Young Adult

Review – Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

CBWCut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian
Publisher: HarperCollins (1st Sept 2015)

It took Will Caynes seventeen years to have his first kiss. He should be ecstatic…except that it was shared with his best friend, Angus, while they were both drunk and stoned. Will’s not gay, but he didsort of enjoy whatever it was he felt with Angus. Unsettled by his growing interest in Angus, Will avoids his friend, and even starts dating a sophomore, Brandy. When he’s hooking up with her, he’s totally into it, so he must be straight, right? Then why does he secretly keep going back to Angus?

Confusing as Will’s feelings are, they’re a welcome distraction from his complicated home life. His father has started drinking earlier each day when he should be working on what seem like never-ending house renovations. And his mom—living in a McMansion with her new husband—isn’t much help, just buying Will a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need. Neither feels like much of a parent—which leaves Will on his own in figuring things out with his girlfriend and best friend. He loves them both, but deciding who to be with will ultimately hurt someone. Himself probably the most.

Well, upon reading the blurb of Cut Both Ways and seeing the glorious cover, I immediately wanted to read it. As there is a huge lacking of GLBT YA literature, I wouldn’t want to miss Cut Both Way for the world. From the blurb, I expected an honest yet tender book about a young teenager battling his sexuality as well as surviving the tug of war between his divorced parents.

Let me get this out, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really enjoy Cut Both Ways because I felt like there wasn’t much going on in the book – Will’s life as a high school senior who has never been kissed, has a gay best friend and his lack of closeness with his family – and I felt that the plot was pretty nonexistent. I didn’t know what was going on, all I thought when I was reading it was “What happens to Will?” and “Who will end up with him?” or even “Will there be a massive conflict where Brandy finds out about Will and Angus? Or vice versa?”.

There were too many plot holes in the book and towards the end of the book, I felt dissatisfied, uneasy and above all, upset that the book ended the way it did. There were a lot of loose ends after I’ve flipped the last page and I felt that a few more chapters could have done the book justice and given readers (me) better closure. The ending was too abrupt, rushed and it left me completely in limbo.

So it’s a book on bisexuality. Yes, Will had his first kiss with his best friend, Angus, who is gay. OK. Confused because he’s certainly not gay, he sleeps with Brandy, a girl who happens to be babysitting his neighbours’ children. Well, expect the inevitable which is clear as day! Because yes, you’re right! Will cheats on her with Angus! What I couldn’t deal with it was that he uses Brandy for sex and he doesn’t really bother about his relationship with her and he is just horny. Period. He’s selfish and emotionally detached.

I felt that the book didn’t tackle the main issue of the book, which was self-discovery. If I compare Will from the start of the book and Will at the end of the book, the only difference is that he’s no longer a virgin and he’s become a more despicable character. In my opinion, the book skirted around the issue of bisexuality because it’s a difficult and very malleable topic to talk about, let alone write about, just like how fluid bisexuality is.

I would have enjoyed this book more if there were more scenes where Will actually explores his sexuality and attraction to members of both sexes. The book is easy to read, almost too easy to read but Carrie Mesrobian’s writing as Will’s voice complements his feelings as he blindly ploughs through life and deals with his problems by running away or being emotionally blunt. I liked reading about Will and Angus’s relationship but I felt that Angus, a character who is such a pivotal in the book, was given the back seat. He is the reason why Will is unsure of his sexuality because of the kiss they shared but I was quite disappointed with how the book ended for Will and him.

I’d like to thank HarperCollins US for sending me a copy of Cut Both Ways in exchange for an honest review. Cut Both Ways is out on hardcover and eBook now.


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