FICTION

The Summer I Drowned

Wattpad. Jul. 2020. 336p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781989365182.
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Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Olivia Cathart (described as having pale skin, dark brown hair, and blue eyes) returns to her hometown in Caldwell Beach, ME, for the summer. Olivia moved because of a horrific swimming accident when she was just 12. Now she has hopes of conquering her fears of water and reconnecting with her childhood friends Keely (described as having copper skin and curly hair), black-haired West, and blond Miles. However, an animal killer is on the loose in Caldwell, leaving the bodies of skinned animals in unsuspecting places in town. When Olivia arrives in her hometown, she feels herself being taunted by the animal killer. A series of events cause her to second-guess her own experiences and those she thought she knew. Hale’s novel focuses heavily on Olivia’s fears, which are heightened in conjunction with her PTSD from the accident. Olivia has episodes that cause her to have breaks in her reality, thus confusing her. Readers may also feel confusion regarding Olivia’s reliability as she details events. It becomes unclear who to trust because Olivia’s perception and interpretation of situations and her friends are skewed. Hale’s novel also explores a budding romance between Olivia and West. This relationship tests Olivia’s friendship with Miles and Keely. It is also the catalyst for secrets to be revealed and division among family and friends.
VERDICT A thrilling mystery that touches on topics such as PTSD, domestic abuse, and consent.

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