Estelle: Last Cut by Wren Handman

Last Cut by Wren HandmanLast Cut by Wren Handman
Publication Date: Republished April 1, 2013
Publisher: James Lorimer
Pages: 143
Targeted audience: Young adult
Keywords: high school, acting, secrets
Format read: ARC from NetGalley via Publisher.

Summary: Desperate to have a legitimate acting job to put on her resume, Caitlin lies about her age in order to obtain a role — creating a domino effect of made up stories to keep the charade going.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you may have noticed I’m not exactly the type of reader to miss out on a title just because the author or the publishing company isn’t familiar to me.

Even the three reviews of Goodreads (poor ones) did not dissuade me from reading Last Cut. I thought it might be Don’t Tell Mom the Baby-sitter’s Dead-esque — a schemer who might mean well but you know her actions will only blow up in her face. Or to take it down a notch, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, where a character has to keep up with a double life of sorts.


Last Cut was neither of those. I’m sorry to say. The writing wasn’t terrible; I actually liked the dialogue (the author is a playwright so that may have helped) and even though the premise didn’t grow to be as meaty as it could have been, I thought the story was entertaining enough.

Girl lies, cuts herself off from friends and family, faces unknown challenges in a job she always wanted, and BOOM because of one split second decision everything goes nuts.

Totally reasonable right? Until the ending that kept me whispering obscenities into the night as my husband was sleeping and my cat was laying on my legs. I’ve reached├é┬áthe end of books before where I wanted more for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s because I’m selfish and don’t want to say goodbye. Other times, it’s because there is one plotline that doesn’t seem to have reached any kind of conclusion.

Friends, I was livid and flabbergasted by how the ending cut off, and how I was frantically clicking the button on my Nook for pages that I knew were not there. Funnily enough, the publisher boasts their collection of “books for reluctant readers.” If this is what reluctant readers are picking up, I’m not feeling too confident about their growing love of books.

This easily could have been a fast-paced, fun read with lessons thrown in there. A girl discovers her strength! The self-awareness we sometimes lack and how it affects our relationships with friends and family. A ridiculous slasher flick in the background.

With some tweaking and some sort of understood obligation to give readers a book these deserve to spend their time reading, I probably would have liked this. Instead, I felt the author showed little respect for this main character and the reader. We both deserved more.

This leads me to the question: for you as a reader and/or a reviewer, do you shy away from lesser known books published by lesser known publishers for the chance of a blunder like this one?

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