The Promise Between Us, Reviews


“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

“In this contemporary novel, a mother’s irrational fear that she might hurt her newborn baby leads to her abandoning the child. White (Echoes of Family, 2016, etc.) opens her tale as Katelyn MacDonald sits in her daughter’s nursery, suffering severe panic. Struggling with postpartum OCD, Katelyn sees one violent image after another in her mind. Although her daughter, Maisie, is crying in her crib, Katelyn cowers on the floor, afraid to pick her up for fear that she might hurt the child. When her husband, Callum, returns home, Katelyn confesses her worries and begs for help. Unfortunately, he misinterprets the pleas as threats, taking Maisie and barring Katelyn from their bedroom. The narrative then jumps a decade into the future; Callum has become Maisie’s primary caretaker, and Katelyn has not been a part of her daughter’s upbringing. After several difficult years, Katelyn has relocated to Durham, North Carolina, and taken up sculpting as a means of confronting and channeling her anxiety. When her art brings her to a docent program in Raleigh, where she lived with Callum and her daughter, she soon runs into Maisie, a talented student. Maisie believes her mother is dead, and Katelyn does not reveal her identity. As Katelyn, who now goes by Katie Mack, gets to know Maisie through the docent program, she begins to suspect that her daughter has inherited OCD. Rather than leaving town, Katie decides it is time for her to step up and prevent OCD from ruining her daughter’s life the way it did her own. Throughout the absorbing novel, White skillfully shows both Maisie and Katie dealing with destructive and irrational fears (“An old image pounced. One she hadn’t seen in a while. Her hands picking up Maisie…and throwing her down the stairs. The images of harming Maisie had long vanished because Maisie was no longer part of her life. But what if they were back in the same city?”). By taking readers inside the minds of several characters, the author paints a clear and unforgiving picture of mental illness and its ramifications. Although the narrative grows increasingly convoluted as the book progresses, the story feels realistic and relevant. In accessible and engrossing prose, this sentimental tale also explores the struggles inherent in parenting, coupling, and maintaining meaningful relationships. A challenging and important story about the difficulties of living with mental illness.”
Kirkus Reviews

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