Written in radiant prose and with stunning psychological
acuity, award-winning author Sarah Cornwell’s What I Had Before I Had You
is a deeply poignant story that captures the joys and sorrows of growing up and
learning to let go.
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 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. Download and start listening now!