Cut - by Patricia McCormick

"definitely a page-turner – gives you a new perspective on cutting"

Cut is a short novel centered on one girl’s journey to find her voice and her fit in with others.  Callie, the main character, is a cutter.  She is currently living in a “residential treatment facility” called Sea Pines (Sick Minds, as they call it) to try to get help and learn about herself. Throughout the story, her group therapy, filled with six other girls with issues from anorexia to drugs, is trying to understand and encourage each other.  The novel explores the mind of someone with a problem and helps better target its origins in personal and family struggles, which is something I think many people can relate to.

Throughout the first half of the book, Callie stays silent. “I don’t tell you any of this, though.  I don’t say anything. I just hug my elbows to my sides.”  Most of the story, especially during the period of silence that Callie undergoes, is about her thoughts, how she perceives things, and her interactions with the other members of the facility.  Though lack of main character dialogue could have been a bit of turn-off, it doesn’t affect the story in a negative way in the slightest, as you get to see inside Callie’s mind and read her thoughts. The author’s authentic voice makes reading Callie private thoughts almost uncomfortable at times, because it feels like you’re reading something very personal that wasn’t meant to be read by others.

The book is written in a casual style that’s easy to read.  It catches you and draws you in from the very first page and keeps you wanting to know more until you realize that you have finished.  Even though the book isn’t filled with constant action or a wondrous love story, the book is definitely a page-turner in its own way.  Only about 150 pages long, it’s a good book for reluctant readers, yet it satisfies the stomach of the avid reader as well.  An interesting aspect is that the story is being told to her therapist, using “you” as if the reader was in the position of the therapist.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, reading the entire thing in one sitting.  It’s a quick, entertaining read that gives you new perspective on things most people can’t easily know about unless experiencing firsthand, such as cutting.  It’s a good book that I would recommend to others looking for something fast and thought provoking.

   - Sydney R.

"a young girl, in desperation, turns to the security of destructive behavior"

Finding a book that is actually worth the time to read is difficult.  Cut is definitely worth the time.  The plot and storyline are both disturbing; yet I found myself unable to put it down.  Short and easy to read, it’s a good choice for a busy high-schooler or even someone who just wants a good story.  Sadly enough most teens are able to relate to Callie, the main character’s, position in one way or another.  People often become destructive at one point in their lifetime whether it is physical, mental, or both.  Help is needed once the problem gets to the point that abusers are no longer able to control their actions or realize that they are harming themselves.  This novel clearly explains that each individual is responsible for her own destiny.

Cut is told from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Callie, who finds relief in the sensation of cutting herself.  Her little brother has asthma, her mother is constantly worried about everything, and her father is never around, which creates the stress and reason she needs to cut.  By recommendation from her school Callie is sent to a facility designed to treat adolescents with destructive behavior.  It was commercially known as Sea Pines, but the girls enrolled there call it Sick Minds for obvious reasons.  When she is placed in a group with several other girls to discuss their issues, however, Callie goes mute.  She not only refuses to talk with the counselors and psychiatrist but also to any other human being, including her parents and little brother.  Her hard headed determination and nonexistent interest in her recovery make it very difficult for the facility to treat her. 

Patricia McCormick does a superb job in explaining her view on the topic of self-abuse in the novel.  I was astounded that she was able to write such an elaborate and detailed story without being a victim of self-destruction herself.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick read or enjoys the simple suspense of a young troubled life. Even though it’s a short book, it successfully tugs at the deeply emotional topic of a young girl who, in the midst of desperation, turns to the security of her destructive behaviors.

It felt as if I was listening to Callie’s thoughts as she went through torturous treatment and self discovery. Being told from Callie’s perspective made the plot more interesting.  I felt as if I was closer to her because I was allowed the chance to understand her insight and connect closer with her emotions without it being told from an outside view.  This book would make an excellent addition to anyone’s library whether you identify with Callie burden or not.

   - Jordan R.

"I almost wish this book were required for school; it touched me as a writer."

Cut is a very personal story told from the point of view of an almost forgotten girl. Patricia McCormick tells the story of a girl who cuts herself,. a very touchy subject for some people. The story itself is written in quite a unique style, segueing between meetings with the psychiatrist assigned to her at the institute to her group therapy sessions with the other girls.

McCormick spent three years researching this debut novel. Cut is told as if Callie were talking to you, as the psychiatrist.  While practically imprisoned in Sea Pines, the institution she’s been sent to, she befriends girls with different problems they're dealing with. Tara and Becca are anorexic. Debbie has an overeating problem, Sydney is a recovering drug addict, and Tiffany is also a recovering drug addict who chose Sea Pines instead of jail. These girls practically become Callie's family throughout her stay at "Sick Minds," as the girls call it. McCormick captures a girl who most people overlook  in a way that really touched me as a reader and writer. I would seriously recommend this book for those who are curious about either cutting, or people who cut. Most people out there who know someone who cuts themselves don’t understand what those people go through, or why they do it. This book really helps those who want to help. It seems today that people just make fun of or don’t even give these kids a second glance because they hurt themselves. I almost wish this book were required for school because more people do this than anything, and we don’t even know what to do most of the time. I think this book would help us to understand what these kids go through, or at least how to help. It’s very well written, and I seriously recommend it as a good read for those who are the least bit curious.

   - Bryan G.

"a read that will change your perspective on what cutters go through"

Cut is a short novel that tells the story of Callie, a young girl who feels like she has to punish herself for something she has no control over. During the novel, Callie is enrolled in a treatment facility for cutting. At the facility, she attends group therapy with six other girls who need treatment for other various sicknesses. During group therapy, all the girls talk about their problems, except Callie. Callie refuses to speak throughout the first part of the novel. She refuses to speak to her parents, her brother, her psychiatrist, and especially her group, which makes it especially hard for the facility to treat her. For more than half of the book, it is as if Callie is telling the reader all of her thoughts, which makes the novel much more personal in a sense that no one else knows what she is thinking but you; it’s almost like she is telling you her secrets.

Patricia McCormick does a wonderful job of helping the reader to understand Callie’s terrible struggle with cutting. Even though I don’t know anything about cutting, after reading this novel I feel like I know what Callie was going through and how she felt. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a short read, but also a read that will change your perspective on certain things and help you understand what cutters go through.

   - Molly Frances H.