[ARC Book Review] The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale

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?” – Goodreads

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!


Hi, everyone! I have worked in the field of education since I was nineteen and have a passion for literature. I have five years of experience as a library media specialist (paraprofessional), 2 years as a substitute teacher, and I am currently a general education paraprofessional. I have a Bachelor's in Library Media and Science, which I intend to use to eventually become a youth services librarian. I'm a proud book nerd, writer, gamer, hiker, and baker.

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