by Cristy Watson
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.
February is really my month. I’m so glad the books I’ve been reading lately are worth devouring and crying for. Tonight, I finished Cutter Boy and oh my gosh, it blew me away.
Bullied constantly at school and ignored by his mom all throughout his life, Travis found solace, adrenalin, satisfaction and peace through bleeding. Hidden behind his mattress was a razor-sharp blade which he slide and cut on various parts of his body – wrists, arms, shoulders and thighs. Travis was a mess, ridiculed, unwanted.
Travis was a cutter boy. And boy, what an excruciating pain he must have been living in.
When new girl, Haitian-Canadian Chyvonne became his partner in English and companion in PE, Travis’ life took on a new spin. She made him smile, grin, cook Meatballs and mashed potatoes and look forward to the next day at school. And soon he found an alternate way to cut out his frustrations. He became a paper artist. He was able to channel his anger through paper cutting and became a significant mess.
But his mom still didn’t talk to him nor even tried to get near him. He was like a plague, a virus, a disease she never wanted to encounter or get in contact with.
I was really so absorbed in Travis’ life and struggles that I didn’t realize I was able to finish this book in about an hour. I couldn’t help but cringe every time Travis cut his skin with a sharp blade. I get hurt when he hurts himself. I get hurt when the bullies punch him in the face. I get hurt when he sees his friend talking to the enemy. I get hurt when his own mother can’t even look at him but she can be very charismatic when his son’s girlfriend talks to her. I get hurt for him.
This book is an eye opener. First, I didn’t realize guys could do such thing as cutting themselves. With girls, I have encountered many circumstances where this had happened. But rarely in guys.
Second, I was blown away about the people who use blades and paper to create a masterpiece. ‘Tis my first time to learn about Beatrice Coron and her paper cut designs. I even googled all the paper artists mentioned in the book. They were all astounding!
And lastly, I didn’t know there are people who resorted to not giving a damn or plainly ignoring their own family members because they are incapable of coping.
Cutter Boy is a powerful book. Cristy Watson wrote a story that felt like a knife twisting your guts until you could no longer feel anything. I was emotionally unprepared with this kind of pain. I felt tortured, yes, but in the end, I was able to breathe.
**Note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**