Book Review: Cutter Boy by Cristy Watson

Title: Cutter Boy
Series: Sidestreets
Author: Cristy Watson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Lorimer
Release Date: February 12, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Bullied at school and ignored at home, Travis has a secret: cutting himself with a razor blade is the only thing that lets him control the pain in his life and find some peace. When he becomes friends with Chyvonne, a new girl at school, he doesn’t know how to get close to her without revealing his secret and making himself even more vulnerable. Spending time with Chyvonne spurs Travis to try to discover why his mother can’t seem to face his very existence. It’s only when he learns about the art form of paper cutting that he realizes there might be other ways to make himself feel adrenalin-fueled and in control.

Although self-harm through cutting is a problem usually associated with teenage girls, many young men are involved in different sorts of self-injury. This story explores a teenager’s motivations for cutting and the options for overcoming the need to self-injure.

Cutter Boy by Cristy Watson should probably come with a trigger warning. The book deals with bullying, feelings of being ignored or unloved, and with cutting. The story is not necessarily a good read for someone who is triggered by any of these things.

A teen boy cuts himself to feel better – to release angst or pain related to being bullied, being ignored by his parents, or anything else that makes him feel bad. Then a new girl moves into town who seems to like him. Between this new girl and a substitute teacher who shows him incredible art made from cut paper, he starts to wonder if there’s a better way.

This book, as I said, should come with a trigger warning. While none of the subject matter of this book is triggering for me, I know plenty of teens who would be triggered by this book. Some might be triggered to relapse into cutting again. Others might take courage that perhaps there might actually be a better way to deal with their daily struggles. Teens who have issues with bullying or cutting should probably be supervised by a parent or trusted friend while reading the book to ensure the subject matter doesn’t cause issues for them.

This book is well written and honestly, seems to be rather realistic in some aspects. It is possible that the depictions of bullying, cutting, etc., may not be accurate. I do not have personal knowledge in these areas, so I cannot be certain that it is accurate but it at least seems realistic to me. The characters are wonderful and everything that Travis feels makes so much sense when certain facts are finally revealed.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to those struggling with cutting for the simple fact that this book can show them there is a better way and that they might find that if they look hard enough or hold on long enough that there is a better way to handle their problems.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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