Author: Patricia McCormick
Published: February 1st 2002 (Push) (Originally published October of 2000)
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Contemporary
Rating: Three Stars
“A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.” Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak. But Callie can only stay silent for so long…
Purchase: (Marketplace) Barnes and Noble / Amazon
Cover Thoughts: The cover is really unique. I love the words in the background that describe the main character’s cutting. The cuts along the title were also an interesting addition.
First Line: you say it’s up to me to do the talking
First Thoughts: I love the voice this is in and I love that it’s kicking off with a therapy session.
The narration is most likely my favorite part of Cut. Cut is told in a first person as Callie tells pieces of her story to readers and her therapist. I loved Callie’s mutism in Cut. I enjoyed hearing Callie’s inner monologue throughout Cut. It was nice to be inside Callie’s head and know what she was thinking about when she refused to speak. It reminded me of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak another Young Adult novel written around the same time as Cut.
When we meet fifteen year old Callie, she’s currently in therapy at the residential treatment facility called Sea Pines. Callie has been admitted to the facility for cutting herself. It’s there that she meets the girls in her group. There’s Sydney, Callie’s roommate, who is a drug addict. There is Tara and Becca, two girls with anorexia. There’s Tiffany, who is at Sea Pines to avoid going to jail for crack. Finally there is Debby, an overweight, semi-codependent girl who looks out for Becca.
Sydney was my favorite character of them all. She was supportive of Callie. She’s also the one to come up with calling Sea Pines, “Sick Minds” instead. I liked her sense of humor a lot and she really cared about the girls in her group.
What attracted me to Cut initially is the fact it takes place in a mental hospital with an ensemble cast and dealt with a self-harming character, as that’s a little rare. I really liked reading about each of the girls and wish they would have been in the book more. I felt myself drawn more to the side characters than the main character herself. I did find myself making comparisons to the movie Girl, Interrupted because of the similarity in plot.
I liked seeing Callie’s relationship grow with the girls. It’s not perfect, they’re not all suddenly best friends, but it was nice to see them grow beyond just other girls with issues. I was left wanting to see more of their relationship after the book though.
Although I liked reading about Sydney and the other girls, there were a few characters I would have liked to know more about, like Amanda, a cutter who has shown no interest in stopping cutting and feels she has control over it. Amanda wasn’t developed enough for me to have any real opinion on her.
I wish Callie had more character development. She seemed a little monotone throughout Cut, understandably of course. I would have still liked to see her personality more, mostly before she began cutting. It was interesting to see her relationships with her parents who were realistically imperfect while not being bad parents. There were a few plots involving Becca and Tiffany I would have liked to be elaborated on or wrapped up. I know with only a short book length, it can be difficult to share everything though. I felt Callie was a pretty relatable character and I could understand her reasons for cutting.
The part that I enjoyed most about Cut was hearing about the residential facility itself. I was always interested in the group therapy Callie was in. There’s a group leader for these sessions that I wish Callie would have interacted with more. I liked seeing Callie’s relationship progress with her therapist, a kind woman sincerely interested in helping Callie. Callie slowly opened up to her therapist little by little. At times I wish Callie would have just told her what was wrong, but I know that’s not always easy, especially not to a stranger.
It was nice to see the different activities the patients took part in every day and how their schedule went. The adults were well portrayed and weren’t the typical mean, insensitive faculty that is occasionally found in psych ward books. They really seemed to care about their patients. Especially the therapist Callie has, as I mentioned, and Ruby, a nurse whose squeaking shoes helps Callie at night.
McCormick got across a teenager’s feelings well and I could find myself relating to Callie and the other girls in various ways. I liked how there wasn’t necessarily a straight answer with the reason Callie cut. I like how Callie was ultimately responsible for herself getting better and really reaching out for help although it’s really difficult for her.
Cut wasn’t as emotionally jarring as expected from the subject matter or that I would have liked, but it is a good book. I rate it three stars. I would recommend it to someone who is interested in a realistic character driven Young Adult novel that deals with self-harm.