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cut both waysWhat: Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Who: HarperCollins

When: September 1st 2015

How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

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.


When I finished Cut Both Ways I was shaking. Shaking in fucking anger, I tell you. And then I thought to myself: what did I just read? Followed closely by: why did I just read this?

For some reason, I thought, shortly thereafter: I shall rate this book Two Stars.

Now, I’m thinking: what? Why two stars when it had me shaking in fury. When it had absolutely no point. When the main character was an absolute asshole. I don’t know what past-Chiara was thinking, but I’ll go with the two stars because I stick to my ratings (even if they’re incomprehensible).

What I liked about Cut Both Ways:

  • Will. I did. I quite liked him. The way he looked at things was quite funny, and I found myself attractively laugh-snorting at a few of his quips. But that is where the liking ends. Although I’ll get to that in a bit.
  • Angus. Cute as shit gay musician that owns a piece of my heart for being so god damn adorable.
  • The sex. I was proud of the author and publisher for not erasing both hetero and m/m sex in this book. It was lovely.

That’s it.

What I disliked about Cut Both Ways:

  • Will. He was an insufferable asshole most of the time. He had absolutely no concern for anyone but himself. I’m almost certain that under the definition of ‘selfish’, Cut Both Ways is sitting there in all its awful Will glory. Asshat.
  • The plot. In way of which there was no plot. I got to read about house renovations that I could not give TWO SHITS ABOUT. I got to read about Will cutting tomatoes and frying potatoes that I could not give TWO SHITS ABOUT. I got to read about some guy who went to Sweden and got it off with cousins or some crap that I could not give TWO SHITS ABOUT. There was just so much pointless crap in this novel it was actually painful.
  • The bisexual representation. If you’re bi, that does not mean you want both a girlfriend and a boyfriend. It does not mean you therefore cheat on both a girl and a guy because “you want both of them but not together – forever”. It means you’re sexually attracted to both males and females. Simple, if you ask me. Sure, everyone can be attracted to more than one person, but you don’t need to be completely screwing with their emotions by being with both of them at the same time. And I just feel like Cut Both Ways is giving out the completely wrong message about what being bisexual actually means. It’s not about having both a guy and a girl to have sex with. This pissed me off to no end.
  • The lack of bisexual representation. Yes, Will is bi. No, the word ‘bisexual’ is never used in this book. The author said that this was to give an example of bisexual erasure (which is a thing, by god is it a thing). But really? You don’t think it’s worth letting Will come to terms with the fact that he’s not hetero with Brandy and he’s not gay with Angus? That he’s simply bisexual with both of them? You don’t think it’s worth HELPING TO ERADICATE the bisexual erasure that we’re confronted with on a daily basis? Yeah, I am so not fucking appreciative of this.
  • Homophobia/biphobia (I don’t differentiate here, even though they are different because it wasn’t made clear which aspect of Will’s relationship with Angus was the catalyst for the reaction). Now, this is a bit odd to include because parents and step-parents are homophobic/biphobic so it’s not a gripe I had with the book, per se, more with the characters. At least it made me feel something, I suppose. After I finished the book, I went onto Goodreads and raged a whole bunch (and swore a lot) about how I feel about homophobia and biphobia in relation to parents. Which is basically: if you have a kid, you can’t expect them to pop out conforming to our society’s norms of heterosexuality and cisgenderism. Just no, okay? If you cannot accept your child no matter who they are then you’re not fit to have a child at all.

All in all I was really freaking disappointed in Cut Both Ways because I thought we’d finally have a great pro-bisexual book for the YA genre – from a guy’s perspective. But nope. We got a shit storm of crap instead. Joy of joys.

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

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Posted on: September 23, 2015 • By: Chiara

18 Responses to My Likes and Dislikes of Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

  1. This sounds insufferably infuriating. UGHHHHH. I mean, horrible character aside (although I hate reading them, they seem to come up in books a lot???) just the fact that there’s no real plot makes me angry. And the misrepresentation of bisexuality like that. o.O *slowly crosses this one off TBR* I don’t need this kind of book in my life, tbh.

    • Chiara says:

      Very insufferable and infuriating. I was seriously shaking with anger when I finished. You’re not missing out by not having this book in your life, that’s for sure!

  2. Tiffany says:

    That sucks. Sorry to hear about how frustrating that book must have been. I’ve had experiences with books with no plot and it really makes it hard to fall in love with the story cause you’re just waiting for something to happen the whole time. It sounds like the representation of bisexuality here was bullshit. Although the main character might legitimately be feeling conflicted, bisexuality does not mean you want to be with more than one person as you pointed out. Even though I’m straight I’m still a huge LGBT rights supporter and it’s sad that there aren’t more bisexual characters in books.

    • Chiara says:

      It certainly did. Boring books do definitely make it harder to fall in love with them, especially when there are a lot of other problems in the book, too. The representation of bisexuality really was awful in this book, and we definitely need more bisexual characters in books!

  3. Beth says:

    Oh, this is such a shame. I think maybe it could have been wonderful – the synopsis sounds great, for one thing – but if the characters are horrible there’s really no way to save the story. The selfishness of having two relationships at once is bad enough for me, but the way that bisexuality is used almost as an excuse (or at least, that’s how your review makes it seem) for it is just unacceptable. Books like this make me sad.
    (But well done for writing such an interesting and balanced review, Chiara!)
    Beth x

    • Chiara says:

      I know. I really wanted this book to be absolutely awesome, or at least good, and it was definitely not either of those things :/

      Will’s bisexuality wasn’t technically an ‘excuse’ for his cheating, but his confusion about his sexuality was. Because he went through the motions of “when I’m with my girlfriend I’m straight but when I’m with Angus I’m gay” it was as if the two were completely separate, when really he needed to realise he was bi, and decide who he wanted to be with.

      Thanks, dear!

  4. Haha, OMG I loved your honest review. All those things you mentioned sound maddening, as well as the stuff about house renovations and frying potatoes… HA HA HA !

  5. I can just imagine you slamming down the book once you finish it, XD. (Although you mention the non-erasure of sex, and that’s fabulous, but what I REALLY want to know is: was the sex hot? Kidding, kidding.) I’m quite interested in the debate of whether sexuality labels ought to be explicitly said in books — personally, I’m writing a fantasy with a bisexual character, and the term is never explicitly said. The concept is touched upon, but I would love to hear your thoughts on whether sexuality needs to be named in all fiction.

    • Chiara says:

      I 100% would have, if it had not been an ebook. I was NOT PLEASED.

      The non-erasure of the sex was fabulous! Especially since it was hot (you asked ;D).

      I have a lot of thoughts on whether or not labels need to be used (and now because you asked, I am going to write a blog post about it!). But I felt that it was really unrealistic in this book that the word ‘bisexual’ was never used. Will never even questioned his sexuality, except in terms of gay and straight. And I felt like that took the bi erasure topic too far because it felt forced. It’s like he didn’t know that it existed…

  6. Oh oh! All I want to ask now is this. Is this book still alive, or have you shredded it into pieces?
    I hate books that portray sexuality in a wrong way and brings across the inaccurate message, Everything I learned about the LGBT community, I learned it through books and movies. So I think media and fiction has a huge responsibility to broadcast the right message in regards to this topic. No messages is better than a wrong message.
    Wonderful review Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      It was on my Kindle, so there was no shredding, haha XD I didn’t want to hurt my Kindle!

      I was really very disappointed in this book, and I think that books like these can send the wrong message out sometimes, especially if someone is learning or looking to learn. :(

      Thanks, lovely <3

  7. So I read the synopsis and was SO SURE this was going to be a lovely book in which the MC goes back and forth between two people and finally ends up realising that he is poly/bi, and then he tells both Angus and Brandy and they all end up getting together and having a healthy, happy, poly relationship.

    (Obviously, I can be slightly delusional at times, but hey, a girl can hope!)

    Two things I like, though: 1. ADORABLE GAY MUSICIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my god, I’d read this book JUST for that. This is my dream character, tbh. 2. Honest portrayal of hetero + m/m sex. (Though I have to echo Alyssa – the real question is whether the sex was hot.) (I’m JOKING, stop looking at me like that. ;))

    Thank you so much for your wonderful review, Chiara – and here’s to hopefully better books with cute musicians and bi representation, yeah?

    • Chiara says:

      THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SUCH A GOOD FREAKING BOOK WHAT EVEN. I wish it had ended like that, to be honest.

      Angus is really a very adorable gay musician, so I was SUPER pissed that Will treated him so badly. The honest portrayal of the hetero and m/m sex was pretty on point. I was glad that neither were brushed aside (especially that the m/m sex was in just as much detail as the hetero. When they’re different in the SAME book I get pretty pissed). The sex was hot ;)

      No problem, dear! I REALLY HOPE SO.

  8. CHEATING?! Um, heck NO! No matter what the context, I am NOT okay with it, especially if it’s used as a plot device to represent bisexuality. Even the IDEA of it is pissing me off–I can’t imagine how reading the actual book will make me feel. *insert angry snort emoji here*

  9. Romi says:

    Aah, so another poor representation of bisexuality? I think you can guess fairly easily how I feel about that, Chiara. And I mean, that whole “reason” for cheating is just… poor and inexcusable. I wouldn’t be able to support a character who did that and, also, probably wouldn’t be able to get through a novel about them. That would have really been a level too much for me.

    Your comment on being fit to have a child is… so there. I really agree with that and it just makes one think- how many people even consider that? How many people don’t consider it because they expect the people they make and bring up to follow their own lead and feelings and be this clone of themselves? It’s awful to think about, really.

    And seriously. Having a boyfriend and a girlfriend because you’re bi? REALlY?! It makes me so angry that this character could even consider that to be a thing, let alone a reasonable thing. AAH.

    • Chiara says:

      YEP. I was disappointed in bi representation YET AGAIN. Yeah, I kind of continued with the book just to SEE if it improved, but it really didn’t. In any way.

      It really is awful about, because their default is cishet, and it breaks my heart. I just. HATE. It. So much. I can rage for an endless amount of time on this topic, to be honest.

      I KNOW. I’m just like … wow. What a way to perpetuate the whole “bisexual people are cheaters” thinking that people have (undeservedly, of course).

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