I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Lorimer on August 1st 2016
Genres: Light Romance, Mental Illness, YA Romance, Young Adult
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.
Mature-Content Rating: Trigger Warnings, Bullying, Language
Cutter Boy does have likable and unlikable characters that are very well introduced and played out, but the story wasn’t fully played out.
Travis had a secret, yes, but so did his entire family. This secret led to his mother being distant, his father being overworked, and why his sisters decided to move away for college. The last few pages contain the big bombshell being thrown on Travis, but then the book just ends there and does little to shake up the dynamics. Not to give out spoilers, but a bombshell of a secret like that would be way more harmful to a teenage boy who is already suffering from depression.
Chyvonne is a black girl (kudos on a minority MC, but you don’t have to make it THAT big of a deal) who moves in and is actually NICE to Travis. But again, having a love interest is not going heal someone with depression and a tendency to self harm in just a matter of a week or two. He also picks up kirigami (art of paper cutting, which the real name is never mentioned in the book) from a substitute teacher. This art also seems to stem his appetite for cutting himself, nearly overnight!
Overall, everything in this story was rushed and forced. Over months with setbacks and regrouping and professional help this story would have been more believable, but as a novella and left where it is Cutter Boy is an unrealistic story with a very disappointing ending.