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Olivia Reed was fifteen when she left her hometown of Ocean Vista on the Jersey Shore. Two decades later, divorced and unstrung, she returns with her teenage daughter, Carrie, and nine-year-old son, Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Distracted by thoughts of the past, Olivia fails to notice when Daniel disappears from her side. Her frantic search for him sparks memories of the summer of 1987, when she exploded out of the cocoon of her mother's fierce, smothering love and into a sudden, full-throttle adolescence, complete with dangerous new friends, first love, and a rebellion so intense that it utterly recharted the course of her life.
Olivia's mother, Myla, was a practicing psychic whose powers waxed and waned along with her mercurial moods. Myla raised Olivia to be a guarded child, and also to believe in the ever-present infant ghosts of her twin sisters, whom Myla took care of as if they were alive - diapers, baby food, an empty nursery kept like a shrine. At fifteen, Olivia saw her sisters for the first time, not as ghostly infants but as teenagers on the beach. But when Myla denied her vision, Olivia set out to learn the truth - a journey that led to shattering discoveries about herself and her family.
Sarah Cornwell seamlessly weaves together the past and the present in this riveting debut novel, as she examines the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the powerful forces of loss, family history, and magical thinking.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Coolbreeze on 05-07-16
What made the experience of listening to What I Had Before I Had You the most enjoyable?
Narrator was wonderful, loved when she did the kids voices. Loved the unraveling of family secrets.
What was one of the most memorable moments of What I Had Before I Had You?
Most memorable moment was realizing what the "true" family dynamic/secret was.
Which character – as performed by Karen White – was your favorite?
Any additional comments?
Really enjoyed this book. Demonstrates that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even for those with a miserable childhood where they feel isolated.