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Sarah Cornwell

What I Had Before I Had You

Sarah Cornwell What I Had Before I Had You
$10.71 New
 
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Main description:

In What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell, a woman must face the truth about her past in this luminous, evocative literary novel of parents and children, guilt and forgiveness, memory and magical thinking, set in the faded, gritty world of the New Jersey Shore.

Olivia was only fifteen the summer she left her hometown of Ocean Vista. Two decades later, on a visit with her children, her nine-year-old son Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappears. Olivia’s search for him sparks tender and painful memories of her past—of her fiercely loving and secretive mother, Myla, an erratic and beautiful psychic, and the discovery of heartbreaking secrets that shattered her world.

Review quote:

“[A] bewitching first novel. . . . In chapters alternating between the puzzling, pressurized present and eerily predictive past, Cornwell weaves the novel’s double narrative with the deft touch of a magician and the sure hand of a confident writer to watch.”

Review quote:

“[Cornwell] handles the delicate subject of mental illness and the realities of living with a mood disorder with compassion and grace. . . . [A] thoughtful and powerful debut.”

Review quote:

“An engaging debut. . . . Well-paced, with enough tension to be absorbing, What I Had Before I Had You is replete with lyrical turns of phrase and spot-on details.”

Review quote:

“An incandescent debut by turns thrilling and meditative; part coming of age novel, part exploration of the fragility and complexity of love and family. Sarah Cornwell is a writer to be celebrated and watched.”

Review quote:

“Captivating. . . . Depth of insight, dreamy prose, and an engrossing storyline mark this wonderful debut.”

Review quote:

“Cornwell’s debut is a dreamy trip to the past with one foot planted in the present. . . . This haunting tale of a childhood distorted by trauma, myth and devotion will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.”

Review quote:

“Cornwell’s debut novel is equal parts page-turner and dreamy meditation on the nature of mental illness. . . . An important exploration of the deepest philosophical inquiries into the nature of existence, family, and love. I highly recommend.”

Review quote:

“Cornwell’s first novel is an authentic and artful coming-of-age story that is uniquely multigenerational. . . . With great attention to detail and a smooth flow between past and present, this emotionally charged narrative is as memorable as it is compelling.”

Review quote:

“Gorgeously crafted, Cornwell’s tale shimmers and shimmies with nimble dialogue and poignantly flawed characters. . . . Grafting magical thinking onto gimlet-eyed acceptance, Cornwell’s debut novel enchants.”

Review quote:

“If reading literary fiction truly increases one’s emotional intelligence (as a recent study suggests), this lively debut novel by Sarah Cornwell has much to contribute. . . . The novel involves deft plot twists and last-minute revelations that add to the suspense.”

Review quote:

“Only a few writers can genuinely capture that stormy period between childhood and adulthood and Sarah Cornwell is one of them. . . . The result is an exhilarting, hurtling, unstoppable ride for the reader.”

Review quote:

“Sarah Cornwell has a brilliant eye for the telling detail, and a wonderfully original way of embodying family history. I was captivated by her memorable characters and the perfectly paced revelations of their surprising relationships.”

Review quote:

“Sarah Cornwell’s debut novel meshes past and present, mothers and child“You’re reading, you’re enthralled by the story and the characters and the Jersey Shore in the summer, and sprinkled throughout are these wonderful sentences that make you stop, simple yet resonant like the clear ping of crystal stemware.”


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