Patricia McCormick

A teenager’s desperate attempt to stay alive and her path to recovery.

You say it’s up to me to do the talking. You lean forward, place a box of tissues in front of me and your black leather chair groans, like a living thing. Like the cow it used to be before somebody killed it and turned it into a chair in a shrink’s office in a loony bin.

Fifteen-year old Callie is so withdrawn that she’s not speaking to anyone —including her therapist at the “residential treatment facility” where her parents and doctor send her after discovering that she cuts herself. Her story unfolds primarily through dramatic monologues, gradually revealing the family turmoil that led to her self-destructive behavior. Her little brother, Sam, is ill —he nearly died in her care. Since Sam’s illness, Callie’s mother has become so worried and fragile, she rarely leaves the house; she sees danger everywhere. Her father has responded to the psychological and financial stress of Sam’s illness by disappearing into his work, and when that doesn’t work, into his drinking. None of this is clear at first, though, especially not to Callie. Only after a cutting incident that scares her, does Callie begin talking —to her therapist and the other girls at Sea Pines.

Cut alternates between scenes of life inside the institution with its strange rules and characters and a series of exchanges between Callie and her therapist in which she addresses the therapist only as “you.” Callie’s efforts to understand herself and her family illuminate her process of recovery honestly and with hope. Cut provides an insightful look at the psychology of cutting —a form of self-abuse an estimated 2 million teenage girls inflict on themselves.


  • Ages: 14 - 17
  • Grades: 9 - 12
  • Pages: 176


Recent Reviews

7 Callie’s first-person account of her stay at Sea Pines, a mental-health facility, is poignant and compelling reading. ... Shelley Stoehr’s Crosses and Steven Levenkron’s Luckiest Girl in the World dealt with cutting, but Cut takes the issue one step further—to help teens find solutions to problems.

—School Library Journal

7 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

7 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.

—Publishers Weekly

A vivid and inspiring first novel ... Cut is deft and fascinating —part psychological mystery story (what’s eating Callie?) and part adolescent drama (will her friends help her get better?).

—New York Times Book Review

Cut, a debut novel by Patricia McCormick, is one of the best young-adult novels in years. …Cut is everything one hoped Girl, Interrupted might be — riveting and hopeful, sweet, heartbreaking, with something much like a happy ending.

—The Boston Globe

First-time author McCormick creates a sensitive portrayal of a young girl’s illness and her difficult path to recovery.

—Horn Book

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 exceptional character study of a young woman and her hospital mates who struggle with demons so severe that only their bodies can confess.


The first-person present-tense narrative voice … is effective in its hushed intensity and fragile distance … McCormick spins a compelling yarn.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Honors for Cut

  • Nominee for the Teen Book category of the Arizona Young Readers' Award
  • Isinglass Teen Reads Award Winner —middle school students of New Hampshire
  • Gateway Book List —The Missouri Gateway Readers' Choice Award for Teens
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • Children's Literature Choice List
  • ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers Top Ten
  • Top Choice List —Children's Literature
  • Books for the Teen Age —NYPL