REVIEW: THE PROMISE BETWEEN US, BY BARBARA CLAYPOLE WHITE

 

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.

My Thoughts: The opening portion of The Promise Between Us shows Katelyn MacDonald suffering in the throes of her fearful and anxious thoughts. Fears that she would hurt her baby; dark and frightening impulses that could lead to danger. The terrifying moments were excruciating, and when the story resumes, Katelyn is no longer in the picture, it is several years later, and her father, Callum, shows his perspective.

He and his wife Lilah are expecting a baby, while the two of them are trying to parent Maisie, now a ten-year-old child. Issues have cropped up for Maisie, and the two are struggling.

We then rejoin Katelyn, now Katie Mack, a metal artist. As she voices her thoughts, it is clear that she now has a diagnosis for her fears and anxieties: she is suffering from OCD. Not the kind of disorder that we often think of when we hear the term, but a much harsher, more painful version of the illness. The version that drove Katie away from her family in the fear that she would harm her baby.

I enjoyed learning more about OCD and discovering through the characters that there are strategies for dealing with the illness. Strategies learned in therapy.

How does an accidental meeting between Katie and her daughter Maisie, after nine years, offer up an opportunity for her to help her daughter, now struggling with the same disorder? How does she break through Cal’s fear and anger so that she can help her daughter? How does long-time friend Jake factor into the decision to communicate and learn from one another?

Secrets had kept them all at odds, but communication and help could bring healing.

This was an inspirational story, and I couldn’t stop reading it. My only problem was how many disabling disorders were going on within this small group, from the characters with OCD to some with PTSD. It was almost overwhelming, and sometimes I had to put the book down for a while. I did connect with the characters, though, and rooted for them all through their journeys. 4.5 stars.

***

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