Archive for the ‘Cutting’ Category

There are books that you don’t put down because you are obligated to read them, either because of a Positiveschool assignment or a journal review, which was the case with the book I read before Positive: A Memoir. Then there are the books you don’t put down because they are so good or so absorbing you want to/need to keep reading, which is the case with Paige Rawl’s story of the middle school bullying she faced and overcame because of her HIV+ status.

At the age of three, Paige and her mother were diagnosed HIV+. Her mother contracted it through Paige’s father and passed it on to her. Their lives would never be the same. There was the regimen of pills to counteract the HIV,  and pills to  moderate the depression and loss of appetite caused by the medication. But that was their lives and Paige knew nothing different. To her, her disability or illness was no different than someone with asthma or allergies. So when she mentioned it to her best friend, Yasmine, in passing (“everyone has something”) the reaction was so unexpected. Within minutes, this knowledge was spread to other students who lost no time in ridiculing her, calling her Ho and PAID, telling her she has AIDS and making life miserable.

We all know the impact of bullying on teens. We read it in the newspapers all the time. Teen suicide is on the rise. Cutting is becoming more prevalent. It was no different with Paige. She went through all these emotions. We also know that schools are ill equipped to counteract bullying, as was Paige’s school. One counselor told her to ‘just don’t tell anyone you’re HIV+”. Another told her “to cut the drama”. She was unable to get satisfaction through our legal system as well, unable to get a trial in order to make her situation public.

Luckily for Paige, she was able to overcome this. She had a very supportive mother and some great friends who stood by her.

Listen, in my mind, bullying doesn’t even have to be directed at a person. Even commenting amongst ourselves is a form of bullying. If you see an effeminate man and make comments to your co-workers, that’s a form a bullying. If you see a man dressed in women’s clothing and whisper, that’s a form of bullying, only because you are not seeing what’s inside that person and you’re denigrating him. And what’s the next step you might take? Openly commenting?

Positive: A Memoir is a low key, eye opening book. Paige is the exception to the rule. She ultimately chose to be an anti-bullying activist and tell people her story. Most young adults aren’t able to make that leap. Most suffer alone, afraid to tell an adult or having told someone, watch as nothing is done, no or minimal action taken.

With an Introduction by Jay Asher and a list of resources and facts at the end, Positive: A Memoir is a quietly powerful book.

Read Full Post »

Kenna is Bakered Acted–after being found deliberately cutting herself in the school bathroom she isKissOfBrokenGlass sent for psychiatric evaluation for 72 hours at Adler Boyce Pediatric Stabilization Facility, aka Attaboy,

In this novel-in-verse, Kenna describes her roommate, Donya, rail thin Skylar and cute Jag, both patients and several doctors and nurses. She describes how she started cutting to fit in, always feeling less loved by her mother than her perfect sister Avery. She describes her love for her little brother, Sean. She details why another student, Tara, turned her in to the principal…not necessarily for altruistic reasons.

Kiss of Broken Glass is a compelling novel, in part because it is well written. While not graphic, it gets its point across, the beginnings of cutting, the need to keep doing it, that fact that three days at Attaboy isn’t going to change much…but then again it might be a small start.

The second reason Kiss of Broken Glass is compelling is that it is written from personal experience. In the Author’s Note, Ms. Kiderick tells readers that her daughter was a cutter, exposed to this as early as sixth grade, a statistic I don’t want to even contemplate. Her daughter was caught and as she says “involuntarily committed under Florida’s Baker Act.”

Cut by Patricia McCormick was the first book I read on cutting and quite the book it was. It may very well set the standard by which other books are judged. However, since then there is Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and now Kiss of Broken Glass, which certainly holds its own on this topic.

Read Full Post »

I’m on a roll here. The last three books I read are about:

1. Driving a car off a bridge, killing the passenger and leaving the seventeen year old driver with serious injuries and amnesia.LoudAwake


2. A teenager shooting himself in the school library in front of his former girlfriend (they broke up 2 days earlier), leaving her emotionally scarred, and

3. A teenager cutting herself.KissOfBrokenGlass

I can’t imagine what’s next. Should I reread Wintergirls and read about eating disorders? I probably need something more upbeat, don’t you think?

Read Full Post »

Susan is the adventurous one. She’ll see a book cover that interests her, read the firstDrBird page or two and decide whether or not the book is worth reading. Me? I typically take my cues from reviews or favorite authors. So, it was odd that I’d just pick a book from Books of Wonder and decide to buy it based on the title and cover. But that’s exactly what I did and it was a good choice. (The other book I picked was from an author I like and it was somewhat disappointing.) Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos was a rewarding, humorous, serious book.

James Whitman, no relation to Walt, does have an affinity for Walt’s poetry and cites it often. James is a tree hugger, when he gets depressed. The shape, the bark, the roundness, the texture oftentimes makes him feel somewhat better. And James does have things to be depressed about. His father, the Brute, and his mother, the Banshee, are abusive. They’ve kicked his sister Jorie out of the house, ostensibly because she beat up another girl at school. But Jorie’s always been a problem.

When James needs to vent or think things out, he sees Dr. Bird, an imaginary pigeon therapist who knows all about James, as Dr. Bird is in his mind. Dr. Bird will walk in circles, coo at him, stick his beak under his wing and stare at him with his big black eye. This, too, seems to help James cope.

Like all high school juniors, James has anxiety…about school, about girls (especially Beth), about life, about his sister. Unfortunately, his anxiety extends far beyond that of most teens.

Mr. Roskos wonderfully handles the issue of anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and cutting. He tells kids it’s not bad to have anxiety but too much is no good. He lets kids know that it’s OK to need someone independent to talk to about problems. He also lets kids know that they don’t necessarily have to live with abuse.

It’s Mr. Roskos’ combination of the serious and the absurd (James’ friend Derek being the absurd…I won’t tell you why) that caught my attention and kept me reading. There are some books that are ‘in your face’ about teen issues and there are those that get the point across more subtly, as is the case with Dr. Bird.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets. It’s probably low on most people’s radar but I hope this may bring it up a notch.

Read Full Post »