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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 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.
- Publisher : Push; Reprint edition (May 1, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0545290791
- ISBN-13 : 978-0545290791
- Reading age : 12 - 15 years
- Grade level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.5 x 7.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #81,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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Callie is a good narrator. I could really relate to what she said then, and I understand why I did now. As an in-patient at a women's mental health facility, Callie is refusing to speak. A little book reveals a lot about her in just a few words. You'll have to pay close attention. I like that this book leaves some things open-ended, plot threads not tied off neat and square. Readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions and opinions. The author was really sticking to "show, don't tell" when she wrote this.
I found the nicknames and dialogue in this to be a little off. You don't hear people talk the way things are written here. Sydney's character in particular seems campy and forced.
You'll get out of this book what you read between the lines. If you're just interested in a story, this book is lacking. There's a lot to get out of this book, especially for a YA book, but it's not that topical.
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."
Top reviews from other countries
It can linger a little long in places but has fairly good despcriptions so it is not too bad. It is a good read if you have an interest it or experience of the topic but it can seem to fall a little short in relation to this at times. If you have personal experience of self-harm then it may not fufil all your needs and may leave you wanting more as it does not cover all aspects. It would be a good book to help you try and overcome it though.
More for those who wish to know about the topic, it does give a realistic look at the troubles a teenager in this situation can face and the start down the path to recovery. Give it a try- it gives a realistic view of a difficult subject.