Told in finely tuned free verse, this story about self-injury portrays an unusual root cause for cutting: peer pressure.
“So here’s the thing about being Baker Acted,” opens narrator Kenna, referring to a real-life Florida law called the Baker Act, which allows for involuntary psychiatric institutionalization for up to 72 hours. Kenna’s sent straight there when a friend catches her cutting herself in the school bathroom. Kenna’s steamed, because the girl who told on her is a cutter too, as is their whole social circle. Girls compare scars and slits, sharing tips for hiding pins and stealing blades. In what Kenna calls the Sisters of the Broken Glass, girls crowd around at lunch, “looking at my cuts, rubbing my shoulders, / dabbing me with I-feel-so-bad-for-you ointment.” Kenna has no single, specific inner trauma, only various (valid) unhappinesses; she feels like “just a copycutter. / A follower who did it to fit in. / And now I can’t stop.” Now she finds her scars “[p]retty as pink pearls” and craves the adrenaline: Cutting’s “like energy / moving through my body / in waves. // Rushing. / Cleansing.” Despite hipster references (John Green, Tony Hawk, Tumblr, Twitter), the simple characterizations could have made for a generic problem novel, but Kuderick’s keen diction and free-verse technique shine.Readers will devour this exposure of anorexia’s cultural cousin. (author’s note, resources) (Verse fiction. 14-16)