February 18, 2018

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The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter | SLJ Audio Review

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redstarKletter, Kerry. The First Time She Drowned. 8 CDs. 10:19 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2016. $50. ISBN 9780399567933. digital download. The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

Gr 9 Up –Eighteen-year-old Cassie is facing the world for the first time since checking herself out of the mental institution where she has spent two and a half years. She agrees to attend her mother’s alma mater and try to make a fresh start, but illness and the pressures of social engagement prove too much for her, despite the offers of help from roommate Zoey, a kindly school counselor, and charming surfer Chris. As she struggles to keep her head above water, she examines how her relationships with her self-absorbed and domineering mother, her well-intentioned but ineffectual father, and her seemingly perfect brother have molded her perception of herself. Cassie’s family abuses alcohol and drugs, and her anger erupts in occasional profanity. Kletter’s lyrical prose is beautifully performed by Jorjeana Marie. The result is an emotionally wrenching narrative of physical and mental abuse, suicide, and self-doubt that will linger with listeners long after its hopeful conclusion. VERDICT This beautifully written and performed story will appeal to adults as well as teens who enjoy realistic fiction. [“Sophisticated readers who enjoy dark realistic fiction will be satisfied by this lyrical novel”: SLJ 1/16 review of the Philomel book.]–MaryAnn Karre, Vestal, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2016 issue.