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The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
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The First Time She Drowned

by Kerry Kletter

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Cassie struggles to find herself outside of a tortured relationship with her mother. After being forced into a mental hospital, Cassie has finally gotten free. At 18, she checks herself out of the hospital and goes to college, a place she can reinvent herself. I loved the parts with Zoey and Liz, who genuinely want to help Cassie break free of the abusive relationship with her mother.

I did think it was a little odd that a student coming from a mental hospital to college wouldn't have some kind of support system already in place with college services, but I guess most schools wouldn't really care as long as you qualify and pay your tuition. Also, I would have liked to see more of Cassie rebuilding herself, instead of just being told in order to wrap it up more quickly. The book can be longer, honest! ( )
  colleenrec | Jun 23, 2017 |
The story of Cassie O'Malley is realistic and heart-rending. We journey with Cassie as she tries to cope on her own in college and come to terms with her relationship with her mother. We are with Cassie as she begins to accept help and friendship. We are with Cassie as she struggles to become who she really is, not who her mother led her to believe she is. With gradually revealed events in Cassie's childhood and young adulthood we come to realize that Cassie is a strong and resilient young woman. We come to believe that she is a survivor, and that not only will she survive intact, but she will thrive.

Fans of books such as Girl Interrupted and The Bell Jar will most certainly enjoy this well-crafted novel. This novel would work well on a unit on mental illness and young people. It would work well in a unit on families and the secrets they keep. It would work well in units on child care and child abuse. ( )
  mcintorino | Mar 14, 2017 |
Wow!! That pretty much sums up my review for The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter. I found this one at the library and just grabbed it for something to read at night before I went to bed. Little did I know that this would soon become a book that I would consider to be one of my favorites!

I found the book to be a little slow to get into at first. But, by the middle of the book I found myself eager to find out what was going to happen next. By the time I got to the last 10 chapters or so, I was so immersed, that I found myself sitting up to finish it after the rest of the world was fast asleep!! I think I held my breath pretty much during the last 6 chapters or so!

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter is a one of those books that you don't find every day. It is one of those that grabs you by the throat and makes you pay attention. I absolutely loved it and have recommended it to many of my bibliophile friends. I highly recommend it to you as well.

So check out the description and decide for yourself. But believe me, if you choose to pass on this one you will definitely be missing out!!

( )
1 vote kitchenwitch04 | Oct 24, 2016 |
The First Time She Drowned is crowned with one of the better book titles I’ve come across in recent memory. It opens with a poetically metered prologue that sets the book’s searching tone, and progressively leads the reader through a story that could have been maudlin in the hands of a lesser writer. Author Kerry Kletter deftly gives voice to eighteen year old narrator Cassie O’Malley, in language both startlingly honest and languidly circumspect. This is a modern day, relevant story of the damage exacted in dysfunctional families, where there is so much hidden agenda that the only way to the light is to unearth the source. In layered chapters of past and present, Cassie O’Malley is the bearer of the cross in a family dynamic that victimizes her, lands her against her will in a mental hospital then springs her upon her acceptance to college, where she immediately discovers she is ill prepared to meet its predictable challenges: classes, new friends, and the simple logistics of just fitting in. At the core of this story is a mother-daughter dynamic built on the shaky ground of mistrust. Cassie carries
scars like an emotional latch-key kid, wrought from the hands of a mother so self-serving and narcissistic; she thinks the emotional and
physical neglect is her own fault. It is a long road to recovery in this well-crafted tale of a search for truth, and Kletter gives us a protagonist
we desperately want to see triumph. We understand Cassie’s interior life because the author leaves nothing unattended. Kletter dives down to the bone marrow of that which shapes an inchoate psyche and leaves an imprint, then leads the way through to an ending that shines with emotional intelligence. I read this gripping book as close to non-stop as I’ve ever read anything. It is a riveting read written with such maturity, I find it hard to grasp that it is Kletter’s debut novel. Read this book, tell your friends, and stand in line with me for Kerry Kletter’s next book!



The First Time She Drowned is crowned with one of the better book titles I’ve come across in recent memory. It opens with a poetically metered prologue that sets the book’s searching tone, and progressively leads the reader through a story that could have been maudlin in the hands of a lesser writer. Author Kerry Kletter deftly gives voice to eighteen year old narrator Cassie O’Malley, in language both startlingly honest and languidly circumspect. This is a modern day, relevant story of the damage exacted in dysfunctional families, where there is so much hidden agenda that the only way to the light is to unearth the source. In layered chapters of past and present, Cassie O’Malley is the bearer of the cross in a family dynamic that victimizes her, lands her against her will in a mental hospital then springs her upon her acceptance to college, where she immediately discovers she is ill prepared to meet its predictable challenges: classes, new friends, and the simple logistics of just fitting in. At the core of this story is a mother-daughter dynamic built on the shaky ground of mistrust. Cassie carries
scars like an emotional latch-key kid, wrought from the hands of a mother so self-serving and narcissistic; she thinks the emotional and
physical neglect is her own fault. It is a long road to recovery in this well-crafted tale of a search for truth, and Kletter gives us a protagonist
we desperately want to see triumph. We understand Cassie’s interior life because the author leaves nothing unattended. Kletter dives down to the bone marrow of that which shapes an inchoate psyche and leaves an imprint, then leads the way through to an ending that shines with emotional intelligence. I read this gripping book as close to non-stop as I’ve ever read anything. It is a riveting read written with such maturity, I find it hard to grasp that it is Kletter’s debut novel. Read this book, tell your friends, and stand in line with me for Kerry Kletter’s next book! ( )
  cfullerton3 | Jul 18, 2016 |
Another damaged mother and daughter story, what was I thinking? Cassie's mother (along with her father and brother) tie her up and deliver her to a mental institution against her will. While Cassie is a difficult teenager, with good reason, the idea that her mother can accomplish doing this (by lying) is terrible. The main part of the story takes place after Cassie turns 18 and can check herself out of the facility. While she very rarely saw her family while she was in the institution, her parents pay her tuition to attend the college that her mother attended. Needless to say, this is one damaged family and it's not hard for the reader to see where the problem started. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | May 15, 2016 |
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