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.
Praise for The First Time She Drowned:
"Lyrical, emotional...resonant." —Entertainment Weekly, MUST LIST
"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 family...is raw with emotion…a sophisticated read.” —School Library Journal
"Emotionally devastating...a complex novel that ultimately uplifts." —Publishers Weekly
Kletter's emotionally devastating first novel portrays life under a domineering and narcissistic mother. Placed in a psychiatric hospital at age 15 by her family, Cassie O'Malley is terrified to leave her comfortable routine and friends when she signs herself out at 18 to begin college. Unable to cope with the expectations of college life, Cassie retreats further into herself, risking her chance for a fresh start until new friend Zoey and love interest Chris encourage her to socialize. When she begins seeing Liz, the school counselor, Cassie's flashbacks point to a manipulative mother, absent father, and siblings caught in the middle of their mother's battles for affection and control. Kletter frames wrenching moments between mother and daughter and troubling references to suicide with the murky outlines of Cassie's childhood memories, suggesting how easily one's life can spiral out of control when abuse is involved. When more disturbing memories surface, Cassie must decide whether to retreat into her mother's destructive realm or embrace her friends and trust that she is lovable. A complex novel that ultimately uplifts. Ages 14 up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
My favorite book
This is my favorite book and has been for years. I’ve read a lot of books and have had a lot to choose from, but this has always stuck out to me. My thought processes and the way I view things is just like Cassie. I’ve also had similar experiences, so maybe that’s the reason why I’ve loved it. Nevertheless, every time I reread this book, I remember why I love it so much.
This book left me speechless.
This is a great book. Well written. Loved the way the author describes the characters feelings and thoughts and their path in finding the light and themselves was amazing. I cried towards the end, but I am an emotional reader. Would totally recommend!