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


  1. And I'm hooked. This sounds like such a great book and one I'd enjoy reading over this rainy weekend. (Also I can't pass up books with a character named "Lilah.") I love that the characters really seem relate-able.

  2. You have totally made my book baby's one-month anniversary. Anything about OCD is intensely personal for me, but I was really hoping that PROMISE was first and foremost a good read. Character is everything to me, and your review is like winning a gold medal. Thank you. 🌟


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