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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The First Time She Drowned

Narrator: Jorjeana Marie


Publisher: Listening Library

Publication Date: 3/15/2016

Format: Audio

My Rating: 5 Stars

The beautiful struggle of a girl desperate for the one relationship that has caused her the most pain Cassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save. A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

My Review

Kerry Kletter delivers a powerful contemporary debut--an emotionally haunting tale of darkness and light, THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED hypnotic, deftly combining lyrical prose with heartrending subjects--an exploration into the complexities of family, mental illness, abuse, and depression. Things have not been easy for Cassie O’Malley. Since birth she knows something is not quite right. She tries desperately to seek her mom’s love. An absentee father, and a brother her mom seems to love. Cassie is invisible to her mom. What is wrong between mother and daughter? Two and half years earlier Cassie’s mom dumped her in a mental institution. At age eighteen, Cassie is able to start her life once again. However, with psychological damage, is she able to start anew, until she uncovers the trauma of her past, she has buried deep inside for protection? Will the darkness pull her under once again, or will she be strong enough to face her past? Why wouldn’t her mother believe her? Who can she count on? Once she leaves the institute, she has more issues to face. Slowly the past abuse comes in bits and pieces with the help of therapist. Her past has defined her. The deep rooted fissures in the O’Malley family come to the surface. She has to face the past, memories--love herself, in order to move forward. Powerfully written, Kletter follows one young woman's journey through heartbreak and loss to courage and resolve, as she searches for the truth. Superbly crafted combined with suspenseful narrative, THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED is a gripping, harrowing study of a troubled mother and daughter relationship, from a remarkable new storyteller. For fans of Jodi Picoult, T. Greenwood, Julie Buxbaum, and Rochelle B. Weinstein,as well as the YA and adult domestic suspense readers. I listened to the audio book, narrated by Jorjeana Marie, delivering a spellbinding performance! If this is a debut, can't wait to see what follows, from this talented author.

Review Links:


Praise for The First Time She Drowned: "Lyrical, emotional...resonant." —Entertainment Weekly "Beautiful and passionate . . . [Kletter is] a writer of great distinction and infinite promise." —Pat Conroy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad "[A] lovely and haunting keep-you-up-all-night heart-wrencher that is both beautiful and raw, painful and uplifting. It’s utterly amazing. An incredible read." —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places "Sentence by sentence . . . one of the most lyrical novels I’ve ever read. Haunting and exquisite." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything "The First Time She Drowned is an exquisite and masterful dive, a brave exploration into the complexities of family, and the saving grace of friendship. Kletter’s writing is hypnotic, her characters alive, her story tragic, beautiful, hopeful. Simply put, this book is stunning." —David Arnold, critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland "[A] beautiful, gut-wrenching ache of a story. If you are at all interested in books, this is required reading." —Becky Albertalli, author of the Morris Award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda "The best writers are able to tell the most difficult stories with the most empathy, and that’s just what Kletter does in this haunting debut. Complex, affirming, and beautifully written." —Stephanie Kuehn, author of the Morris Award-winning Charm & Strange "Gorgeous, sumptuously lyrical, luminous…a feast for lovers of language. The First Time She Drowned singlehandedly shatters every argument that YA books aren't fit fare for adults." —Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King * "[An] excellent debut novel....heart-wrenching....Readers who enjoy the suspense of unreliable narrators, as in Adele Griffin’s Loud Awake and Lost or Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit, will appreciate this one." —Booklist *STARRED REVIEW* "This heartfelt, lyrical debut will strike a chord with older teens who appreciate contemporary fiction." —Kirkus Reviews "An absorbing read." —VOYA "Kletter’s exploration of a dysfunctional raw with emotion…a sophisticated read.” —School Library Journal "Emotionally devastating...a complex novel that ultimately uplifts." —Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Kerry Kletter

Kerry Kletter has had a lifelong passion for story. She holds a degree in literature and has an extensive background in theater, having appeared in film, television, and onstage.

When not writing, Kerry can be found surfing, running, working with animals, or singing loudly in her car while stuck in LA traffic.

A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Kerry now lives in Santa Monica, California, with her partner, screenwriter David Zorn. The First Time She Drowned is her debut novel. Read More






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