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Thursday, March 8, 2012

cut, written by Patricia McCormick. Scholastic, 2000. $8.99 ages 12 and up

"Your eyes widen slightly. "Is that how it feels?"
"That your mother doesn't want you around so she can be alone with your brother?"
I don't how exactly, but somehow I've said something I didn't mean to say. Something that's not quite true."

I should have read this book long ago. It has been there on my pile of books to be read. When I did read Sold I was certain that I needed to read anything else this fine author wrote. Finally, I picked it up and then couldn't put it down!

I have read other stories with strong characters who use cutting to help dull the pain in their lives. I was interested in getting to know Callie. This book is told from her point of view and has a strong voice...only in her head. Callie is mute...she doesn't speak to, or with, anyone at Sea Pines (called Sick Minds by the young girls who call it home for a period of time)...not the girls who are there to deal with their own problems, not the health care workers, not her therapist. She is obedient, but she never speaks. The girls have varied reasons for being there; only Amanda shares Callie's craving to cut: 

"She does what I do."
I watch for your expression to change, for there to be some slight shift from neutral what?
Disgusted? Disapproving? You wait calmly.
"She showed everybody her scars."
I bite my lip some more. That's it. I'm finished. I listen for the plane, but it's gone.
"You think she should have kept them to herself?"
"Do you think this new girl should have kept her scars hidden?"

It is a realistic look at Callie and her world. She is at the facility but she is making no progress and there is a chance that she will be released if no one can help her. With the arrival of Amanda, and some support from the girls who are also being treated, she begins to find her voice and speak with her therapist. Only then does she recognize why cutting eases the pain she is feeling.

Her parents are distant, her little brother has a life threatening illness that requires constant care and
her mother's full attention. Dealing with family issues has led Callie to try to numb the pain by hurting herself. It is only through her own strength of character that she finds the courage to make changes and perhaps find hope for the future.

This is a quick and powerful read, detailed in terms of Callie's difficulties and in the end, hopeful and always real.

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