OT: 2 off-topic requests for book ideas

Ika blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Tue Sep 21 13:06:29 EDT 2004

Deborah asked, and Hallie answered:

>>Requestor 2 asks 'can you think of any middle grade or YA books about
cutting (either with razorblades or with anything else) or about other
self-injury methods that are used as an emotional coping mechanism?'

> I knew this rang a major bell, though all I've done is notice the title
and look it up - no idea if it's any good or not.  _Cut_, by Patricia

I've read it. It's a very bog-standard example of a problem novel: girl
goes into psychiatric hospital, refuses to admit she has a problem, admits
she has a problem, gets better (probably in contrast to another girl gets
worse or dies, but I forget because it was so similar to every other
problem novel I've ever read). I suspect the good self-harm novels are
mostly yet to be written. (Jacqueline Wilson should write one.)

I used to cut myself and 'Cut' didn't make me have that awful/wonderful
'that's it!' feeling, so I don't know how helpful it would be to a current
self-harmer (assuming this is one of the things your requestor has in
mind). I'm sure there have been books that *have* made me squirm or helped
me in this regard, but I can't bring any of them out of my brain just now
(ooh, apart from Charles Morgan burning himself in Witch Week, as
mentioned). So I'm going to have to identify with your requestor and wait
with bated breath for the list's recommendations, I think.

The trouble is, for me, that I think the books I find/found most useful in
terms of providing emotional resources tend to be the ones that address a
tricky topic obliquely or only in passing, rather than turning them into a
Problem on which the plot hinges. So my top recommendation would probably
be Jaclyn Moriarty's *Finding Cassie Crazy*, which has a brief discussion
of when, whether and how it's okay to hurt yourself. It's just stunning -
partly because Jaclyn Moriarty is genius omg, and partly because it's
tucked away in a long, complex and lovely book.

Love, Ika

PS: On the other hand, I collect eating disorder books, so if your
requestor is including anorexia/bulimia in hir definition of self-injury,
I have a few recommendations handy there.

PPS: Someone (sorry, I've forgotten who) mentioned a book with a girl
cutting herself in the school toilets, which reminded me of Elizabeth
Wurtzel's *Prozac Nation*: not exactly YA, and not a novel, and I'm not
sure if I'd recommend it, but there's certainly a lot of cutting in it.

"He had embarked upon a death wish-fulfilment roller coaster"
- Ruth Rendell, Diamond Dagger Award winner
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