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Reading Mondays: Cut by Patricia McCormick

When you borrow books from a library, one of the best things is you come across a book and pick it up anyhow, even though it belongs to a genre you would never normally read (or pay to buy).

I recently picked up Cut by Patricia McCormick.

 It is a young adult novel (and somewhat of a cult classic, as I discovered afterwards), and I thought I would just browse through it, because the premise looked interesting: a teenaged girl who cuts herself.

 Having in the past read about all the hoo-haa some people have raised about how young adult books are unsuitably dark, I wanted to see how the subject was treated here….from the cover and the blurb, I knew it was not a cheerful, fluffy book.

I began reading, and I was hooked. The voice of the girl who did not talk, but was talking to me, left me spellbound.  I cried several times, at the searing honesty of that voice, at the suffering this girl and others at the treatment facility go through, at the ultimate ending of hope. I finished reading the book in four hours.

Hats off to Patricia McCormick for so convincingly entering a disturbed teenager’s world, not once sounding didactic or theatrical, and keeping me with the story throughout (which, with my current attention span of a monkey, is not easy to do.) . Most of all, I thank her for giving me a sense of hope when I was so down and out (not clinically depressed or anything but very despairing nevertheless).

I’m now going to dig out this author’s other books from the library, and finish all of them. And I’m going to buy Cut, because it is a keeper.

The book is dark, yes. But teenagers face variants of this darkness time and again, and I think it is a very good thing that they can witness this darkness in a book like Cut, see how it is faced, empathize with Callie, its hurting protagonist, and experience hope.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    Kim and Jayne, yes, that is the lesson I learnt…reading widely has its advantages.

    John, yes, she is searingly honest in her writing. She is also very thoughtful in her interactions: she replied to my tweet about her book, and sent me her appreciation. As a reader, I love that!

  • John Ling says:

    Regardless of the subject matter and how it's treated, the most important thing is honesty. And McCormick has that in spades. You get the sense when you read her work that there's very little that she's actually faking.

  • Jayne says:

    It's great to read a book out of the usual genre. I started doing this last year and had a heady sudden rush of freedom – all books, any books – I can read them all!

    This sounds very interesting. Will have to look out for it.

  • Kim says:

    Nice book review – and thanks for the recommendation. I too hardly stray from my preferred genre… maybe I should try reading outside of what I think I like more often 🙂