The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The First Time She DrownedDate Published: March 15, 2016

Published By: Philomel Books

Pages: 352

Dates Read: 4/17/16-4/20/16

Edition Read: hardcover

Rating:  5 star rating graphic



Goodreads SynopsisCassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she 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 Thoughts: Trigger warning for suicide.

I have a lot to say about this book! The way this book was written completely sucked me into the story and I felt like I was inside Cassie’s head and going through all of these things with her the entire time I was reading. The relationship Cassie and her mother have is such a toxic and nasty one. The whole time I was reading I just kept thinking about the amazing relationship I have with my mom, and I couldn’t even imagine having such a horrible mother like Cassie did. The writing in this is some of the most beautiful writing I have read in a long time. Kerry Kletter has a way of describing things in the most unique way and things were pieced together in a way that made me want to savor the reading experience. There was such good development and growth in Cassie as the story went on and by the end she was almost an entirely different person than she was when the book started. Going into this I wasn’t expected to read one of the most beautiful yet heartbreaking stories, but that’s what I got and it was perfect. The subject of mental health was handled so well and described in such an interesting way. I can’t truly put into words how much I liked this book, and I feel like you need to read this to understand just how well done this book is. I will buy anything that this author puts out in the future. I would recommend this book to every single person who comes across this review, mostly though, I recommend this to mothers and daughters. Read it. It’s worth it.


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