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Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson • Magan Reviews

book cover from goodreads for Cut Me Free by J.R. JohanssonCut Me Free by J.R. Johansson [twitter • website]
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 304
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: child abuse, changing identities, escaping abuse, thriller
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Though Charlotte is able to escape her abusers (her parents) and relocate to another city, once she begins to settle she begins receiving mysterious boxes with creepy messages inside. Could her parents have possibly tracked her down or has someone else discovered her secrets?

• • •

How does one review a book that was brilliantly written but scared the bejesus out of them? I felt shaky and scared and angry while I was reading Cut Me Free. I tried to skip to the end to give myself some piece of mind; I hovered over the Goodreads app, contemplating whether or not I should look up spoilers because I was soooo anxious.

That’s a lot of emotions, huh?

Well, it’s all true. Charlotte was raised in the attic of her biological parent’s house. She and her brother’s identity was known to no one other than the two people who abused them and held them hostage. They’re sickening and grotesque and some of the worst people I’ve ever met in my reading life. The good news? Charlotte escapes. She weaves a path far, far away from the detestable souls she was unfortunately born to and tries to start over. She hires Cam to change her identity, provide the necessary official paperwork, and erase her past.

But things don’t come easy for Charlotte. She begins to see a young girl out and about with a fatherly figure who is showing obvious signs of abuse. For reasons I won’t go into, Charlotte feels like she has to save this girl. A whole series of events unfolds that really left me feeling unsettled and on guard. This story, Charlotte’s story, is multi-faceted: It’s her journey to begin anew, but interwoven is a thriller story as she begins to receive mysterious boxes.

I admire the way Cut Me Free made me feel, but maybe I walked away a little more paranoid than I began. There were times when, sure, this story really had things that may not have seemed plausible — for instance, how does a girl who has no education and socialization skills logically escape and instinctually know how to flee across the country — but ultimately, knowing whether or not Charlotte was going to be okay far outweighed the practical side of me that questions things. (And I think that’s a pretty big deal.)

As far as thrillers go, I was positively hooked. I really try to focus on my job during the day and taking care of my daughter when she’s awake, but by golly, I wanted to hire a babysitter and play hooky. I feel it’s my responsibility to admit the following to you: If you are really sensitive to abuse and neglect, I caution you to tread lightly with Cut Me Free. My anger was through the roof and Foster Mama Magan wanted to rip someone to shreds for not intervening here. (I actually read a few reviews that said the details weren’t graphic enough and my jaw couldn’t have dropped further because yes, things are told in a careful manner, but you’re quite capable of putting all the details together.)

Cut Me Free was an extremely intense story told quite well; it took me on an emotional, heart-pounding journey. I hope you’ll consider giving it a go, too.

**Sidebar: Have any of you read Room? Those same intense, crazy feelings I had while reading Room are what reappeared while reading Cut Me Free.

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February 23, 2015 - 11:29 am

Magan - Yay, Lori! I’m so glad you’re interested. It’s insane and I think as a parent, it makes it even more intense to read. I hope you enjoy it!

February 23, 2015 - 11:29 am

Magan - Emma, yes! Definitely keep an eye out for more work from here. I checked out her author page on Goodreads and she seems to write a LOT of thriller/mystery. I will check out more of her work for sure. 😉

February 23, 2015 - 11:26 am

Magan - Brianna, you don’t have to love the writing of Room to love Cut Me Free. The same intensity, however, is what made me make the comparison. Emma Donoghue didn’t write Cut Me Free so I think that change alone would make CMF more appealing to you. 🙂

February 23, 2015 - 11:24 am

Magan - Alexa, uncomfortable to the MAX. I seriously wanted to just skip to the end so bad. (In fact: I don’t know how I had enough willpower to NOT.) I hope you give it a go. 🙂

February 15, 2015 - 12:24 am

Alexa S. - Oh man, oh man. Cut Me Free sounds so intense! It would be a read that would make me uncomfortable, but I also wouldn’t be able to stop myself from finding out what happens next. I feel like it would definitely make me think about a lot of things, and I can only imagine how you felt reading it!

February 14, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Brianna - I read Room, but didn’t love it. The premise was compelling, but I’m not a fan of Emma Donoghue’s writing. She mostly writes lesbian fiction, which is fine, but she’s got a very slow, slogging writing style, in my opinion.

February 12, 2015 - 1:23 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - Ah! This sounds way too intense for me (as I think maybe we discussed on Twitter?) but I’m glad it was worth the stressing for you. It sounds like this author is definitely one to keep my eye on.

February 12, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Lori - This is new to me! I’m adding it on Goodreads right now because you definitely have me intrigued!

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