Monday, September 27, 2010

Cut - Patricia McCormick

Cut broaches the sensitive topic of self-mutilation and is a very controversial book for many parents, teachers, librarians, and therefore schools.  Many parents are worried that their children will start cutting themselves as a result of reading this book or cite Cut as the reason their children began cutting. 
As adults, parents, teachers, or even friends we should be aware of the people around us and what they are struggling with.  If your child picks up a book like Cut, it may not be because she wants to cut herself.  She may be trying to educate herself on a friend's behavior or even just understand the world around her.  What is important is that as a parent (or whatever your role may be) you talk about what she is reading, try to understand her reasoning for being interested in such dark subject matter, and make sure all her questions are answered.  Just because we hide the information does not mean our children won't get their hands on it somehow.  We need to show children we trust them and think they are intelligent beings while also guiding and teaching them healthy habits and behavior.

Click here to read why many teachers believe that dark young adult novels should not be banned.

Summary:  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 even want to have anything to do with anyone.  She won't even speak.  But Callie can only stay silent for so long...  (Summary from back of the book and image from http://www.bookhills.com/)

My Review:  As a part of Banned Books Week, I wasn't surprised to see this Young Adult novel on the list.  Not because I think it should be banned, but because of the serious issues it raises.  Many girls are emotionally vulnerable during their adolescent years.  Parents worry that their child will be influenced by what they read, and that I can agree with.  What I cannot agree with is shielding your children to the point where they don't know about the world around them.  Things like cutting just happen.  Not because the child sees her parents cutting, but because it is a way to alleviate the pain she is feeling.  While it isn't healthy, it is a way of coping.  Parents, as well as teens, would benefit from reading a book like Cut.  It opens your eyes to why people may cut, to not give up when it may seem a lost cause, and how the cutting is just a cover for deeper pain.  I truly feel having your child's eyes opened to this kind of thing is better than sheltering her.  It's seems obvious to me that knowing your child is reading this book would mean having a conversation to clear up any misconceptions or concerns and answer any questions.  You never know if by reading this book your child may be able to help a friend.

Cal's story hit a chord with me.  Many friends of mine and a close family member dealt with issues brought up in this book--anorexia, bulimia, cutting.  Her stubborn resistance to healing and then her eventual recovery was very realistically portrayed.  So much of mental illnesses that exhibit themselves in a tangible way, such as cutting, are a cover for needing control and trying to find a way to deal with emotional pain.  Cal's struggle through her inner battle of wanting to heal and  her inner conflict of not wanting to give up something of herself by 'giving in' to healing rang true.  The depiction of how other girls hurting themselves then affect each other was also portrayed well.  Often it isn't until the person dealing with the illness realizes how much she is hurting others does she make any real progress of realizing the need to get better.

I highly recommend this book.  It's not a cake walk, but it is well written and well researched.  It is not an in-depth look into the world of mental illness (from depression to cutting), but it is a snap shot. 

Rating: 5 stars

Sum it up:  Subtle and moving, it opens your eyes to a world that can seem so incomprehensible.  A world where someone cuts herself to block out emotional pain.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I AM NOT MENTALLY ILL!

MindySue said...

Kari, I'll take this one.

There is some debate in the medical community as to whether cutting should be considered a mental illness or simply a symptom of a mental illness. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123529829 Either way, cutting is a dangerously self-destructive behavior and indicative of deeper problems. Please seek treatment if you or anyone you know practices cutting.

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