Thursday, March 19, 2015

{Mini Reviews} Cut | Sold ~ Patricia McCormick

Background & Backstory
The very day after making my March TBR video, I decided that I didn't want to read all of the books on that list, so I went to my school's librarian to ask for some recommendations. Because she thinks my reading is severely lacking in historical fiction, she recommended Sold and then Cut, since the book is also by Patricia McCormick, an author that comes highly recommended from her.

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
There isn't a huge possibility of me reading another book by Patricia McCormick mostly because I have a ton of other books on my TBR that need attending to before I pick up another one by her. She seems like a bit of hit-or-miss author considering I loved Sold and hated Cut, so I think I would have to be pretty certain that I was intrigued by the premise of whatever other book I read by her in the future.

Rating: 75%
Series: None
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Disney Hyperiion
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Page Count: 263
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. 

He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt-then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.

Lakshmi's life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother's words-Simply to endure is to triumph-and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision-will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life? 

Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
That was beautiful.

What I enjoyed in Sold was its lyrical qualities stemming from the book's free verse. At times, pages were full-on poetry and at others, it was more narrative-style. I sped through Sold even faster than Cut, mostly because of how hard-hitting it is and how invested (unlike with Cut) I was in the story.

After I finished Sold, I deliberated over whether I should give it 5 or 4 stars because there was no singular element I disliked and I enjoyed the story and its elements as a whole. What made the decision for me was the timeline Sold focused on. Because Lakshmi's story is so much like many other girls who have unfortunately been trafficked into prostitution, her story from start to finish has been told in different words many times. I would have liked a little more information about Lakshmi's life after as well as if she ever found out what became of her family. 

In short, I loved how McCormick treated the topic of trafficking with such brutal honesty without making it overly graphic. We got a clear picture of the simple wants and needs of her family as well as how desperate they were for the money. Then the moment Lakshmi was sold for the first time was quite horrific and described well. I appreciated how the author kept her strong and determined to get out once she saw the disease and the consequences of "living" in the brothel.

Conclusion: Sold was a beautifully executed glimpse into the not-so-glamorous world of child prostitution featuring a strong female protagonist that helped put my own life into perspective.

Rating: 30%
Series: None
Genre:  Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Cutting, Fiction, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Push
Publication Date: February 1, 2002
Page Count: 151
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: "A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next." Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she's at Sea Pines, a "residential treatment facility" filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn't want to have anything to do with them. She doesn't want to have anything to do with anyone. She won't even speak. But Callie can only stay silent for so long...

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
Why the heck did I just spend the past two hours of my life reading this book? 

To be honest, I didn't understand the point of Cut. I get it, Callie has cut in the past, was caught, and landed herself in a rehabilitation facility. Her silence will, for some reason unbeknownst to readers even after they finish the novel, harm her if she doesn't speak up. What I gleamed from the synopsis was the identical story I received from reading 151 pages. Firstly, a synopsis is not supposed to span the ENTIRE story. Secondly, the execution and delivery of the premise was terrible. 

Cutting is a serious social and mental issue that more people should be knowledgeable and aware of. I have known of friends that cut and have been depressed, but the way McCormick presented it was almost like a joke. Let's give Callie a depressing backstory about why she cuts, throw in Sea Pines setting, and make her silent.... PRESTO, you have a novel. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way about the book, it received a 3.74 average on Goodreads out of almost 40,000 ratings. My general rule is to not pick up a book with anything less than a 3.8 mostly because my reading taste usually parallel's the general populace's opinion, so I wouldn't have picked it up if my librarian hadn't recommended it.

Plot - The story didn't exactly go anywhere until the last third of the book, and even then, we didn't get a solid conclusion because Callie didn't even reveal why she felt the need to stay silent. It felt as if the last 50 pages or even a whole other book was abruptly cut off.  

Characters - As what would usually be expected with realistic, social issues fiction, Cut is told in first person so readers can get a deeper understanding of the character's motive. However, I felt as if, even by the end of the book, that I didn't know Callie and subsequently, didn't care about her. What I found interesting was the fact that the entire novel was Callie telling her therapist everything that happened to her, so the use of "you" was frequent throughout.

Pacing - Like I mentioned previously, the plot wasn't going anywhere up until page 100, so I was extremely bored most of the time. The events going on around Callie made the story intriguing and is what spurred me to keep reading as well as the book coming on my librarian's high recommendation. 

Conclusion: In my opinion, the execution and delivery of the premise coupled with the protagonist's voice is what made Cut a boring, slightly confusing read.

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