Book Review “The First Time She Drowned” by Kerry Kletter

Claire Fullerton’s Reviews > The First Time She Drowned

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
The First Time She Drowned
by Kerry Kletter (Goodreads Author)


Claire Fullerton‘s review

Jul 18, 2016  ·  edit
Read from July 14 to 17, 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!

3 thoughts on “Book Review “The First Time She Drowned” by Kerry Kletter

    1. Thank you, Jane! It really is a good book. I found this author through a posting on The Pat Conroy Literary Center’s page, wherein it announced that this book was the last one Conroy wrote a blurb for before he died. Intrigued, I looked it up on Amazon, read a few pages on “Look Inside,’ and bought the e-book. I am always fascinated to discover what the major publishers are signing these days, and this one is a great example. It is modern day, current subject, as in, it’s rather edgy, concerns an 18 year old, so it is YA ( but to me, it is cross-over material, due to this writer’s evolved use of language.) I also dropped a line to the author, and we went back and forth a few times. I asked how she got her agent, and she said through querying and sending the first 10 pages, which was great to hear. Thanks for commenting, Jane!


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