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Cut Paperback – Color, May 1, 2011
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A NYPL Book for the Teen Age
"First-timer McCormick tackles a side of mental illness that is rarely seen in young-adult literature in a believable and sensitive manner. . . .. A thoughtful look at teenage mental illness and recovery." --KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review
"Like E. L. Konigsburg's Silent to the Bone and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Cut is another authentic-sounding novel in which elective mutism plays a part, this time with humor making the pain of adolescence gone awry more bearable...an exceptional character study of a young woman and her hospital mates who struggle with demons so severe that only their bodies can confess." --BOOKLIST
From the Author
I entered the locked ward with some trepidation. The girls on the other side of the door were all confined there because of dangerous things they'd done with sharp objects: shards of glass, box cutters, knives. Friends had questioned my decision to visit the ward. But these girls weren't dangerous to others: they were hurting themselves.
I was nervous because I'd written a manuscript about a girl who cut herself - and I'm not a cutter. I was sure the girls would call me out as phony, as a poser, as someone who'd exploited their pain. I'd spent more than two years working on the book - but I was prepared to toss it the garbage if these girls told me that I had no right to try to tell their story.
One by one, they approached me. With curiosity, with a nervousness of their own. And one by one, they told me their stories. Stories of terrible violence - committed against themselves. But what moved me even more was the secrecy and isolation they suffered.
One girl, a pretty blond with expressive blue eyes, told me she'd worn a turtleneck when she went to the beach with her family; no one asked why. Another girl, with an adorable boyish hair cut and mischievous eyes, said she kept going to the same hardware store to get bigger blades - wishing that the man behind the counter would ask her what she was doing with them. And another girl described telling her parents transparent lies about her cuts - blaming on them on the cat or 'falling on a coke bottle' - always hoping they'd see through her stories.
What I realized then was that they wanted to be found out. They were caught in a cycle of hurting themselves, then being terribly ashamed and afraid of what they'd done, feelings that would drive them to hurt themselves again - each time, a little worse. They were practically advertising what they were doing - because they didn't know how to stop.
Some told friends - then begged their friends not to say anything. Those friends were then pulled into the secret and struggled with their own guilt and worry. But a lot of the girls at SAFE Alternatives, the center I visited, were there because of those friends. Friends who were willing put their friendship on the line - by telling a trusted adult - because they recognized that it was a secret too dangerous to keep.
Since CUT was published I've heard from thousands of readers: girls who said the book prompted them to get help, concerned friends and parents, teachers and therapists who wanted to understand what a behavior that confused and frightened them.
Most moving, though, were the comments from the girls in that locked ward. They all read my manuscript - then asked to see my scars. I told them, with some hesitation, that I made the story up, that I had never self-injured. 'But you told my story,' they each said. 'How could you know how it felt?' And it dawned on me, then, finally, why I identified with them, why I'd written the book in the first place.
I was that girl in the book - the girl who was so lonely, so angry and hurt - and so confused that I couldn't put it all into words. I remember all too well how alone I felt. I did some self-destructive things - I think we all do - and took on responsibility and shame for things that weren't really mine to shoulder. The facts of my life were different from theirs; the emotional truth was the same.
The girls at SAFE Alternatives gave me their blessing to publish the book. In fact, they were really pleased to see that their experience - something cloaked in secrecy and shame would be put into words. With their own recovery underway, they hoped that others who were struggling with self-injury would feel less alone and get help. By giving Callie a voice, they said, the book was giving them a voice.
But it was those girls who gave me the biggest gift. They gave me the confidence to believe in the power of a fiction - to connect us more deeply, perhaps, than the facts ever could.
Top customer reviews
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She spent three years researching and writing the book. "The phenomenon of girls cutting themselves in secret," she tells in an interview on her publisher's website, [...] "both repulsed and fascinated me. . . I started out reading everything I could about cutting, although at the time there wasn't much written and there was only one young adult novel on the topic. . . After I finished the first draft of the book, I went to S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) and amazing facility that treats people who self-injure. . . to my surprise almost every detail was exactly like those I'd imagined in my book!"
Cut was an ALA Quick Pick for YA Readers and a NYPL Book for the Teen Age.
I really liked the book Cut and thought it was the best out of the three cutting novels that I read for this project. (The other two were Crosses by Shelley Stoehr and Tribes by Arthur Slade). Callie is a sympathetic character with a unique voice. The book doesn't get bogged down with too much psycho-babble as some problem-novel books can. Rather, the focus remains on Callie and her struggle to make peace with her emotions without resorting to self-injury.
Yes, her problems may have been less severe than may others who cut because of a post-traumatic stress disorder, or sexual abuse, or physical abuse, but I think her problems are more approachable to the reader because they're not glamorous or sensationalized. Young Adults trying to carve their way through peer pressures, getting into college, and studying for SATs, can all relate to her difficulties.
Reading about something does not make you do it. Reading about running a marathon doesn't make you go out and run one. Reading about bullying doesn't make you a bully. Reading about cutting does not make you cut.
Or in other words, as Callie's therapist in Cut very eloquently says on page 126:
"Callie. . . There are all kinds of things in the world you could use to hurt yourself. All kinds of things you can turn into weapons. Even if you wanted to give them all to me, it wouldn't be possible. You know that, don't you?"
I do know that, I guess. I nod.
"I can't keep you safe," you say. "Only you can."
The next question you may be asking (or for some the first) is likely, "Is this a good book about cutting?" To which I say that this is probably not a perfect imitation of the trails that one goes through when engaging in self-injury. Many of the problems and issues that go along with the condition feel as though they happened before the start of the novel such as: the pressure to hide the scars, the first cut, reactions from other peers (although it is touched on briefly), or even the parents finding out. However, that doesn't mean that we, as the reader aren't given a look into the mind of a girl clearly battling with an addiction she herself doesn't understand. Callie will rip your heart out at times, but she will also fill you with hope an inspiration as you take the journey with her to defeat her demons and find out what it is that makes her feel like the worst person ever.
"Cut" is definitely a great read. Its short, and as such it doesn't really delve into the issue of self-injury, but what it does do is deliver a rich and endearing tale on why its good to sometimes seek help, and that finding our voice is the only way to silence the things we never want to say. Self-injury aside, if you're looking for something new and interesting, give "Cut" a look.
Most recent customer reviews
Fun, exciting and loved all of the characters. I hope there will be a sequel.