Parents' Guide to

The First Time She Drowned

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Beautiful, gripping story of healing after abuse.

The First Time She Drowned Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say Not yet rated
Kids say (1 ):

Heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, this powerful first novel deftly captures the depth and ripple effects of childhood abuse. The beautiful, poignant prose and the deep truths will appeal to adult readers as well as to teens. Even though the subject matter is heavy, the story never feels like too much of a downer. Cassie is a fantastic main character, who's relatable even given her dire circumstances.

Author Kerry Kletter brings to life the sad desperation of a child trying to please her unreachable mother. Her vivid writing lets us feel everything Cassie has endured, even as Cassie is uncovering and reliving her own repressed memories. She's always wanted her mother's love and approval, and it's painful to see a kid feel so unloved, especially when her mother dotes on her brother while pretending Cassie doesn't exist. When her mother comes back into the picture, Cassie is paralyzed with conflicting feelings of self-preservation and the need for her mother's love and approval. Watching her wrestle with her relationship with her mom while putting together the pieces of her past makes for a gripping and emotional read.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate