by Cheryl Rainfield

Westside Books, $16.95, 248 pages

Cheryl Rainfield’s account of a teenage cutter, Scars, is a poignant, fictionalized story based on the author’s own self-harming episodes. Fifteen-year-old Kendra is struggling to recall the identity of her sexual abuser. She has suppressed the memory of the abuse to a point where the only relief she has is self-mutilation. Kendra, who is also struggling with relationship and sexual issues, is fortunate to find support from her therapist and her art teacher. Her parents seem willing to support the therapy sessions, but become reluctant to spend the money on them after her father announces he has lost his job. Kendra’s problems become even worse when she begins to suspect that someone is stalking her.||Kendra’s artistic endeavors are the one thing that she truly enjoys. Her art teacher, her dad, and her friends all consider her uniquely gifted, but her mother, who is a professional artist, can’t imagine Kendra’s unusual style ever being marketable. Then Kendra tries desperately to sell her artwork to pay for therapy  . . . because until she can retrieve the memory of who abused her, she won’t be able to figure out who is stalking her.

Self-mutilation has become a teenage epidemic. Rainfield’s willingness to use her own experience to explore the issue is both brave and lacking. Her dark subject is something many parents and teachers want to understand. Unfortunately, the cognitive and physiological aspects of self-mutilation addictions are not thoroughly explored.

Reviewed by Sheli Ellsworth