Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cut by Patricia McCormick

Fifteen-year old Callie is so withdrawn that she's not speaking to anyone including her therapist at the residential treatment facility where her parents and doctor send her after discovering that she cuts herself. Her story unfolds primarily through dramatic monologues, gradually revealing the family turmoil that led to her self-destructive behavior. Her little brother, Sam, is ill he nearly died in her care. Since Sam's illness, Callie's mother has become so worried and fragile that she rarely leaves the house. Her father has responded to the psychological and financial stress of Sam's illness by disappearing into his work, and when that doesn't work, into his drinking.

Callie's efforts to understand herself and her family illuminate her process of recovery honestly and with hope. Cut provides an insightful look at the psychology of cutting a form of self-abuse an estimated 2 million teenage girls inflict on themselves. (From Goodreads)

Cut is an older book, but one I picked up at the library in a desperate attempt to find something to read.  I have to wait for the good books to come from other libraries.  I was intrigued by the way this novel was written.  At first, Callie doesn't speak at all.  She talks in her head, even answers people in her head, but we have no idea what has made her this way.  In group therapy there are an assortment of girls there for various things, eating disorders, substance abuse, and Callie the lone cutter.
The attendants at what the girls call "Sick Minds" really called Sea Pines are not exactly observant.  The girl with anorexia is throwing up while the attendant sits in the doorway and reads her paperback.  Callie knows but she's not talking.  She's able to sneak an aluminum pie tin out of the cafeteria and use it to cut herself.  I believe that's when she decides she wants to get better.  She doesn't want to die as she watches the blood drip from her arm faster than it ever has before.  That and the fact that there's a new cutter there wearing short sleeves and tank tops showing off her scars like she's proud of them with words carved into her arms.
Callie slowly starts to spill her story out to her therapist and talks in group and gains an understanding of her disorder.  She begins to understand why she does it and in an act of symbolism shows her therapist that she's ready to stop cutting, that she wants to heal.
It's a sad story, her whole family is damaged by the near death of her brother.  The girls in "Sick Minds" are subject to the corporate world of insurance and kicked out when insurance won't pay anymore despite the fact that they aren't cured.  And they have serious addictions be it food, drugs, cutting, or something else.  But they bond as a group and as one leaves the group has to deal with the loss of a family member as well as coping with their own illness.  The book ends on a high note with the possibility of Callie's family being able to heal from this.
I'm quite sure there are newer books on cutting and probably more fiction out there on cutters, but having never read one, I think this was a good book to start with.  There weren't a lot of details about the process just about Callie's struggle not to and her struggle to talk.

1 comment:

  1. I read this in high school and remember really liking it. Glad you liked it too.


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