Burdened with the pressure of believing she is responsible for her brother's illness, 15-year-old Callie begins a course of self-destruction that leads to her being admitted to Sea Pines, a psychiatric hospital the "guests" refer to as Sick Minds. Although initially she refuses to speak, her individual and group therapy sessions trigger memories and insights. Slowly, she begins emerging from her miserable silence, ultimately understanding the role her dysfunctional family played in her brother's health crisis.
Patricia McCormick's first novel is authentic and deeply moving. Callie suffers from a less familiar teen problem--she cuts herself to relieve her inner frustrations and guilt. The hope and hard-won progress that comes at the conclusion of the novel is believable and heartening for any teen reader who feels alone in her (or his) angst. Along with Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak and E.L. Konigsburg's Silent to the Bone, McCormick's Cut expertly tackles an unusual response to harrowing adolescent trouble. (Ages 14 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
This first novel combines pathos with insight as it describes adolescent girls being hospitalized for a variety of psychiatric disorders: "The place is called a residential treatment facility. It is not called a loony bin," states Callie, the narrator, with characteristic grit. Callie does not speak aloud for most of the story, but directs her silent commentary chiefly to her therapist. Through this internalized dialogue, readers become aware of Callie's practice of cutting herself and, more gradually, how her cutting is a response to the dynamics of her damaged family. Similarly, the other girls' problemsDanorexia, overeating, substance abuseDcome to seem (both to themselves and to readers) like attempts to fight off parental or societal obliviousness to their needs: "It's like we're invisible," says a girl during a climactic scene. While running the risk of simplifying the healing process, this novel, like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, sympathetically and authentically renders the difficulties of giving voice to a very real sense of harm and powerlessness. Refusing to sensationalize her subject matter, McCormick steers past the confines of the problem-novel genre with her persuasive view of the teenage experience. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
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