________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012


Cuts Like a Knife. (Orca Soundings).

Darlene Ryan.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
109 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (PLB.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0119-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-4598-0120-2 (PLB).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Jeannine Stickle.

**1/2 /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I don't know how far I went before I stopped. My chest burned and it felt like it was packed full of sand. I hung over the handlebars, wheezing until I got my breath.

Okay. Okay, so what did I do now? I figured there was pretty much no chance that Mac was going to answer her phone but I tried her again anyway and like all the times before I got her voice mail. I didn't leave a message this time either. What would I say anyway? Hey, Mac, it's Daniel and you're scaring the crap out of me because I'm afraid you're taking off and never coming back so call me and tell me I'm crazy. Okay?

The only thing I could think of was to find her. Maybe she wasn't gone yet. Maybe somebody knew where she was heading.

Daniel goes on an urgent search for the runaway girl he loves in this engaging, fast-paced high-interest, low-reading level novel. Daniel has liked bold, daring Mac from the time he was introduced to her on her first day of school. She changed schools after her grandmother died, and she moved in with her uncle, someone with whom she doesn't get along. Now, her uncle is selling her grandmother's house which technically belongs to Mac according to her grandmother's will. On top of that, Mac is embarrassed because a popular boy she has a crush on humiliated her at the school dance. When Mac is facing problems, she runs away, and Daniel begins to suspect that she has run away again and sets out to stop her. But when he realizes that she has given away all of her favorite possessions to her friends, he begins to worry that this time she may be planning to kill herself. With some detective work and the help of his spunky and tough mom, he is able to find Mac and stop her suicide attempt just in time.

     Cuts Like a Knife deals realistically with the issues at hand, especially Mac's depression. In the novel, Daniel mentions that a friend of Mac's, Shannon, had noticed cuts on Macís arms and reported them to the guidance councilor. Mac insisted they were not self-inflicted and gave a viable excuse for them. She then ended her friendship with Shannon. Daniel had believed the excuse until he begins to suspect Mac's disappearance is a suicide attempt. At the end of the novel, he realizes that Mac will no longer be his friend after he stopped her attempted suicide, but he knows that it was worth sacrificing his friendship to save her life.

     The characters in Cuts Like A Knife are colourful and, for the most part, character building is not sacrificed for the sake of a fast-paced story. The characters are likeable and easy to relate to, especially Daniel and his quirky and sweet mom. The interesting characters, fast pace of the novel, and compelling story are sure to keep both male and female readers interested. Cuts Like A Knife is a recommended purchase for public and school libraries that collect high-interest low-reading level books.


Jeannine Stickle received her MLIS from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. and is working in a library in Eugene, OR.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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