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.
I’ve read my fair share of LGBTQ+ novels this year and had pretty good luck with them so far. I’ve been loving the YA trend of diversity, so I knew I had to pick up Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian, despite its extremely low ratings on Goodreads. While I usually stray away from books that are lower than 3.50 on Goodreads, I’m grateful that I decided to pick up Cut Both Ways because of the raw, humane way Mesrobian tells the story.
1. MESROBIAN DOESN’T HOLD BACK
Even though I personally haven’t seen many reviews from other readers on Cut Both Ways, I think the reason why the ratings are so low is because people are uncomfortable with the content itself. Our main character Will Caynes starts a relationship with Brandy, but Will finds himself also in a relationship with his best friend Angus. Will engages in sexual relationships with both Brandy and Angus, which is pretty much cheating – although Will isn’t sure if he’s bisexual, homosexual or heterosexual.
Typically, I wouldn’t like or relate to characters who cheat on their partners, but if they acknowledge that what they’re doing is wrong and for a decent reason, I can understand. The way Mesrobian creates Will as a very confused teen is genuinely realistic. Will’s stuck in the middle and is trying to understand who he is by being with both Brandy and Angus.
2. WELL-WRITTEN PLOT
Besides Will trying to figure out his sexual orientation as a high-schooler, he also deals with:
+ divorced parents. His dad is becoming an alcoholic and his mother is a wee bit uptight. Will has to drive back and forth both houses, and there’s always conflict between the two parents.
+ getting a job. I love that Mesrobian includes the struggle that probably most people experience: that working a job is easier than finishing higher education.
+ balancing life activities. Will is a normal teenager. He has to balance not one but two romantic relationships, work, school, and family. I really enjoyed the way Mesrobian executed Will’s life.
3. NOT FOR THE LIGHT-HEARTED
Cut Both Ways is not for the light-hearted. The sexual content is pretty explicit and detailed, but it may also make readers uncomfortable in that there is cheating. However, I think Cut Both Ways is entirely worth the read because of the raw and realistic way Mesrobian wrote Will’s story. While Mesrobian doesn’t explicitly say the word “bisexual” in the Cut Both Ways, I think the story comes close to telling the situation of one that is similar to it.