the mother’s promise

The Mother’s Promise: A Novel
By Sally Hepworth
Published: 2018, St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Family Life, Mental Health

When the doctor gave Alice Stanhope the news, she was thinking about Zoe. Was she all right? Was today a bad day? What was she doing? In fact, Alice was so swept up in thoughts of Zoe that when the doctor cleared his throat she startled.

Imagine you are a relatively young mom, with a teenager daughter who has severe social anxiety, no husband, a difficult past. Your daughter has been your whole life; because of her anxiety, you have not had an opportunity to make connections with other adults, you are alone in the world, besides your daughter.

Imagine that you are a teenage girl, suffering from severe anxiety for most of your life. Because of your anxiety, the only friend you really have in the world is you mom; the only one who understands you completely, the only one who accepts you despite how your anxiety affects her life, the only one you could ever rely on and count on. Now imagine that one person, your whole world, has been diagnosed with cancer.

They have been a family of two for a very long time. They have only ever had each other to rely on. Now they face the possibility of losing each other. Now, they have to open themselves up to help, to relationships with other people, in order to survive this crisis.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. Sally Hepworth beautifully writes about the intricacies of a mother/daughter relationship. She has a fantastic way of capturing the positive and negative aspects of understanding and coping with anxiety from both the daughter’s viewpoint as well as the mother’s perspective.

The author was able to include and develop so many facets of life into one book. Mothers and daughters, being a single mother, dealing with social anxiety, cancer, finding your place in the world, life and death. It was a wonderfully, bittersweet story that I enjoyed reading. I definitely recommend it.

The truth is, I’ll never be normal. I’ll never be able to stand in front of a group and ad-lib a speech. I’ll probably never walk down the street without worrying if people are looking at me, I probably won’t be able to talk to a boy without sweating and shaking. But I’ll try to do these things anyway. So I won’t be by myself anymore. So I’ll be out in the world . . . with you.

The Mother’s Promise: A Novel

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The Memory Trees

The Memory Trees
By Kali Wallace
Published: 2017, Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins) Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Magical Realism, Mental Health


Beyond the window the morning was bright and glittering, the sky a breathless blue, and the hotels on Miami Beach jutted like broken teeth across the water, but all Sorrow could see was the orchard. There were trees whispering behind the walls of the office, and she almost believed if she turned—if she was quick—she would glimpse their sturdy thick trunks and rustling dead leaves from the corner of her eye.

I have seen this book recommended all over Bookstagram, and it is in a genre I have newly discovered that I enjoy so I waited and waited for it to come to the top of my hold list at the library. I was not disappointed.

There was just enough magic in the book, while the majority of the story line stayed within the real world. I do like when a book has a lot of the magical aspects to the book, such as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, but I also enjoy when it has just a touch of magic so that it could almost really happen.

:…a darkly magical novel about a mysterious family legacy, the bonds of sisterhood, and the strange and powerful ways we are shaped by the places we call home.”

As we follow Sorrow on her quest to regain her memories surrounding her sister’s death, we learn how much our present and future is shaped by our family, the history of our family, the dynamics of the family in our home, and the community in which we grow up in. Sometimes, our own actions are so influenced by previous generations, that we can wonder if we would have made a different choice if we had not had those influences and preconceived notions.

Kali Wallace has a wonderful way with words. Her descriptions were beautiful and you definitely could feel as if you were right there, within the pages, standing next to Sorrow, experiencing everything right along with her.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys magical realism or fantasy fiction.

There were no gaps in her memory anymore—the missing pieces had been here all along, cradled in the mountains and waiting—and in their absence the seams between the lonely lost child she had been and the person she was now were that much harder to find.

The Memory Trees

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Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
By John Green
Published: 2017, Dutton Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Social & Family Issues, Mental Health

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Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills
~Arthur Schopenhauer~

There has been a lot of chatter about this latest book from John Green all over the book world. Seeing that the subject matter was mental health, a subject that is surrounded by shame and stigma, I knew that I needed to get my hands on it and read it.

Throughout the book, we get to experience Aza’s life as she learns to live with anxiety. The author gives us a bird’s eye view on how it affects everything in her life; family relationships, friendships, romantic interests,¬†school, physical health and even her grief.

The fear had mostly sweated out of me, but as I walked from the cafeteria to history class, I couldn’t stop myself from taking out my phone and rereading the horror story that is the “Human Microbiota” Wikipedia article.

Everyone experiences moments of fear and feelings of being anxious. Not everyone can turn off those moments and feelings. John Green describes the experiences of those that cannot turn off those moments and how it affects every single minute of your life.

Everyone in the entire world needs to read this eye-opening book.
John Green does a phenomenal job of giving an inside look into the mind of someone who struggles daily with mental health. He does it beautifully with compassion, understanding, and grace. As someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety and depression), it was refreshing to see a book written from MY perspective. Many people often do not understand the struggles and what truly goes on within the mind of someone who fights mental health illness every single day. John Green finally gives us that viewpoint; and he does it in a way that anyone can understand, from teenagers to 90 year old grandparents.

As I washed and rebandaged it in the bathroom, I started at myself. I would always be like this, always have this within me. There was no beating it. I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me. My self and the disease were knotted together for life.

I will be doing a giveaway for my copy of the book on my Instagram account. Be sure to follow me HERE, for your chance to win my “signed copy” of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Turtles All the Way Down

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What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty

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Alice has just been moving along through life; 3 children, impending divorce, fitness aficionado, and trying to make her mark on the world. Busy, busy, busy. Then one day while at the gym, she falls and hits her head which results in the loss of her memories from the last 10 years of her life.

Can you imagine losing 10 years of your life? Can you imagine living in a world where everyone is telling you all about your current life situations but all you can remember is how it was 10 years ago? Can you imagine how strange and difficult that would be to wrap your head around?

How different would your life be if you could go back to your youth when you still had some innocence left and a fresh outlook on life? What would you do differently? What would you change about your current life? What about going back 10 years but having the maturity and knowledge that you have gained?

As you follow Alice through the book trying to regain her memories, confused and unhappy with the person she has become, it makes you reflect and ponder your own life and the choices you have made.
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Have you become the person you had hoped to be? What led you to the season of life that you are currently in?
Would you change anything at all if you could?

One of the reader questions in the back of the book is “What would surprise your younger self most about the life you’re currently leading? What would disappoint you?”
Please leave your response in the comments; I would love to hear your answers.

 

Now it seemed like she could twist the lens on her life and see it from two entirely different perspectives. The perspective of her younger self. Her younger, sillier, innocent self. And her older, wiser, more cynical and sensible self.

 

I highly recommend this book. It is a fantastic read that gets you thinking and reflecting on your own personal life choices and how your decisions can and have affected your future self. Liane Moriarty does a wonderful job of creating a fiction story that gets you working on your own personal development. I hope to be able to read more of her books in the future.

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 What Alice Forgot

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The Reason I Jump

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
By Naoki Higashida
Translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

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I have read a lot of books on autism. A lot.
My 2 oldest children are on the autism spectrum so I have done a lot of reading on this particular topic.

The majority of books and resources out there are written by medical professionals, which is fabulous because knowing the WHY behind autism and how the brain works is great knowledge as a parent.

There are also books written by those who have autism. However, they are written after the person has become an adult. Those books do give a good perspective of life with autism, but it still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
Most adults with autism have already worked through a lot of their disabilities. They have discovered coping mechanisms that help them to thrive in society.

As a parent of a child with autism, I wanted to know why they do some of the things they do. I wanted to know why they react to some of the things they react to. I wanted to know why certain things can cause a certain behavioral response for them. I wanted to know what goes on inside their head currently; not what they remember it being like once they have become an adult.

The Reason I Jump is unique in the fact that it is written by young teenage boy. It is written by someone who can give us true insight and perspective on the inner workings of a child with autism. Yes, each child with autism is different. However, there are some things that are the same or similar across the board for those on the spectrum.
Naoki Higashida gives us something that many parents of children with autism are seeking; answers.

I loved that the book was set up in a question and answer format. A question about a specific behavior was asked and Naoki answered it. There were times when he did not have an answer or reason; sometimes he really just did not know the cause behind a specific behavior or reaction.

Intertwined with small stories of his creating, The Reason I Jump gave me a unique perspective into the minds of my own children. There were a lot of light bulb moments for me that have helped change and shape some of my own responses and reactions to my children. Naoki helped open up the communication in our home even further.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some insight and perspective into the mind of any child with autism. It is hands down, THE best book on autism I have read thus far. I had originally borrowed it from the library, but after reading it, I realized that it is a book that I will refer back to again and again in the future so I went ahead and purchased my own copy.
Buy the book. Read it and then read it again. Then give it to anyone else who is in your child’s life. You will all be better for it.

I wish there were more books written by children on the spectrum. The insight and perspective that I gained from Naoki is priceless.

Maybe I can convince one of my own children to write a book.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

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