Wednesday, August 13th, 7:30pm:
The Last Bookstore is excited to host Sarah Cornwell as she celebrates her debut novel’s paperback release.
A family trip to the Jersey Shore goes awry as Olivia Reed searches for her missing son while wrestling with tumultuous memories and secrets from her past in What I Had Before I Had You, a highly compelling debut novel by Sarah Cornwell. With previous stories published in 2013 Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Missouri Review, and Mid-American Review, this award-winning writer seamlessly weaves together the past and present as she examines the relationships between mothers and daughters and the captivating forces of magic and memory.
This suspenseful narrative alternates between Olivia’s present-day search for her son and her transformative summer in the same shore town in 1987. Two decades later, after splitting up with her husband, Olivia returns to her hometown with her adolescent daughter, Carrie, and nine-year-old son, Daniel, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Daniel disappears, triggering his mother’s haunting memories of the past and her fragile relationship with her own mother.
Olivia recalls the summer she was fifteen, when she bolted straight from childhood into adolescence and rebelled against her erratic, yet loveable, psychic mother. When Olivia has a psychic vision of her own–seeing the ghosts of her twin sisters– her mother dismisses it, propelling Olivia to leave home in search of the truth about her family and the secrets of her mother’s actions.
With a vibrant array of characters and the complex, surprising relationships between them, What I Had Before I Had You unravels a deeply mystical, poignant truth, written with psychological acuity and sophisticated prose.
“Captivating. . . . Depth of insight, dreamy prose, and an engrossing storyline mark this wonderful debut.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Sarah Cornwell grew up in Narberth, Pennsylvania. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including the 2013 Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Missouri Review, Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, Hunger Mountain, and Alaska Quarterly Review, and has been honored with a Pushcart Prize, the 2008 Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, and finalist honors for the Keene Prize for Literature. In 2010, her screenwriting was recognized with the Humanitas Student Drama Fellowship. She was the Spring 2012 Writer-in-Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy and a 2011 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow for Pennsylvania State. Sarah has worked as an investigator of police misconduct, a writer in the schools, an MCAT tutor, a psychological research interviewer, a toy seller, and a screenwriter. She lives in Los Angeles.