Monday, March 2, 2015

Cut Me Free

Title:  Cut Me Free
Author:  J. R. Johansson
Publication Information:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2015. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0374300232 / 978-0374300234

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The city embraces me."

Favorite Quote:  "Maybe we're all hiding more scars under the surface than it seems."

Piper has escaped. She has left behind her abuse filled childhood. Her brother was not so lucky. However, Piper has a chance to start over and wants to do so with a new identity, severing all ties to the past. She hires Cameron, a young man who specializes in this work. Cameron soon becomes more than the hired help. Along the way, she also meets young Sanda, who she fears faces the same threats that Piper herself did. Piper, now known as Charlotte, takes it upon herself to rescue and help Sanda.

They seem to be on a path to freedom, when the notes start to appear. Charlotte's past seems to be catching up to her. Someone seems to know her secrets and threatens her new existence. Is it her abusive parents? Is it Sanda's abuser? Is it someone else and will Charlotte ever find safety?

The story is a fast-paced thriller that keeps you guessing. I did not predict some of the connections that emerge at the end. Some were probably not necessary, but the element of surprise was fun.

The elements of romance exist too. Cameron falls instantly in love with Charlotte and overall is a bit too good to be true. What adds interest to that element of the story is that it tests Charlotte's ability to trust and trustworthy people have been completely lacking in her life. I also appreciate the fact that for the young adult audience, the romance is relatively clean.

Logically, the main character, Piper aka Charlotte, does not ring true. She is a teen runaway. On the one hand are the descriptions of her childhood. She spent the bulk of her life locked up in an attic enduring unspeakable abuse. She has had no schooling other than what her grandmother was able to teach her in a very short time. She has had not exposure to the world at all - no news, no friends, no outside contact, nothing.

At the beginning of the book, she has been on the streets for a while. She has managed to survive and find her way from her parent's home to Philadelphia. Despite her background, she comes across as a mature, street smart young woman. She knows how to find someone to create a new identity for her. She deals rationally and smartly with the man she hires. She can handle the practicalities of life, from registering for school to installing a lock. She seems to have insight into those around her. For example, the statement, "I want to make him tremble with her fear the way I do. To feel the pain and terror he so enjoys causing. But I won't let myself give in to those urges - that is why separates me from him." seems too mature and too insightful.

It doesn't ring true. However, it does not matter. Even understanding the logic gap, the story and Piper draw you in and capture your heart. You want to believe that she has had the courage to learn what she needs and to survive into a "normal" life. So, while you may not believe the characterization, you end up believing in the character, feeling her fears and cheering her successes.

A sympathetic main character, a fast-paced story, and a guessing game all make for an entertaining read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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