Cut Me Free

The stereotypical Freud line is, "Tell me about your mother."  For Piper, this is not a good question to ask.  And "tell me about your father" is even worse.  Because how do you tell someone that your parents kept you and your little brother captive in an attic as playthings for their sadistic torture sessions?

You don't.  Especially when your little brother is dead and you killed the people who did it.

Trust?  What's trust?  Why trust anyone?  Trust will get you nowhere but hurt and dead.  Lies will protect you like the seven padlocks you've got bolted onto your apartment door.

Piper has survived her father's torture closet and a trek across the country to land in Philadelphia.  She's trying to make contact with someone who can give her a new identity.  He's the best, they say.  While she waits in a park for their rendez-vous, she notices a girl.  Young, but very much like herself.  Piper sees things others do not: how the man the little girl is with yanks angrily at her arm, how her sleeve slides up to reveal burn marks and other scars, and the hopeless fear that swirls in her eyes, because she knows no one can save her from this man.  Except Piper.

Even as she warily interacts with the provider of her new identity, Piper plots to rescue the girl and exact vengeance on her torturer.  Meanwhile, Cam (forger extraordinaire) tries to get Piper, now Charlotte, on her feet, even helping her get a job.  This is the part of the book that I didn't like so much--the romance.  It was a bit sappy and even a smidgen uncomfortable, because Cam was very persistent.  I understand the idea was to have Charlotte battle her fears about letting people in close, but a guy who follows you around and gets into trouble on your behalf wouldn't be my first choice.

Other than the romance angle, however, this is spectacularly done in every way.  It was terrifying and haunting and it made me question how many people I know have suffered abuse.  The way Charlotte talks about the Mother and the Father is almost Stephen King-esque, and only adds to their inhumanity.  Just as she becomes slightly comfortable in her new life and new identity, packages start arriving ... addressed to Piper.  Johansson ratchets the tension up higher and higher until I wanted to scream.

There's a lot more going on in the story than I mentioned here, but I don't want to spoil it for you.  Because you know you have to read this.

A magnificent exploration of the darkness of humanity coupled with the amazing power of resilience.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.


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