Book Review: The Summer I Drowned

When I read the blurb and started this book, I was expecting recovering and mending friendships—what I didn’t expect was the thrilling mystery adventure I’d be taken on. A distortion of reality versus make-believe.

The past always resurfaces...

Five years after almost drowning, Olivia Cathart returns home to Caldwell Beach determined to face her fears and take some risks―not just by swimming, but by opening her heart. Hoping to rekindle her friendships, she’s excited about a carefree summer with her best friends Keely and Miles. But life in the sleepy town has changed, and no one and nothing is as it seems.

When a series of startling crimes threaten Olivia’s fragile state, she is plunged into a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Her only solace from the chaos is West, Miles’s disowned and ruggedly handsome brother, but even he can’t answer the question on everyone’s minds―is Olivia really in danger or is it simply all in her head?

Thank you to NetGalley who approved my request to read this book as well as Wattpad Books who provided a copy. Once again, I’m proud to be reading another to-be-published Wattpad book! The writing was fast paced which made me fly through this book. However, it wasn’t the best writing. There were many phrases overused and the dialogue felt like it should’ve been more original to its character. Even though it was fast paced, it took a while to reach its rising tension. Yet that what made it more thrilling as you tried to find out what Olivia’s real threat is. I enjoyed the plot of a girl returning to her childhood, only to see how everyone’s changed. The mysterious crimes taking place only makes it questionable. As if the town will blame the odd things happening on Olivia’s arrival. Olivia Cathart herself was a main character I couldn’t find myself sympathizing with all the time. At the start of the novel when she drowns and talks to her therapist, readers are shown how its made such an impact on her life. When she arrives in her old town again from New York, she becomes naive to think that everything will be the same—including the people. Being back there only triggers her PTSD into a state where she has nightmares and screams and cries. Don’t get me wrong, PTSD was well played with emotionally but at times Olivia didn’t think. She disobeyed the rules of the people she stayed at not once but many times—all for a boy! It truly didn’t sit well with me, her intentions most of the time.

Olivia's parents should’ve gone with her to support her, no matter how many times she refused. All that she faced were self-observed friends. I wouldn’t even call them friends. Her best friend, whom she stays with is the town’s drinker but her police-officer dad doesn’t know that. Her childhood best friend morphes into this stranger that we don’t know if Olivia perceived in the wrong way. Miles sister and friends (Dean and Shawn) aren’t much friends either. Yet Keely (the drinker) still chooses them over Olivia, even though Olivia is visiting her! Small town or not…you make the guest feel welcomed.

Onto West, Miles older brother and Olivia’s love interest. When I read it, I swooned over their moments of being together. Yet the more I think about it in the long run, Olivia didn’t give Miles a chance. She hooked on West and made Miles to be the bad guy. There was a huge lack of communication in this story and under-development of characters. I’m not sure what Hale tried to focus on more but something lacked.

Olivia is faced with dreams and hallucinations and soon they’re warped into the town’s crimes. This played with her PTSD where it could’ve focused more on her recovery. At the end she admitted she came too soon or should’ve come with her parents. Yet at the time, it gave that unrealistic sense when the plot twists started to rise. I won’t mention any but they seemed too unpredictable and out of the ordinary. They definitely gave a sense of thriller to the plot but I feel like Hale tried to involve too much in the story. For that she couldn’t on Olivia’s recovery to go in depth. It seemed like West was her crutch that she thought she needed all along.

This book left me with a lot of mixed reactions. The more I think about it, the more my feelings change about it. So, before I write any further, I’d like to give this book three stars out of five. Not bad for a Wattpad thriller. Not bad.

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