Sunday, March 2, 2014

What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

published by:  Harper
publish date:  January 7, 2014

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.

What I Had tells Olivia's story in alternating view points of the past and the present.  Presently, she has returned to her childhood home of Ocean Vista after she ran away at age 15.  After a heartbreaking divorce, she's returning with her two children, the youngest one inheriting the terrible mental disorder that plagued Olivia and her mother.  Upon arriving in Ocean Vista, Daniel has a meltdown and runs away forcing Olivia to start reliving her childhood and seeing it with the understanding of living with bipolar disorder.

When I started this book, I really didn't know it was going to be about bipolar disorder, I thought it was going to be more of a generalized coming of age story.  However, I really liked the bipolar aspect of it.  I thought it was an interesting change of pace.  It seems like Asperger's and Autism are the afflictions of choice to write about these days.  I liked that the characters weren't necessarily villified or made to seem weak by their illness.

This is an adult story, but considering the age of Olivia throughout most of the book it might appeal to some of the New Adult readers.  Particularly some of those looking to branch into some more mature reading.  What I Had Before I Had You was fantastic debut from Sarah Cornwell.

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