To say that Ruth doesn't have issues in an understatement. Her family is having problems. Her brother keeps running away from home. Her mother is depressed all the time. Her father is verbally abusive towards everyone in the family. Ruth is tired of putting up with all this, but feels that nothing she does can change it. The only thing that makes her feel better is when she cuts herself. The pain that comes from seeing her blood flow gives her a sense of calmness. But even Ruth knows that this wrong, but she can't seem to stop. She tries to hide it from others but someone wearing long sleeves in summer looks suspicious. It finally takes Ruth's admittance that cutting is an addiction that needs to be stopped for her to realize that she can do something to break the cycle that she's been living in.
This was one of the most difficult and painful teen fiction books I have ever read. It was so real, like I was reading an actual account of a teenage cutter. I wish that no one ever has to go through what Ruth did, but I know that there are so many kids who share the same experience. I could not stand Ruth's dad. I believe that verbal abuse is just as bad if not more so than physical abuse as inner scars are slower to heal. There is an explanation as to why he acted that way but I was glad that the story did not portray him unrealistically changing at the end of the book. It was horrifying to read about how Ruth would get a "high" from hurting herself in such a matter. Even worse because she would feel sometimes that she deserved it. I think that it was very sad that her extended family did not do anything to protect the kids from their abusive father. Ruth's recovery did not seem fake, in fact it only made it more realistic because it took her so long to accept help.
Melody Carlson is gifted at bringing touchy subjects like this to life. The subjects in this series are difficult and not ones many Christians like to face. In fact, there are some who think that teens only face these kinds of issues because of a lack of faith. Thus, many teens especially those who are Christians find that they have no one to go to about their problems. This series shows readers what really happens out there, allowing for questions and advice about where to turn for help. I believe this is the first Christian book to mention cutting. There needs to be more books that talk about this subject as there are many people out there who need help.