Book: The First Time She Drowned
Author: Kerry Kletter
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?-Goodreads
Review: The mother/daughter relationship is extremely complex for most of us. Add a mentally ill mother in that mix and it's a whole new ballgame. My heart absolutely broke for Cassie throughout the book. While I hated her mother with every fiber of my being, I could understand how Cassie continued to try to win her love. Just heartwrenching.
Some quotes I highlighted:
Suddenly I don’t even care that I fell, because of that brief moment when 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.
James, who insisted every day that I see my own worth beyond my mother’s rejecting eyes. But of course, a mother’s eyes are the very first mirror we look into, the image that gets imprinted on our souls—whether they gaze back at us with love or with disgust. So I don’t know how to differentiate between her perceptions of me and my own when hers were the first I’ve ever known, so deeply ingrained from the second I hit the world.
...being healthy is being able to hold and remember who people actually are instead of who we wish they were. It’s a daily struggle against a brain that tends to want to cling to fairy-tale hope, but it’s also the only way to guarantee a life surrounded by those who build rather than destroy. In the end, the loss is about letting go of what I never had in the first place.