In this adaptation of McCormick's debut novel, Lewis (TV's Ellen) imbues her reading with the cynicism and pain of the book's troubled 15-year-old protagonist, Callie. Callie faces some difficult emotional hurdles as a "guest" at the residential treatment center where she has been sent because she cuts herself with sharp objects. In a flat, unaffected tone, befitting someone unhappy with her situation, Lewis's Callie explains the daily routines and schedules at Sea Pines, the facility dubbed "Sick Minds" by Callie's roommate. Though she doesn't speak to her fellow guests, or even her doctors at first, listeners are always privy to Callie's feelings and her impressions of her surroundings, be it what the anorexic guests don't eat or how the substance abuse guests cope. Details of her stressful, dysfunctional home life trickle out along the way; it's at these points that Lewis's vulnerable voice invites listeners to feel compassion for Callie. As Callie makes breakthroughs with her therapists and comes to better understand her behavior and its causes, Lewis meets the challenge of tearful scenes. Lewis never sounds phony, though, and conveys the hope in McCormick's ending, which suggests Callie's eventual recovery. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel combines pathos with insight as it describes adolescent girls being hospitalized for a variety of psychiatric disorders: "The place is called a residential treatment facility. It is not called a loony bin," states Callie, the narrator, with characteristic grit. Callie does not speak aloud for most of the story, but directs her silent commentary chiefly to her therapist. Through this internalized dialogue, readers become aware of Callie's practice of cutting herself and, more gradually, how her cutting is a response to the dynamics of her damaged family. Similarly, the other girls' problems--anorexia, overeating, substance abuse--come to seem (both to themselves and to readers) like attempts to fight off parental or societal obliviousness to their needs: "It's like we're invisible," says a girl during a climactic scene. While running the risk of simplifying the healing process, this novel, like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, sympathetically and authentically renders the difficulties of giving voice to a very real sense of harm and powerlessness. Refusing to sensationalize her subject matter, McCormick steers past the confines of the problem-novel genre with her persuasive view of the teenage experience. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Callie doesn't speak, not even to her therapist at Sea Pinesnicknamed Sick Minds by other patients at the "residential treatment facility." Instead, Callie hides behind her hair, studies carpets stains, counts stripes in the wallpaper, and pulls her sleeves down over her cuts. This disturbing account of a teenaged girl's slow and painful awakening to the reasons behind her self-mutilation makes for compelling and enlightening reading. Reminiscent in part of Cormier's I Am the Cheese, McCormick uses realistic and telling details of private therapy to give the reader clues, but no answers, to Callie's destructive tendencies. The reader, like Callie, must learn to see things from different perspectives, or "think laterally," as her nine-year-old brother Sam advises her when he's winning a game of Connect Four. Although the story doesn't quite sustain its tension to the end, it does begin with real punch and delivers knowledgeable insight into mental illness and its treatment throughout. The author's ability to depict genuinely caring and competent physicians, while still staying true to Callie's distrustful point of view, is especially noteworthy. This honest portrayal of all perspectives, coupled with a gripping story, makes this a valuable book for both teens and parents. 2000, Front Street, $16.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
This extraordinary novel explores the psychological phenomenon of self-mutilation known as cutting. Written in first person, the book recounts the story of thirteen-year-old Callie, who has been placed in a residential treatment center. Although many patients have eating disorders, others, such as Callie, repeatedly cut their skin with sharp objects, creating physical scars, scabs, and sores that mirror the mental ones. The story unfolds through Callie's therapy sessions, her interactions with other residents, and her mental monologues. Mute by choice, Callie's silence is her sanity. Her younger brother Sam's severe asthma has altered the family dynamics and taken over their lives. Callie's coping mechanism is cutting. Although the road to recovery for any such patient is long and extensive, this book gives the reader just a glimpse into the psyche of one teenager who cuts. Realistic, sensitive, and heartfelt, this book explores the power of the human spirit as it struggles through mental illness. The well-developed characters, including the motherly, rock-solid secondary character of Ruby, one of the attendants, also reflect the author's strength as a writer. This brilliant novel is even more perceptive than Shelley Stoehr's Crosses (Delacorte, 1991/VOYA October 1991) and James Bennett's I Can Hear the Mourning Dove (Houghton Mifflin, 1990/VOYA October 1990). VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Front Street, 168p. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Mary Ann Capan VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
To quote KLIATT's January 2001 review of the hardcover edition: Fifteen-year-old Callie is currently living at Sea Pines, known by its "guests" as Sick Minds; it's a residential treatment facility where she has been sent after it was discovered that she was cutting herself. The other troubled girls there dub Callie "S.T.," for Silent Treatment, because she refuses to talk to anyone at first. Gradually, however, Callie starts to interact with the other girls and finally begins to open up to her therapist. She tells about her feelings of guilt over a severe asthma attack suffered by her brother, and how his illness has affected the family, leaving her to cope with life on her own. She manages to tell her father how she feels, too, and the ending is a hopeful one. The realities of life in a psychiatric hospital are conveyed well in this strong first novel, as well as the stresses that led to Callie's disorder. There are detailed accounts of her cutting behavior, too, but they aren't here for shock value; rather, they contribute to the authentic feel of the novel. Callie and the other residents, anorexics and drug users as well as a fellow cutter, come across as believable and mostly sympathetic characters. The glimpse of life inside a treatment center will intrigue readers, and Callie's neediness, her courage, and her realistically difficult recovery will move them. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Scholastic, Push, 152p.,
School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-This compelling novel by Patricia McCormick (Front St., 2000) is presented as a first-person account by Callie, who is confined to a mental health facility. Sea Pine (Sick Minds) is home to teenage "guests" with a variety of problems: substance abuse, anorexia, and behavior issues. Fifteen-year-old Callie cuts herself. While this account describes group therapy and Callie's fears, she sits silently during group and individual therapy sessions. The turning point occurs when she is gradually drawn into the lives of the other teen residents. Listeners anxiously wait to discover why Callie harms herself. Actress Clea Lewis does an excellent job of portraying the different characters with her voice inflections. Listeners are drawn into the girls' despair and become painfully aware of the emotional angst resulting in each girl's confinement at Sea Pines. A good choice for fans of Susanna Kaysen's Girl Interrupted -Lynda Short, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
I'd never understood cutting before I read ''Cut,'' a vivid and inspiring first novel by Patricia McCormick. I couldn't imagine what the allure was, until I realized that it's not that far from many more common self-inflicted injuries that are just passing phases in many kids' lives: head banging, finger biting, slamming a fist into a wall...The story of how Callie and some of the others begin to get well demystifies mental illness, but doesn't oversimplify or sentimentalize it. To McCormick's credit, we care -- about the girls and about their clumsy, frightened parents.
New York Times Book Review
Sea Pines, a.k.a. Sick Minds, treats teenaged girls with food- and substance-abuse issues, and Callie, whose issue is self-mutilation. She will not talk about her dysfunctional family, her guilt toward her brother Sam's severe asthma, or why she cuts herself. She will not talkperiod. Cut is Callie's interior monologue that alternates between her interactions with her therapist and her interactions with the other residents, the staff, and her family. Her thought process reveals a girl who seems to have given up on life until one cut scares the life back into her. The ability to talk then becomes a metaphor for Callie's ability to understand herself and to begin the healing process. Readers are also treated to the downfalls and triumphs of Callie's peers, including a new resident who shares Callie's affliction. First-timer McCormick tackles a side of mental illness that is rarely seen in young-adult literature in a believable and sensitive manner. Unlike other authors of this genre, she avoids stereotypes and blends gentle humor with this serious topic. McCormick ultimately portrays Callie as a normal teenager who yearns for a stable family structure and friends, and who also has a psychological problem. A thoughtful look at teenage mental illness and recovery. (Fiction. 13-15)
From the Publisher
An ALA Quick Pick for YA Readers
A NYPL Book for the Teen Age
"First-timer McCormick tackles a side of mental illness that is rarely seen in young-adult literature in a believable and sensitive manner. . . .. A thoughtful look at teenage mental illness and recovery." --KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review
"Like E. L. Konigsburg's Silent to the Bone and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Cut is another authentic-sounding novel in which elective mutism plays a part, this time with humor making the pain of adolescence gone awry more bearable...an exceptional character study of a young woman and her hospital mates who struggle with demons so severe that only their bodies can confess." --BOOKLIST