Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.
Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?
Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.
Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.[/note]
[note note_color=”#BFD1D1″ text_color=”#ffffff”]I received this book for free from HarperCollins for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.[/note]
First sentence: “You get used to it, divorce.”
Well, if you’ve come here looking for a reason to read Cut Both Ways, you’re in the wrong place. Though, I suggest you stay and listen to me talk about the many disappointments of this book.
From a quick read of the synopsis, you expect this book about bisexuality, right? Because here’s a teenage guy who’s first kiss is from his best friend, Angus, and doesn’t exactly hate it, and then he meets Brandy, a sophomore girl who catches his attention. He’s having conflicting feelings, so is he gay? Straight? Or bisexual? I wanted to see Will explore his sexuality, but this book was poorly executed.
THESE THINGS WERE GOOD, BUT…
It tries to portray bisexuality, but it’s poorly done.
“Bisexual” is not said once in this book. That’s a big issue we need to discuss. Carrie Mesrobian writes in her author’s note that there’s no reference to the term because Will doesn’t consider bisexuality as something he can be, and that mind frame is an example of bisexual erasure, which is a belief that someone cannot be attracted to both sex (and have to either be straight or gay).
Let’s stop and talk about how the author’s note is complete bullshit because it’s just a bunch of excuses. Yes, Will may not identify with being bisexual BUT he could’ve easily gone, “nah, I’m not bi” somewhere in the book, and that could’ve brought a discussion about bisexual erasure, and why he doesn’t identify with that.
The book seems to enforce the idea that you either have to be straight or gay, and that there is no in the middle when you’re trying to figure out your sexuality. What kind of message is that? Isn’t this book supposed to open a discussion for teens that bisexuality exists? By not acknowledging bisexuality and excusing the lack of it as a commentary on bisexual erasure, the author is perpetuating that very idea—bisexual erasure.
I don’t need Will’s sexuality to be labeled. I just want a healthy discussion where bisexuality isn’t hidden away like an illegitimate child of a married politician who pretends the child doesn’t exist. We should not be perpetuating the very thing we’re trying not to do—erasing bisexuality.
It portrays sex in an honest way, but it doesn’t add much to the story.
This book shows that teens have sex! It’s something that isn’t being hidden away as if teens don’t actually do it. You don’t find that in most YAs, so it’s absolutely refreshing to see one that doesn’t shy away from sex!
Though, it doesn’t really add much to the story. Sex is fine, but not when it enforces the idea that bisexual people are cheaters, which is not okay. I wish that Will explored his sexuality in a way that didn’t make him a cheater.
- Nothing really happens, which I guess is similar to life.
You can pretty much skip parts of this book and not miss any important moments.
Cut Both Ways is like a day-in-the-life book, showing what Will gets up to in his life. That’s fine, but why is it so boring? See, here is what happens a lot in the book: Will thinks about sex; has sex; doesn’t want to tell his mom about his dad because she’ll say “I knew it”; helps his dad renovate; works at a dinner; etc, etc. Why is that boring? It could’ve been interesting if, y’know, Will had a personality, which he doesn’t have at all. And the ending is just open ended in a way that doesn’t show Will has grown or learned anything about his sexuality.
- I wanted to like these characters, but they were underdeveloped and devoid of any personality.
How am I supposed to like and enjoy these characters when they don’t feel like three-dimensional individuals?
All of them lack so much character development. They felt like bare clichés. Will is the absolutely worst because he was a bland main character. A cardboard box has a better personality than Will. He doesn’t grow or learn about his sexuality by the end of the book, and that is incredibly disappointing.
We don’t get to know a lot about Angus, other than he’s gay and in a band, nor of Brandy, who is incredibly insecure and has issues with her mother. Neither of these things about those two important characters in Will’s life were ever really developed. Their purpose was to have sex with Will and make him question his sexuality, and that’s about it. We don’t get a discussion about his sexuality with them. What is with that?
You’d think Cut Both Ways would be good, but when you get down to read it, it’s anything but good. Cut Both Ways is boring and continues to add to the stigma against bisexuality, and that isn’t okay. This book should not be recommended as a book that portrays bisexuality in a raw and wonderful way. The only reason this book should be recommended is for people to discuss about the poor representation of bisexuality and what we like to see in books that tackle on this topic.