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The Summer I Drowned

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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?

336 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2020

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About the author

Taylor Hale

1 book109 followers
Taylor Hale was born in Southwestern Ontario in 1994, eventually finding her way to the Wattpad fiction app in 2015, where she has since amassed over twenty-four thousand followers and six million views. Her debut novel, THE SUMMER I DROWNED, a YA romantic thriller, was published in North America and sold to Penguin Random House in the UK in 2020. It has since been named one of the Ontario Library Association’s top ten YA reads of 2020.

Follow her on Twitter @taylorhwrites or Instagram @taylorrhale

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5 stars
128 (28%)
4 stars
154 (34%)
3 stars
111 (25%)
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40 (9%)
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11 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
757 reviews2,303 followers
April 20, 2020
I was born here. I almost died here. And in coming back, everything has change.


The Summer I Drowned may be sold and disguised as a YA thriller with a side of romance, but it's sure more than that.
It's a book about how ptsd changes your life and gets in the way of your relationship with friends and family.
Olivia isn't the best of characters, but I can tell she sounded almost too real to be just a fictional person. She was good, pretty and easily relatable, but at the same time her flaws made her less invincible and approachable.
One thing I found incredibly true, was the way she dealt with people because of her ptsd and anxiety. How she used her condition to act reckless, whiny, inconsiderate if other people's feelings and righteous in her judgments, and then realized how it was ruining her interactions with those around her so she decided to act upon it and do something instead of just self-pitying herself or blame others for her actions.
The thriller factor is vaguely present in the first 40% and it doesn't have much impact later on, either, but it's got all the element to be considered part of the genre.
And sure, the culprit and motivations are pretty predictable (and kind of lame), and there's also a lot of drama and (a little too much) romance, but Taylor Hale's intense writing character analysis enhance a mystery vibe that'd be too weak otherwise.

I overall liked this book and I'm glad with the way it ended. I especially liked how I went from not standing Olivia, Keely and all their friends to being proud of the way they'd grown and acknowledged their faults, and I also really appreciated the author's ability in creating the right atmosphere.
Oh! And I totally can't believe this book is 1) a debut novel that 2) finds its birth as a Wattpad story.
I really should stop judging books by their origins.
Taylor Hale, keep slaying.

edit: I decided to round this up to 4 stars because, even though I wasn't particularly impressed by the story, I think the author did a pretty good job for a debut and she deserves more visibility.

DRC requested on and provided by NetGalley


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Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,304 reviews220 followers
February 21, 2020
***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE SUMMER I DROWNED by Taylor Hale in exchange for my honest review.***


Five years after Olivia almost drowned from risk taking behavior, she returns to see her old friends and face her fears only to encounter a series of crimes in her old home town.

The blurb is the best part of THE SUMMER I DROWNED. I had heard about Taylor Hale’s debut novel before finding it available on NetGalley and was excited to be approved for the ARC.

Olivia was a likable enough protagonist, although I didn’t feel invested in her story. Her mental health issues were portrayed well, except for the manifestation of hallucinations, which was more Hollywood than reality. I couldn’t see what she saw in any of her selfish friends, with the exception of West, who I hope wouldn’t turn out to be the bad guy.

The writing was the weakest part of THE SUMMER I DROWNED. Hale’s overuse of adjectives made the prose feel overwritten and clunky. The dialogue didn’t feel like people talking to each other. I didn’t feel much tension in the writing and because I didn’t care about most of the characters, I couldn’t get invested into the story.

Back to the mental health portrayal. Hallucinations result from the brain’s misinterpretation of signals, chemicals or transmitters. They are created in the brain by the brain and often loosely connected to real sensory experiences or people. A patient who’s never seen an antelope or a picture of one can’t hallucinate one, because he doesn’t that knowledge in his brain to create the image. He won’t hear voices in Russian if he can’t speak or understand Russian. Hallucinations are much less interesting than fiction writers would lead us to believe.

I wouldn’t recommend THE SUMMER I DROWNED.
Profile Image for Rachel Finney.
154 reviews45 followers
March 4, 2020
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. The first 50% of this book was so promising, but I feel like the writing and plot took a huge nosedive at some point. I couldn't even read the last fifteen. I ONLY HAD FIFTEEN PAGES LEFT AND I COULDN'T DO IT.

I found the protagonist to be exhausting and extremely weak, and I couldn't understand why she had two guys fighting over her. SHE HAD NO PERSONALITY. She spent the entire book crying, screaming or fighting with people without a single redeeming moment. Coming from someone who has suffered with hyper-vigilance and PTSD, there is no excuse for being a shitty friend and she NEVER tried to grow unless it was for a guy.

Also, I honestly felt bad for West because he was so likable and independent at the beginning and then he became this human prop for Olivia halfway through the book. WHY.

Overall, this read like fan-fiction or a CW show. If you like teen-dramas like Riverdale or angsty high school books then I say go for it, I get it. I just wouldn't recommend this for character development or accurate depictions of PTSD.
Profile Image for Pome_garnet .
9 reviews45 followers
June 5, 2020
*"When a summer of fun turns upside down,Olivia must figure out her paranoid imagination is playing tricks on her or she's being followed and by who"*

Well I guess I'm among the lucky few who read this in wattpad before it became a paid story.The story is kinda gripping from the beginning and won't let you keep it away even for a moment.This story revolves around a female protagonist "Olivia" who deals mental illness and sleep paralysis.This is a heart throbbing journey of her finding the truth behind who is after her.This work consists of suspicious characters which will make you think and think about what will happen next until the extreme end.
September 11, 2022
Wow. I wish I hadn't let this book sit on my shelf for so long. Great story, great action, great writing. A solid 4 stars. It felt overly dramatic, like too much was happening and that was the only thing that majorly bugged me. I really enjoyed how the author was able to make me feel like I was there, watching from the sidelines, as if it were a movie. I'm excited to see other work by this author.
Profile Image for Jenny (Bookbookowl).
559 reviews232 followers
March 28, 2020
Thank you so much to Wattpad Books for providing me with a copy of the Summer I Drowned, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review!

It's been five years since Olivia left her home town, where she almost drowned.  Five years of therapy and the hope that returning to the place it happened might give her some closure. But when she arrives, her childhood friends seem to have changed so much more than she imagined, and she's worried she might have made a mistake. One of her best friends is drinking heavily, another is acting strangely and she feels as though she doesn't really know them anymore.  As she tries to fit back in to her friendship circle, she finds herself drawn toward West, her old friend's brother.  The one who never said goodbye when she left the first time.

Olivia thought facing the water would be her biggest fear, but there might be an even larger threat than she anticipated.

This YA mystery was thrilling and a perfect book to escape to while my mind was having trouble focusing on fantasy books.  There were some brilliant twists and Olivia's struggles with PTSD and anxiety were realistically described.  I found myself so undecided about who to trust the whole way through and I absolutely did not guess the ending!  

If you're looking for an easy to read thriller that will keep you guessing, I'd recommend adding The Summer I Drowned to your TBR!
Profile Image for Louise Scholl.
140 reviews
April 4, 2020
What an awesome book! The story was great. The ending was shocking. The characters were terrific. A must read.
Profile Image for Lindsey  Domokur.
1,313 reviews97 followers
July 7, 2020
The Summer I Drowned was a book about childhood friends and coming back to face your fears. Olivia leaves her hometown after she almost drowns and is traumatized and has PTSD. Five hears later she comes back to face her fear of the water and connect with friends. While staying with her friend Keely and her police chief dad, things start to happen and she isn't sure if they are real or imagined.

Her best friend from childhood, Miles, the boy everyone thought she would marry, is so excited to have her back. He still has feelings for her, but Olivia is all about his brother West. West is the black sheep of the family, but has always had a secret crush on Olivia, even as kids. It was a bit of a love triangle and things get a little heated, but it is clear who Olivia wants to be with.

I expected more of a thriller and the writing was pretty choppy, but I suspect it might have something to do with being on Wattpad. The story had a lot of potential, and I didn't see the twist coming at the end, but it still fell a little flat for me. I would be interested in reading more from this author later because I think there is definitely something there.
Profile Image for Virginia Winfield.
2,536 reviews6 followers
July 14, 2020
I did not want to put this book down. I needed to find out who was killing animals in this small resort town near New York and who was after Olivia years after she had moved away and then come back to try to work through what had happened to her 5 years before. No one seems the same. Everyone seems to have changed over the years. There are many twists and turns throughout. I received a copy of this book from Wattpad books for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Profile Image for Shannon Rochester.
865 reviews72 followers
May 2, 2020
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for my digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I originally requested this book because I absolutely love the cover. I was really looking forward to it as it got closer and closer in my queue but I am sad to say that in this particular case, I was wrong when I judged a book by it's cover. Sometimes I hit my target and sometimes I miss. When I first checked out the reviews, I was shocked to see that so many people loved it...maybe it was just me. But I always look for similarities in the reviews when I am reading a book that I don't seem to like. Just now when I looked, it was not as skewed and some other people seem to agree with me. But almost from the very beginning, I could not get into this book. I absolutely despised the main character and that is never a good thing. She would not allow me to enjoy anything else about the book. I am pretty sure I didn't like any of the characters, now that I come to think about it. From the people who were her supposed best friends to her newfound yet always had a crush on love. Every single person in this book pissed me off, I think. :)
Profile Image for Ixxati.
282 reviews16 followers
April 19, 2020
This book was a combination of thriller and romance. I don't feel the thrilled until the last parts. I didn't expect the twist. I mean.. I found out who is the bad guy when the accident happened.
Btw I feel bad for Miles phewww~ Olive didn't give him chance and what she thought about him make me don't like him. Damn!

Thank you Netgalley, publisher and author for The Summer I Drowned ARC!

Profile Image for Katelyn White Fiesta.
32 reviews18 followers
February 21, 2020
This story was incredibly well written. Writing crossover genres is difficult, especially when attempting to balance three in one. But with THE SUMMER I DROWNED, debut author Taylor Hale has brought readers a new kind of young adult to devour. One that bridges the gap between mystery, thriller, and a swoon worthy romance all wrapped into one. Reluctant readers who may be afraid to dip their toes into the waters of a genre outside of romance will find themselves wanting to figure out the mystery Hale has written into TSID, while also falling for West, AND trying to understand if Olivia's thoughts are really what she believes them to be. And since we are at this part of my review, I thought I would mention that I found the mental health aspect of this story very well researched and thorough. Instead of feeling like a plot device, the author has clearly spent time researching PTSD and other mental illnesses to bring a very well rounded character in Olivia to the table.
THE SUMMER I DROWNED is a serious job well done. Of all the books launched with Wattpad Books thus far, I found this to be the most researched, correct, and plot-wise--it's the best. If I didn't know that this was a debut novel, I would never have guessed it. Taylor Hale has layered so many genres so brilliantly, I'm in awe with what she's given us for her first published piece.
Profile Image for Tay Marley.
Author 5 books274 followers
April 12, 2020
Okay I LOVED this book ! I’ve been a fan of Taylor’s since I read her book, Street Girl, on Wattpad. Her writing style is so serene and flows so well and it doesn’t matter what the book is, if she wrote it, I’m addicted. Her descriptions are mesmerising and her characters are relatable. She’s so talented !

Personally, I’m a fan of both romance and thriller, and to me, this book had the best combination of both! I thought it was so well done and absolutely perfect for someone like myself who appreciates reading both genres. Also, the mental health aspect was so well depicted in this book. Liv was so far from perfect and that’s what I loved about her. Her struggles made her difficult to be around at times and it was very authentic because you remember that there’s a reason for her standoffish behaviour. She’s got so much trauma and that makes her guarded and untrusting and I think the way that mental health can effect our faith in people was shown well here. I really loved her strength and ability to tell it like it is. She had a voice, even when she was scared.

Overall, I just loved this book. I read it just two days. It was brilliant and I can’t wait for more of her stories.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,102 reviews81 followers
April 3, 2020
I received this ARC free in exchange for my honest review.

I had a hard time putting The Summer I Drowned down. The pacing is very well done and while the characters are your standard YA tropes, the thrills kept me awake jumping at every creak and sigh. Y'all know it's not very many books that will do that to me anymore.

The book handles mental health issues sensitively without being brash. I don't think it necessarily needs a trigger warning for that but there is some brutality and gore.

Many (most?) thrillers suffer from bad endings and while this one wasn't stellar or anything, the ending is rational and satisfying. The story fell apart a little bit between 60 and 80% where it got a bit stagnant and seemed to lose itself. There's an alleged hallucination scene that didn't read very true to me and confused the plot a little. After that brief interval it pulls itself back together and ends fine.

All in all, a pretty fantastic YA thriller. I gave it 4 stars. An excellent debut.
Profile Image for Cielo.
74 reviews47 followers
April 13, 2020
First of all, thank you so much to Wattpad Books for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I have read an earlier version of this book before, back when it was titled “Sea Glass”. I have to say the new title fits the story and it’s vibe better than the old one, and so the reader can know a little bit more of what to expect from the book.

The descriptions are really good, and inmersive. But when it came to dialogue, I think it could been better developed, with more length and depth to them. The pacing is good, something is always happening to get the story moving, but taking its time to develop Olivia’s character specially. The author does a great job at introducing us to Caldwell Beach and even when I don’t know if the place exists, it surely felt real. The author’s descriptions of the place are very realistic, and the setting really contributes to the story and the mysterious vibe of it.

Olivia’s point of view was very realistic and you could easily relate to her thoughts, fears and desires. I think the author handled her PTSD very well, knowing exactly what she was writing about and treating the subject with respect and tact, as it plays a big role in the story.

About the characters, I’d wished their backgrounds could’ve been more developed, specially those that didn’t play a main role, because at times they seemed a little bit shallow. Those I liked the most were Olivia, West, Keely and Faye –because even if she plays “the bad girl”, we get to understand her. I really liked the friendship between Olivia and Keely, because it seemed pretty genuine and you can easily relate to it, as it’s flawed and it has ups and downs.

While the conflicts between all the teenagers sometimes lacked depth and felt kind of silly, I understand the author was trying to potray what a teen’s life actually looks like –at I think she did a great job at it. She didn’t need to exaggerate the events to create more drama, or make them have a more adult mindset to improve the story. The heart of this book lays in the innocence, recklessness, mistakes and flaws of its characters.

I really enjoyed reading the romance between West and Olivia –it was everything a first love kind of story should be. They had great chemistry and I loved the moments between them. But what I loved the most is that the author knew how to balance the romance without it being too little neither too much, as it’s not the main point of the story.

Miles needs to have a special mention in this review. What the author did with his character left me speechless. You don’t see that kind of twist in books, and it put things into perspective about everything I thought I knew about these characters. It was a very original, unique wake up call both for Olivia and the readers. This is a book about healing, but it’s also about rethinking everything you think you’re so certain of. It kept me turning pages non stop and left me speechless at the end. Great job, Taylor!
Profile Image for Sarah.
183 reviews19 followers
March 28, 2020
Read this and other young adult book reviews at www.readersandteachers.com!

4/5 Stars

Before we get started, I just wanted to say thank you to Netgalley, Taylor Hale, and Wattpad Books for the ARC (advance reader copy)! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

Trigger Warnings
At the beginning of the book, there’s a trigger warning. I wanted to go over that first to, well, warn you of possible triggers within the book. Possible triggers include “death, drowning, PTSD, suicidal ideation, paranoia, mental illness, emotionally and physically abusive relationships, and violence toward animals” (Authors Note in The Summer I Drowned).

To be blunt and honest, after reading the warning list… I probably should not have read this book. I have PTSD and brushes with suicidal ideation, as well as experience with abusive relationships and mental illness.

However, it wasn’t that bad. My PTSD is moderate. It’s been two years after the traumatic event and my symptoms have gotten loads better. However, some scenes hit home because I know what Olivia was going through.

I cried during one point of the book because it was too relatable. She has a mantra that helps her through, which was the exact same mantra that I used at the beginning. “If I’m breathing, I’m alive.” I cried because I still say that to myself when I’m having panic attacks.

In a weird way, I needed to read this because I have PTSD. So, if you feel like you’d be triggered by the events of this book, just take it slow and listen to yourself. You’re in control and you can put it down at any time.

Story Elements
Taylor Hale did an amazing job with writing this book. It was well written, well structured, and checked all of the boxes when it comes to what a novel a novel needs.

The plot was twisted and unpredictable, sort of. The ending was kind of a given, but the subplots were out of left field. The setting was well described; I felt like I was on the beach with Olivia as she conquered her fears.

Favorites & Dislikes
I think my favorite part of this book was the action. There wasn’t a lot of downtime. Most chapters ended in mini-cliffhangers, which means that I spent a lot of nights reading when I should’ve been sleeping.

Another thing I really liked was how time passes realistically, especially at the beginning. Olivia visits her childhood home after living in New York for five years, so returning was awkward. She tried to fit in with her old friends and it didn’t work out too well. Summers away from home always pass slowly and Hale did a great job at conveying that time lapse.

My least favorite part was how she treated her childhood best friend. I don’t want to get into much detail because spoilers and all, but I feel like the plot didn’t need that. The treatment of this specific character, in my opinion, was unwarranted and just made excess drama that the story didn’t need.

In one of Taylor Hale’s tweets, she describes The Summer I Drowned as a “beach read.” I wouldn’t consider this a beach read, but it is quick and easy. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller with some light romance, this could be for you.

I rated it 4/5 stars because I felt that the plot had too much going on at some points, but it was a really good book.

The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale will be released on May 26, 2020 by Wattpad Books. I had a hard time finding a web presence for Taylor Hale, but I found her Twitter and Wattpad page, if you’d like to keep tabs on her!
Profile Image for Bookworm86 .
1,406 reviews114 followers
May 22, 2020
Review for 'The Summer I Drowned ' by Taylor Hale

Read and reviewed via NetGalley for WattPad books and Penguin publishers.

Preorder this book ready for release on the 23rd July.

This is the first book that I have read by this author. I would happily read more books by this author.

I always read the reviews of books just before I'm about to read them just to gage other people's interests. I have now decided this is a bad idea. After I read a few negative reviews on this book I was actually not looking forward to reading it, although the cover looked good and the blurb interesting. Well, lesson learned, don't read too much into other people's reviews as I actually really enjoyed reading this.

I enjoyed this book from the start which sucked me in right until the ending that I was very happy with, even though a few others mentioned it going downhill at 50%...nope, if anything it picked up a bit more.

This book was very well written and the characters were strong and realistic. The descriptions were good and it made me feel like I was 'in' the storyline, along with the first person narrative.

THE book was filled with suspense, secrets, romance and action and I would recommend to any fans of these. The book is advertised for young adults but I feel adults would also enjoy it, as a 33 year old I did anyway.

The only faults I could find were the fact that I wasn't surprised to find out what/who was causing the goings on in town and I also found one of the incidents a bit over the top. I have written it like thayt as not to give too much away but hopefully readers will know what I mean after the fact. For these reasons I am rating the book 4/5 stars rather than 5/5.

Trigger subjects including, but not limited to: death, drowning, PTSD, suicidal ideation, paranoia, mental illness, emotionally and physically abusive relationships, and violence toward animals.

I would recommend this book to fans of young adult fiction, thrillers, suspense, mystery, romance thrillers and crime.

336 pages

£1.99 to purchase on kindle. I think this is a bargain for this book.

Rated 4/5 (I enjoyed it ) on Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon UK and Amazon.Com and on over 30 Facebook pages plus my blog on Facebook.

Feel free to add me on Goodreads for more reviews

#TheSummerIDrowned #TaylorHale #WattPadBooks #NetGalley #BookReview
@TaylorHale @WattPadBooks
Profile Image for Lindsay.
586 reviews
March 8, 2020
The summary is misleading since it makes you think this is thriller and mystery. What this book really is is drama and romance mixed with a degree of mental health. If the summary hadn't set this up to be intense and suspenseful then it wouldn't have been a letdown.

Olivia suffers from PTSD from almost drowning as a 12 year old. Her parents whisk her away to New York City where she's lived for 5 years until she decides to venture back to Maine to get over her fear of water. You would think the story would focus on Olivia conquering her fears, but instead that portion takes up so little of the story. The main chunk of this terribly long book is filled with Olivia's horrible friends, partying, and lots of romance drama.

Olivia's best friends Keeley and Miles were awful. Self-centered, self-absorbed, narcissistic, cruel, and uncaring. Faye, Dean, and Shawn were the same. Keely is the town drunk and crier. Her father is the tiny town's chief of police (he's in charge of a two team task force) and both him and Keeley's mother deserve 'worst parents of the year' awards. They have no idea that their daughter is the town drunk and sneaks out of the house every night to party and out drink everyone in sight. Despite the "state of the art security system", the parents are in the dark about their daughter who is definitely going places. Straight to the graveyard. Even upon grounding her for sneaking out to party (and almost dying since she had alcohol poisoning and had to be rushed to the ER to get her stomach pumped), Keeley sneaks out again the following night to meet up with her boyfriend and guzzle alcohol (she told Olivia that Shawn is the one for her because he only dates girls for 1 week and they've been together for 2), and her mother rewards her with a shopping spree.

Despite much emphasis on Faye living and breathing ballet, she spent all her time partying, drinking, and hanging out with her boyfriend. Miles spent the story brooding and angry that Olivia chose West over him. West didn't possess any admiring qualities. He was flat. Olivia had no personality and was also flat. She may have been written that way because PTSD can cause the absent of emotions. The PTSD aspect was written better than other books I've read, but it still wasn't accurate, especially since Olivia uses West has her crutch to heal.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,553 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2020
The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale is a young adult book that I really enjoy. Olivia returned to Caldwell Beach five years after she almost drown. After years of therapy, Olivia wants to face her fears. Olivia doesn't know what real and what is not. Someone in town is mutilating animals, and they might be after her. This book kept me reading from the minute I started it. I will be reading more books by this author. I really liked this book, and highly recommend it, if you enjoy young adult thrillers. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for ella.
41 reviews
April 22, 2022
hated this. olivia was boring. her friends all sucked. the love interest was not compelling whatsoever. the writing would be mediocre if it wasn’t for the terrible dialogue, which felt unrealistic and awkward. the plot could’ve been a really great thriller/mystery but i just couldn’t feel compelled to engage with it at all as every other part of this book was either boring or unlikeable.
Profile Image for CW Knight.
60 reviews9 followers
August 9, 2020
My second Wattpad book, and boy, it was a much better experience than the first. The Summer I Drowned, once known as Sea Glass in its original form, is a debut novel by Taylor Hale / solacing (her username) from Wattpad by Wattpad Books. It is a mixture tale of a girl returning to her home to face her ptsd-inducing past, flames of a childhood crush igniting, and a mystery/thriller that always has an edge of disbelief due to Olivia -- the mc’s -- ptsd-induced hallucinations.

I’m going to start with the negatives. This is on the lower end of a three star for me, not because it was particularly bad, as much as because there were often times I felt myself wanting more. Sometimes the writing really felt like it was holding back in a way I don’t quite know how to explain. Scenes I felt could really use extra impact never gave that extra oomph. Also, at times, the writing felt a bit skeletal.

I noticed a few mistakes I don’t feel I would see in most published books, but I’m fully blaming that on Wattpad Books’ editing team.

The characters were mostly good, but there were times Olivia felt a lot like a spectator (intentional, I’m pretty sure, but could make the scene harder to attach to), and I really didn’t buy the relationship early on. I liked the love interest more later on than early, which made me not really ship it until after the relationship started. Other characters were mostly okay, but maybe felt like they could have a little more “oomph” to their fleshing out. Especially the antagonist. I won’t say that it doesn’t make sense, but it just felt… lacking?

I think that’s my biggest complaint about the book. Overall, it is really good. But having more oomph in certain aspects would have made it even better.

All that said, it is a very enjoyable book! I saw some people making complaints that I actually thought made it very enjoyable. There are definitely different aspects of the plot. You had the romance, you had the mystery, and you had the girl trying to recover and overcome a traumatic experience by going back to her hometown and reconnecting with friends and stuff. Each aspect was pretty interesting to read.

Even if it took me a while, I shipped the romance.

I really wanted to know who was killing animals and doing some other things I won’t spoil.

And Olivia… I wanted to see her heal. I wanted to see her figure out her old life and how it worked with her current one. I was invested in her arc and how the other two aspects were interwoven with it.

The more clinical/simple writing made the book an easy read, even if I felt it held back the narrative at times.

It is probably the first book I’ve read that would classify as YA Contemporary, even if it also has Mystery/Thriller after that, and I enjoyed it. Usually when I try to read books like that, I step away, but because it had so many aspects outside of just romance, I stayed intrigued.

The relations also felt real, which was a big bonus because I enjoyed the friendship between Olivia and Keeley, the friend she stays with over the summer.

Also, I can’t get too much into it, but the unreliable narrator created through Olivia’s PoV was very intriguing. It was hard to know what was illusion and what was not. I do believe I have seen unreliable narrator done better, but it still added a very intriguing element to the mystery/thriller aspect.

Overall, a really solid start for Taylor. Would I suggest getting this book and reading it yourself? Yes. Do I think I’ll ever reread it though? Doubtful. So three stars.
Profile Image for Julie (Bookish.Intoxication).
778 reviews32 followers
September 24, 2020
Wow, this book was intense from the first page, to the last. There isn't a moment or word wasted, everything adds up to something, it is all important.

I love the representation within this book, of mental health, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, ageism and stereotypes. There is something that everyone can relate to within the pages.

Olivia is such a unique character, her struggles are heart-wrenching, but it is so incredible to see her find herself, to see how she battles against her mind and slowly come out the other side.

West, don't even get me started on West, he is exactly what this book needed. He is gentle and soft, but also a typical boy filled with testosterone and anger from childhood. But he is what ties this book together.

Well written, engaging and fast paced, this YA thriller is a gem.
Profile Image for Tamara.
1,048 reviews
April 20, 2021
*I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

I'm giving this book 2 stars simply because it wasn't the worst book I've read in my life. But I didn't like it, and the only reason I finished it was because I wanted to follow through in providing my promised review.

I can't think of a single character in this entire book that I actually liked. Olivia and all of her "friends" were selfish, reckless morons. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of them. Olivia's and Keely's parents were okay, and I sympathize more with them than I do with any of the other characters, but they still weren't my favorite people.

The last 20% of the book was better than the rest of it because it actually felt more like a thriller rather than a book about teens spending their summer being as stupid as they could be, all in the name of fun. I still wasn't a fan, though.

I suspect there were parts I was supposed to swoon over, but I just couldn't bring myself to. Honestly, I found it rather creepy when West suggested he could be Olivia's "first everything" after he found out he was her first crush and first kiss. If that wasn't a line intended to get her in bed with him, I don't know what was. I'm sure I was supposed to cheer for them, and I admit that I liked him sometimes. But his anger management issues really made me uncomfortable and should have been a huge red flag for Olivia (I'm sure her parents would agree if they knew).

As if that weren't enough, I quickly lost count of how many f words were in this book. It wouldn't surprise me if it contained more than Lone Survivor (and at least I can understand the use in that book). Huge turnoff to me.

How it ends:

Note: Swearing. So many f words I lost count at the beginning of the book. Stupid teens making stupid choices. One vague, fade-to-black sex scene. Lots of teen drinking.
Profile Image for Caitlin Simmons.
18 reviews
April 26, 2022
3!! ~ I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character.. But, I loved the friend group living in a beach town concept. I really enjoyed the twists at the end!
Profile Image for Willow.
359 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2020
**i had the awesome(!!) opportunity to read an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

The Summer I Drowned is about 17 year old Olivia who, several years after nearly drowning, decides to return to her hometown where it happened to get over her fear of the ocean. However, the friends she had before the fall have changed, and so has she. Faced with recurring nightmares about the summer she drowned, and disturbing happenings in the place she once called home, Olivia struggles to differentiate between what is the real and what's imagined.
Taylor Hale's debut novel is important because of the recognition it brings to mental illness. Not only are her character's flawed, but they're real. The main character, Olivia struggles with PTSD, and readers witness first hand as she copes with her very real, very scary disorder. Though Olivia's impulsive and unforgiving attitude is incredibly frustrating, she also has a strong sense of morality, and determination. Her decision to overcome a fear that has been holding her back from living for far too long is admiral.
Profile Image for Raathi Chota.
Author 5 books89 followers
April 14, 2020
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 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 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 the main character I couldn’t sympathize with all the time. At the start of the novel when she drowns and talks to her therapist, it shows readers how it's made such an impact on her life. When she arrives in her old town again from New York, she becomes naïve to think 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. PTSD was well played with emotionally but 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 morphs into this stranger we don’t know if Olivia perceived in the wrong way. Miles's sister and friends (Dean and Shawn) aren’t many 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's 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 the under-development of characters. I’m not sure what Hale tried to focus on more but something lacked.

Olivia faces 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. She admitted she came too soon or should’ve come with her parents. Yet it gave that unrealistic sense when the plot twists rose. I won’t mention any but they seemed too unpredictable and out of the ordinary. They definitely gave a sense of thrilled 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 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.
Profile Image for Alison Morquecho.
487 reviews22 followers
August 17, 2020
When I first saw this book, I loved the cover. It caught my attention right away. After reading the synopsis I knew that I had to request it.

We follow Olivia as she struggles with her PTSD from falling off a cliff into an ocean when she was 12. She almost died. After her fall, she and her family moved to NY to get away from Cadwell Beach and where she fell. Since being away she has dealt with a lot of trauma but sees a psychiatrist every week to help her. She has her moments of panic but she can usually talk herself down.

Olivia feels like she is healed enough to go back to the town she drowned and get over her fear. She gets to stay with her best friend. Before going back to Caldwell Beach strange things have started happening in the town, but she doesn’t pay it much mind. Once she gets there though she realized she may not be ready. On top of dealing with the anxiety of being around the ocean, it seems like someone is out to get her, Her best friend is not who she thought he was, and old feelings start to show themselves.

For me, this book started well, but some of the events within the book seemed out of place. I also got annoyed with the main character a lot. Some of her dialogue just ruined her character. Towards the middle and onto the end I just wanted to get the book read. I was interested in it enough to finish it, but this book wasn’t for me. It had some good reviews, so if you like this kind of book, I would give it a try. There are a lot of other people that seemed to love it.
Profile Image for c..
130 reviews11 followers
May 5, 2020
***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE SUMMER I DROWNED by Taylor Hale in exchange for my honest review.***

This book was unexpectedly bad.
The synopsis sounded great, intriguing, even fun, but this book did not do it for me.

First of all, I would like to say that I really appreciated the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book.

I can honestly see why many people liked this book, and it does not surprise me at all that it became popular on Wattpad. In fact, it is basically a fan fiction, but written a little better and with a darker story.
Going into this, I did not have high expectations, as I am quite familiar with the content that we can find on Wattpad. The beginning made me even think that it could be a good book, a gem that I could recommend to all my friends, but my thoughts were soon proven wrong.
Besides the mental health representation, which I am not going to touch on because I have not experienced PTSD nor do I know anyone who has, I found the story extremely unrealistic and at times annoying.

The protagonist, in pure fan fiction fashion, narrated the story and had no personality. It shocks me how somehow she had two handsome boys, who are brothers, fight over her. All of the other characters were quite 2D, they basically had only one character trait. But this book was not bad up until the middle of it. It was almost enjoyable, a light read with the spiciness of a mystery to solve.
And then things started going south, as the plot became unbelievable and some scenes felt repetitive.

Without making any spoilers, it is hard to explain what actually goes down and what made me cringe and almost not want to continue reading this book.

Despite all of this, The Summer I Drowned was not horrible and might be enjoyable to some people. Perhaps I would have liked it if I had not been an avid reader of both classics and thrillers, which of course cannot compare to this debut novel. I think that more "unexperienced" readers might really enjoy this book, especially if they are into fan fictions and would like to transition to more "adult" books.

Having said that, I recommend this book to who does not read a lot and wants to dip a toe into literature, as the story is gripping yet quite not up to standards of a real thriller.
Profile Image for Kristin.
392 reviews10 followers
July 8, 2020
ORIGINAL POST: http://www.nerdprobs.com/books/book-r...

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

I had never read a book by Taylor Hale before, but just from the description I knew I was going to like this book. I’m so glad The Summer I Drowned did not disappoint.

This story had a really unique storyline. While the main story followed Olivia and her coming back to her hometown to face a fear instilled in her years before from a tragic accident, there were so many layers to it. I love how Hale was able to incorporate in stories of friendship and how friends can stay the same even when people grow apart. This book talks a lot about PTSD, which is not something you read too often, especially when it comes to teenagers. I think Hale did a great job really getting that feeling of panic and paranoia and anxiety that Olivia was feeling to hit the reader. I felt for Olivia.

The story had me feeling creeped out, which is not easy to do as mystery and thrillers are my favorite genre. Olivia’s paranoia was my paranoia and I was suspect of every last person. What I will say is the side characters really added a good support to this story. Learning all of Olivia’s old childhood friends helped shape her as a character and fill in the back story of her as al little girl and her now. That dynamic really added something.

Overall I loved The Summer I Drowned. The story line was unique and not one I’d read before or even come close to. The story flowed smooth with little flashbacks to fill in gaps in the storyline and helped me understand the main character more. West was hands down my favorite. Hale really took advantage of that “creep factor” and gave us a gut punch of an ending. I didn’t see it coming. Such a great book. Highly recommended for all!
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