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review 2018-01-16 00:50
The Promise Between Us
The Promise Between Us - Barbara Claypole White

By: Barbara Claypole White 

ISBN: 9781542048989

Publisher:  Lake Union 

Publication Date: 1/16/2018 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars ++


Bestselling author, Barbara Claypole White returns following (2016) Echoes of Family and (2015) The Perfect Son with her best yet, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US. 

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.



A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 14, 2018 at 11:04pm PST

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). TPBU 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 BETWEEN 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. It is not pretty. The blame and addictions start rolling in. 

When reading, Jake strongly reminds me of Kevin in some ways. (actor, meltdown, obsessive, self-absorbed, etc.) Now in therapy. Randall is successful, has OCD, and childhood issues; Kate has an eating disorder. Jack, the dad, is an alcoholic. 

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 instant I finished reading, immediately called my son to discuss my grandson. 

On a personal note: I have a bit of OCD (not the voices, intrusive thoughts, or images); however, with perfectionism in work. A strong desire to have everything to carry out a certain way, home meticulously organized, disliking disruptions, and finding it difficult to stop until a task is complete. A total driven workaholic. 

This form of life causes internal and external stress and anxiety, which is not good for your health, especially your heart. Ironically my dad, myself, and my son have the heart issues, auto-immune problems, difficulties sleeping, highly creative, artistic, and Type A driven personalities. A week before my dad passed away at 84 he is worried about vacuuming the carpet and dusting the ceiling fans. 

You look at others and wonder how they can sit down and relax when something is not complete? Unthinkable. I inherited this from my dad, and have passed it down to my younger son (drives his wife nuts), and now my eight-year-old grandson (very artistic and a worrier). 

Often people without these tendencies say, "just get it over it." It will not go away, as the book reiterates. However, with the understanding of those around you, the education and proper help, it can be managed.

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. Often kids will shut down with their parents. If only every child had a "someone" to turn to for understanding. 

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 intensity, and 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. 

Plus a former Piedmont Triad NC native, love, and support NC authors. 

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! While all White's books I have read have been 5 stars; this one is on a higher level, a 5 Star + +. 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.





Advance Praise


“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 




Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/01/The-Promise-Between-Us
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review 2018-01-06 22:53
A book of stories about the female experience with a powerful voice
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories - Carmen Maria Machado

I finally read this celebrated book, and it’s quite a read. It’s all at once devastating, complicated, weird, queer, scary, sometimes funny, and the writing was always beautiful. Machado has written about the female experience in a number of different stories, some I enjoyed vastly more than others, some captivating me, a couple dragged on a bit. But this is unlike anything I’ve read before. A book YOU should probably all read! 

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review 2017-12-28 16:15
I'll Be Home for Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas - Roisin Meaney

Wow. I did not like this book at all. This is the third book taking place on the Island of Roone. I am a sucker for series books and this one just turned into a mess. Maybe because the story just focuses on two characters (Laura and Tilly). I just had a hard time with how things worked out in this book, and also how we just heard about but never saw characters. I maybe rolled my eyes at how Nell's stepson seemed to just walk into a room and some teen girl falls for him (just like in book #2). Though it was a Christmas book, it barely figured into this story I thought.


Laura has dealt with some tragic things in the two years we have seen this character. She had another baby and is constantly fighting with her husband Gavin. She seems to hate the air he breathes and is angry that he invited his mother to visit before the holidays. Laura is a pill in this almost until the end. You find out what is going on with her and why she's acting the way she is, but I started to run out of sympathy for her at the halfway point.


Tilly was born and raised in Australia. You initially don't get who she is, but Meaney lets you know after a few chapters why Tilly is so focused on getting to Ireland and Roone. Tilly just makes a terrible decision after terrible decision. I also didn't get her parents in this book. They barely felt present to me. Considering everything that Tilly is involved with before she leaves Australia, I had a hard time buying her parents would let her leave the country during Christmas.


We get some sightings of Nell, James, and Jame's son. We hear about characters such as Eve and Nell's father. I felt disappointed in this one, cause Laura and Tilly are not that exciting on their own.


The book dragged for me until the very end when things magically get wrapped up. I thought there was too much going on in this one though. We get storms, a death, fighting every five seconds, etc. I just thought it was too much to read about happening in just a few days.

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review 2017-12-28 16:06
After The Wedding
After the Wedding by Roisin Meaney (18-Sep-2014) Paperback - Roisin Meaney

So I didn't realize this was a sequel to an earlier book. I was able to follow along quite easily though since there are callbacks to book #1 throughout this book. I wish that I had liked it more, but it just was way too long and dragged in a lot of parts.


"After the Wedding" is told in the third person and we get to follow several characters who live in or are someone related to inhabitants of the island of Roone.


Nell is preparing to finally marry James (they were in book #1). Nell initially dated James's brother Tim, but now the two of them are together. And Tim ended up marrying Nell's long time pen pal (this whole book is so incestuous).


Nell's mother has been gone about two years and she is still missing her every day and devastated that she is gone. Nell and James are happy though until James's brother Tim comes back to Roone seemingly hell bent on ruining things for the two of them.

We also follow Laura who has turned Walter's home into a B&B. Living with her partner Gavin, her two twin sons, and expecting another set, Laura is content with how things are with Gavin. She doesn't want to marry again since she feels like she already married the love of her life who died and she doesn't feel that way about Gavin.


Nell's father is realizing that though he walked away from his marriage, his affair with the other woman is not all it's cracked up to be.


Imelda and Hugh are now going to be foster parents. They get a teen girl called Eve who does her best to keep them at arm's length for pretty good reasons.


We also have a plot that kind of ties things together with a young girl who goes missing. It turns the island upside down with many people scared that something dark and ugly could happen there.


I found myself most interested in Eve's story. No spoilers, but it was heartbreaking.

I didn't find myself engaged at all with Laura. I actually found her offputting with how she kept thinking and talking about Gavin. I wouldn't have blamed him for running off.


I honestly felt baffled about why Nell didn't tell James's she was uncomfortable about his brother being around.


The writing was okay. I am used to Meaney's writing at this point. I have read three other of her books. I just thought honestly that going from character to character hurt this book. Since this book is set up to be a sequel of the first book and is supposedly about Jame's brother not wanting to let go of Nell, that whole story-line barely figures in the first half of the book. When it comes up, it is dealt with in a few chapters and not very well I have to say.


The ending left things up in the air for many of the characters which is why I got book #3 in this series.

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review 2017-12-28 15:51
The Last Week of May
The Last Week of May - Roisin Meaney

Wow. I can see why many are calling Roisin Meaney the new Maeve Binchy. I really enjoyed this one a lot.


We get to follow a cast of characters through one week taking place in the Kilpatrick, Ireland. Not everyone gets a happy ending, and some people still seem to be obtuse as hell at the end of the book, but I really enjoyed this one.


The main characters are:


May, dealing with heartbreak, moved to Kilpatrick and doing odd jobs to support herself and her father.


Pam, takes care of May's father while she is out at work and is dealing with some things with her husband Jack which are causing her to be worried about their future.


Bernard who is the local florist and scared that someone is out to get him and his live in lover are a couple who are dealing with someone who is focused on hurting them because they are gay.


Paddy who is in love with May though he's never formally met her.


Paul who is ready to throw away his life due to a fling.


Carmel who is obsessed with Paul.


Marjorie who doesn't know how to talk to her daughter anymore.


There are some other characters that we get to see in this one, but I don't want to spoil too much. I really did enjoy everyone (even the characters who were doing terrible things).


The writing was really good and I got a kick out of following these characters for a full week. I loved the ins and outs of everyone and how everything ends up being connected in the end around a single event.


The flow actually is good in this one even though we go back and forth between characters. Meaney does a good job with everyone's voices so no character sounds exactly like the other one. She also helpfully makes sure she calls out who is "speaking" when the passage switches between people. I didn't find that necessary though to include due to how different everyone sounds.


The setting of Kilpatrick felt small at times, but I think it was supposed to due to us following about 10 characters (here and there) throughout the book.


I loved how the ending we get leaves things up in the air, but we can guess what happens next. I would love to read about this group in a sequel someday.

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