Title: The First Time She Drowned
Author: Kerry Kletter
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Cassie 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.
Welcome to Cover2Cover and thanks for taking the time out for a quick Q&A!
- Could you briefly describe your book for the readers?
THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED is about a girl who is committed for two and a half years to a psych ward by her mother for something she says she didn’t do. When she turns 18 she signs herself out against medical advice and attempts to start over but her estranged mother reappears in her life, throwing everything she knows about her past and herself into question.
- Can you tell me about your main character?
Cassie is tough and wounded and struggles to know how to live in the world after her release from the institution. She feels unequipped for life and uncertain about her identity and whether or not she belonged, and maybe still belongs, in a hospital.
- Could you share a favourite quote from the book? Why is it your favourite?
There’s a quote when Cassie is learning how to surf which is about more than surfing. She says, “Suddenly I don’t care that I fell because of that brief moment I stood and I wonder if this is what other people seem to have that I do not—this courage to fall because they have the memory of standing.”
I like it because I think that survivors of early trauma, like Cassie, can often feel like they have less of a foundation within themselves–that their basic sense of okay-ness has been taken from them or never developed to begin with and there’s a sense of being separate from other people. This quote is about her beginning to develop that resiliency that comes from having a different experience of herself in the world.
- Did you have difficulty with writing a particular part or writing about a particular character? If so, why?
The therapy sessions were tough just because it was so important to me to get it right.
- Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m writing an adult novel and a second YA/crossover.
I enjoyed having you on my blog today and I wish you success with your future writing!
Thank you so much for having me!
1 audiobook or hardcover US only