The First Time She Drowned

The First Time She Drowned - Kerry Kletter

This novel wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be.   It seemed like such a huge novel for the one strong message that I received from it but I enjoyed it.   I thought Cass put up with a lot of crap growing up and although her mother washed her hands of her, I don’t want to say that was a good thing but I would hate to think what might have happened had she not.   I hate to play the “what if” game and especially in these circumstances but as Cass was flashing back to her childhood, had her mother kept her under her wings what might have happened to Cass? I can only hope that Cass might have ran away and she would have lived happily ever after but who knows, all I know is what is printed in front of me in this novel.  Cass’ life sucked all around, plainly putting it, right out there for you. Later in life, it starts to turn around and Cass finds her voice.


We find Cass in a mental institution where her mother signed her in.   Cass thought at first that her parents would be back shortly but it’s been 2.5 years and she’s finally turned eighteen and ready to sign herself out. She will miss James and I will miss him too, as his humor inside the walls of this psychiatric hospital made the days go faster. His responses in group therapy had me laughing as he told about being raised as a blueberry by carrot-colored midgets or the time that he constantly was teased because he had a brightly colored red nose. This is definitely the type of individual that I would want to know inside a mental institution. They will be together again, James tells her as he plans on meeting her outside the institution walls someday.


Outside on her own, it’s the freedom Cass has always wanted but the freedom that she has never experienced and doesn’t know how to handle. Cass’ mom now has suddenly taken an interest in her life since she is released and has her admitted to her alma mater. Why this sudden interest? Cass makes her way to college, alone and with no support system. This is a dangerous situation yet Cass tries the best that she can. There are successes and there are failures for her but not the ones that typically come with the first weeks of college. If only I could reach inside the book and offer a helping hand, some words of wisdom or phone someone for her but I am helpless. Cass drowns but she surfaces to face another day and again, I want so badly to help her as she struggles in her new life.   Then she finds Zoey, I thought at first wow, of all people she meets and she meets Zoey. But there is something about Zoey, she’s real, she creates these moments that I wanted to scream “yes! That it!” At first Cass doesn’t know what to think about Zoey and I am glad she felt the same way I did, but later she gave Zoey a chance. Between the moments that Cass is at college and the moments she is flashing back to her childhood, I see the big picture.   She is a product, a product of her upbringing. We all are but Cass finally sees it and she’s ready for the next step. I really enjoyed the ending and I won’t spoil it but telling you why but I feel that some readers might not enjoy it.