Friday, February 16, 2018

The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White

It's no news to any of my readers that Barbara Claypole White is one of my favorite authors. And so, when given the opportunity to read her latest, I would never have said no. I had actually pre-ordered the book, but was given an advance digital copy to read and review. Of course, with life the way it is, I haven't had a chance to post my complete review before now. 

** As always, there are affiliate links throughout this post. If you use them to purchase the book I may earn a few cents at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support! **

Now. Let's discuss how The Promise Between Us does not disappoint.

Barbara Claypole White writes mental health unlike any author I've read before. She really gets into the thick of it. The good - the bad - the ugly. And for many there is just so so much ugly.

This is how we get to know Katie Mack. In the thick of the ugly.

Katie is a new mom who cannot stop the intrusive thoughts running through her head. She's afraid she's going to hurt her baby girl. She's horrified by the fears, and cannot describe them. She needs help. What she has, though, is a husband who is terrified. Of what she's saying. Of how she's saying it. Because of this - this miscommunication - this lack of understanding - Katie leaves her daughter Maisie's life in the very early days.

We later learn that there is so so much more to what has happened - and is now happening between these two. We also get to meet their daughter.


What can I say about Maisie?

She's this lovely young girl who has her own not-yet-recognized demons. The voices in her head. The thoughts she can't stop from racing. The confusing fears. The checking behaviors.

Upon an accidental run-in with her beautiful and somewhat grown daughter, Katie sees so much of herself. She knows Maisie needs help. But how? How to help her when she shouldn't really exist in Maisie's world at all?

The connection is immediate, and Katie is on a mission to find a way to help her child out before she finds herself watching this sweet girl self-destruct.

This book holds space for so many incredible characters.

Maisie lives with her dad, Cal, and step-mom, Lilah. When we meet the family they're awaiting a new addition, as Lilah is pregnant. Maisie is trying really hard to call Lilah 'mom'. Their relationship is a tenuous one, but proves to be extremely important later on.

There is so much we don't know, so much we assume, but there is a lot to learn about Cal, and Maisie's protective Uncle Jake - who is the first to step up and help her.

And I haven't even mentioned Ben. You need to meet Ben for yourself and decide what you think about him. He seems like a good guy with a heart of gold, seems like we could all use a "Ben" in our lives. But we have to wonder - is there more under there?

Claypole White's development of characters who live with mental illness - characters who hold their own - despite her ability to walk us through the intense symptoms of said illness - goodness, just so so good.

On first glance at my review I realized that I almost completely missed talking about mental illness. I began wondering why  - as it plays such an important role. Then I realized it's the writing that left me focused on the characters for who they are. The way the illness is written never left me questioning or in disbelief.

You don't have to have lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to believe what you're reading about how it takes hold of someone's life and often does not let go. How help is required. How it may feel like it's taking on a life of its own. The illness itself can seem to be a character in the story, but Claypole White does not overdo it, she simply includes it. Introduces us to it. Lets us see how it holds weight over the true characters. And does so beautifully.

The twists and turns through this extended family show the incredible dynamic of strangers and former loved ones who try and unite to do right by their favorite young girl.

I believe I'm a pretty good writer. A somewhat talented book reviewer. But when it comes to Barbara Claypole White's work my description doesn't do the story justice. You really need to get a copy and see for yourself.

For information on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder you can read up on it at the National Institute of Mental Health. 

To find treatment near you, head to this Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. 

Or call this helpline: 800-662-HELP (4357); 800-487-4889 (TTY)

You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for any additional emergency support you may need.

To find out more about Barbara Claypole White's other novels:

The Perfect Son (included in a list of my fave reads)

Echoes of Family

The In-Between Hour

The Unfinished Garden

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Twenty-two Years

Today is a very difficult anniversary for my family. It's a day we experienced a double-dose of loss over the years. And so, finding the words isn't always easy.

I've tried before. Shared my January Reflections. Repeatedly.

But tonight, before I tuck myself and my kiddo into bed, I'll be borrowing some that I used last year, and yes, admittedly, a few from the year before and adding a bit to them as I continue to grow in my grief.

My grandmother left us 22 years ago today. Twenty-two years. How is that even possible?

It's a lifetime. And yet, I had barely lived so much of my own life. Barely seen the world. Barely knew what the future would hold.

But I knew love.

I knew love because my family showed it to me. Showed me heart. Showed me just how important connection was and would always be. Showed me how to take care of those I loved. How to show up. How to be there, even when they barely knew we were. And how to hold on. My father was the strongest example of this you'd ever see.

I remember the second I found out she was gone. Remember it like it was moments ago. Losing someone who loved you with their entire heart - unconditionally - is a loss like no other.

Since that day my family has experienced more loss. More pain. More sadness. And my only solace is that they're together again. My father, his parents, his sister. A family unit that traveled the world to create a new life for themselves. A life unlike what they would have experienced had they stayed. A life that led to my own. Such a blessing that they made that trek. Such history there that I hold onto - even when some of the pieces are missing.

I love and miss them so. Parts of my incredible family together again. And me, us, their loved ones ... here, carrying them in our hearts always. I hope they are listening, on this beautiful and peaceful snowy day, and that they hear me as I whisper softly to them ... I love you.

If you'd like to find out more about my grandmother, I'd love if you'd head over to this post I wrote oh-so-many-years-ago: What I Remember.

And if you have a family member you've lost and would like to take a moment to honor and recognize, I hope you'll do just that in the comments. Say their name. Let me know who they are to you. Let me share in your memories and moments, as you have here in mine.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Best Fiction Books of 2017

reading, books, goodreads, fiction, novels, 2017 books, I recommend, favorite books, amreading,

This was not a big year for me when it comes to the total of books I read.

I normally try to set a goal of 100. I've been close once or twice over the years. I started my list-keeping in 2010.

This page isn't promoted on the front of my blog anymore because I rarely update it throughout the year, but if you'd like to see the titles of the books I've read from 2010-2017? You can find them here:


But in more recent years I have started documenting my favorite reads of each year, and so, this year - despite my falling short of even 40 titles - will be no exception. This list includes my favorite reads of the past year, but they're not in any actual order of expressed love. You can't go wrong, whichever you choose.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Motherhood Is ...

love, parenting, single mom, solomom, coparenting, divorce, motherhood, mom, daughter, mom and daughter, family

Good morning, y'all.

It's barely 7:30 and I'm ready for a nap.

My morning was, for lack of a better and more gentle word, interesting.

My morning was motherhood.

And if you're not this mom you may be wondering - what exactly does she mean?

Allow me to share this morning's definition of motherhood with you.

Motherhood is ...

Friday, January 5, 2018

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Last year was a bit of a bumpy year for me, personally. I've been through a lot and found myself off-track with reading and writing book reviews.

For 2018 I'm going to be more actively sharing what I've read - and I am going to try to do some more reviews for you. Some will be shorter, where I summarize why I loved the book, or didn't love it quite as much as I had hoped. Others will be longer and more detailed. Some will be sponsored, which only means I received a free copy of the book from the author or publisher or PR/book tour company - NOT that I was paid for reading/reviewing the book itself. And others will be books I've bought on my own, or had on my shelves or Kindle for a hot minute or a long while.

I will include affiliate links to enable you to click over to Amazon right away and buy the book if you're interested. I will always disclose this information to you.

So, welcome to Good Girl Gone Redneck's book chatter for 2018. And if you'd like to join me in discussing books and receive info on great book deals and steals, join me on Facebook in my reading group: I Like Big Books - hope to see you there!