchecked. It can easily be classified as a story about motherhood, family, and sacrifice. But mostly, it’s a tale of love, redemption, and renewal. The Promise Between Us has something for everyone: suspense, romance, and even a hint of mystery. A fast-paced read that captivates from the first word until the last. A definite book club selection that I highly recommend.” —Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal and Amazon Kindle bestselling author of Everything We Keep
“In The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White masters the art of bringing a reader up close and personal to the influences and forces of a mental illness. In this powerhouse of a story, Katelyn MacDonald’s decision to give up the precious gift of raising her baby, Maisie, in order to protect her, makes for a compelling page-turner. This is an in-depth portrayal of what it means to live in a world where every single thought or action comes into question; it is a story for the times, a story filled with stark realities; but most important of all, it is a story about hope, healing, and the strength of a mother’s love.” —Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Education of Dixie Dupree
“With The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White gives us compelling characters and wonderfully complex relationships to shed important light on too little known, too little discussed challenges of mental illness.” —Laurie Frankel, bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“Some books make you stop and think, and compel you to examine your own perceptions, how you feel about an issue. The Promise Between Us is such a book. The complication at the heart of the story is riveting: suffering symptoms of postpartum OCD that could lead to her harming her newborn, a young mother does what would be unthinkable for most new mothers. She leaves her baby in order to protect her. Is it the right decision? As the consequences continue to ripple out over the next several years, lives are unraveled and rebuilt in ways that are surprising, sometimes painful, often joyful. Combining elements of suspense and romance with laugh-out-loud doses of wonderful humor for leavening, this is ultimately a story about the redemptive power of love. This is Barbara Claypole White at her finest.” —Barbara Taylor Sissel, author of The Truth We Bury
About the Author
Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her beloved OCD family. Her previous novels include The Unfinished Garden, The In-Between Hour, The Perfect Son, and Echoes of Family. She is also an OCD Advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity. To connect with Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com or follow her on Facebook. She’s always on Facebook. Read More