Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cut (Novel)

Cut (Novel) Release date: 2000. Author: Patricia McCormick. Publisher: PUSH. ISBN: 0439324599.

Plot summary: Callie is fifteen-years-old and has a troubling secret: she cuts herself. Her arms are criss-crossed with pink lines; she’s not sure if she can stop. After her habit is discovered, her parents send her to live at an inpatient treatment facility called Sea Pines. Other girls her age are at Sea Pines, or “Sick Minds” as the patients call it. Some have eating disorders, others have substance abuse problems. Once Callie is admitted, she won’t speak. Her doctors, counselors, nurses and other patients try to reach out to her; to get her to talk. She refuses, preferring to hide behind her hair and think about anything but the constant talking that happens around her. After awhile, however, Callie begins to feel a connection with some people at Sea Pines. A kind, motherly nurse, Ruby, seems to understand what she’s going through. Her therapist eventually gets her to open up. As she reveals more about herself, it becomes clearer why she cuts. It also becomes clear that it is up to Callie to get better, so that she can leave Sea Pines and live a normal life.

Critical evaluation: Cut is an emotionally draining novel, but one that is important for teens to read and understand. Self-mutilation is a problem that has come to the forefront of the media: just recently, teen sensation Demi Lovato was admitted to an inpatient facility, just like Callie, for disordered eating and it was revealed that she has struggled with cutting herself for a long time. The patients at Sea Pines could be, and most likely are, real-life teens. That’s not to say that Patricia McCormick’s novel is based on true events, but, after learning that the author spent over three years researching self-mutilation prior to writing the book, it’s likely that Callie exists somewhere in the real world. The style of the novel is interesting. Callie tells her story in the first-person and it is directed to her therapist. Why Callie cuts herself is not clear from the beginning of the story. The reader, like Callie, has to go through treatment to understand the reason Callie feels like she must punish herself. McCormick places the reader directly in Callie’s mind, and all the emotions she feels and expresses are quite palpable. Although it was written ten years ago, Cut remains as relevant for teens today as ever.

Reader's annotation: Fifteen-year-old Callie is admitted to the Sea Pines treatment facility after a troubling secret is discovered: Callie cuts herself.   
About the author: Patricia McCormick grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood, which is often the setting for the novels she now writes for young adults. She began writing as a child, mostly plays that she would stage with her younger sisters. After college, McCormick became a newspaper journalist before focusing on writing fiction. She often writes about difficult issues in the hopes that readers will be able to identify with characters who are struggling just as they are. Harkening to her days as a newspaper journalist, McCormick’s novels are often inspired by real life incidents she has read or heard about from the lives of her family and friends. She spent three years researching her first novel, Cut (2000). Since then she has written three more novels for young adults: My Brother’s Keeper (2005), Sold (2006), and Purple Heart (2009). Her novels have won numerous awards including the American Library Association award for Best Book of the Year in 2002, the Chicago Tribute Best of the Year in 2006, and the Booklist Top Ten Women’s History Books for Youth in 2007. McCormick lives in New York with her husband, son, and two cats. (
Genre: Fiction

Curriculum ties:
Eating disorders

Booktalking ideas:
Eating disorders
Feelings of guilt
Having a sibling with a chronic illness

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 8-12

Challenge issues:

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grade 8 and up.
Recommend parent discuss cutting with child before child reads novel.
Recommend parent read novel before child.

Reasons for inclusion:
Positive review from Boston Globe, New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn Book Magazine, Booklist, Voice of Youth Advocates.
Winner of ALA Book of the Year award, 2002.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author.    

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