Review: Cut Both Ways

#ReadingIsResistance

Cut Both Ways
by Carrie Mesrobian

Title: Cut Both Ways
Author: Carrie Mesrobian
Published: 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-234988-0
Publisher: Harper

What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

Home feels like Angus, and it feels like her [Brandy] and I wish I could tell him that – tell both of them that.  (p. 116)

Will Caynes is torn.  Between his upscale mom, and his down and out dad.  Between Brandy and Angus, his best friends and lovers.  Most of all, Will is torn about his sexuality.

I read Cut Both Ways in one overnight sitting.  My tumultuous emotional life keeping me from rest, Will’s struggle kept me engaged.  As I’ve said in other reviews, I identify with the confused.  The not quite one thing, but not quite the other either.  These stories fascinate me not only because I want to see how the characters navigate this in-betweeness but because I identify so closely with their struggles.  Being turned against by people who don’t want to understand, being afraid to be our own in-between selves, that’s my entire life.  The fear is ever-present.  We just want to be accepted by those we love.

As I write this, I keep thinking of the other books I read with bisexual protagonists. Etta in Not Otherwise Specified is the only one who comes to terms with her sexuality.  She finds her strength in owning who she is, a performer who also happens to be bi.  Austin in Grasshopper Jungle and Will in Cut Both Ways, both struggle mightily.

In her Author’s Note, Carrie Mesrobian writes:

Bisexual erasure is the willful disbelief that people can be attracted to both genders, as well as the tendency to emphasize sexual identities in people that fit the observer’s own narrative, e.g. a man who is bisexual is really a gay man in denial; a woman who is bisexual is just doing it for male attention.  Bisexual erasure can be perpetrated by gay or straight people.  (p. 342)

Life is complicated enough without having to battle other people’s prejudices.  Will’s life is certainly complicated by the many lives he has to navigate, and while nothing in the end is resolved for him, he learns life does go on, and the complications will work themselves out.  Eventually.

#readingisresistance is a collaboration between readers and book bloggers who believe in the activism of reading; especially in the current political climate. Reading enriches, teaches, and allows us to experience the lives of others. It leads us to understanding. It forces us to confront the hard questions, and asks us to engage with the world in a way which leads to change. Join the resistance, read.

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