Cover of Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian. A bed with a couple of boots by it

About the Book

Title: Cut Both Ways

Cover Story: You Made It, Now Lie In It
Drinking Buddy: Cry Me a River
Testosterone Level: High, But That’s Not a Good Thing
Talky Talk: B for Butthead
Bonus Factors: LGBTQ, Hoarding
Bromance Status: I Support LGBTQ People, Just Not You Specifically

Cover Story: You Made It, Now Lie In It

It’s not a bad cover, but it’s not an interesting cover. And doesn’t have a lot to do with the book, I’m afraid.

The Deal:

Seventeen-year-old Will has had a rough life. His mom cheated on his father and is now living in a McMansion with her new husband and Will’s twin half-sisters. His dad is constantly renovating his house. Except he’s more interested in buying materials on Craigslist, then going off on a bender. He’s torn the place down to the studs, but shows little interest in fixing it up again.

Things change when will meets Brandy, a cute, funny, fifteen-year-old girl with an equally crappy home life. Soon, they’re dating and doing the things that young people do when they’re alone. Life is pretty great.

But then there’s Angus, Will’s openly gay best friend. And one night, after a little too much wine, the boys kiss. Hey, just a little experimenting, just a chance to see how the other half lives. Except Will keeps going back. And soon he and Angus are doing more than kissing. Doing a lot more.

What does this mean for Will? Where do his attractions lie?

Drinking Buddy: Cry Me a River

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

Unfortunately, the only characters I liked in this book were Will’s smartass preteen sisters. His parents were self-absorbed. Brandy was sweet, but kind of a mess, with constant ‘Just tell me if you’re breaking up with me!’ drama when he doesn’t call for a couple of days. Angus was one-dimensional, vanishing for chapters at a time, then showing up for hot sexy play with Will. And Will…oh, Will. Human beings do not exist for your pure sexual enjoyment (see below).

Testosterone Level: High, But That’s Not a Good Thing

A lot of sex in this book. And that might be considered a good thing, except Will just kind of treats Brandy and Angus as his own personal pleasure dolls.

Talky Talk: B for Butthead

Will had the potential to be an interesting character, with the odd family situation, that teenage malaise, and coming to grips with his sexuality. Unfortunately, realizing that he may be bisexual results in him having sex with twice as many people and not much else. He constantly sleeps with Brandy (and even convinces her to go condomless once), all the while seeing Angus on the side.

Brandy is unaware of this. To her, Will is Prince Charming, who’d never abandon her the way her parents did. Angus is all too aware, painfully waiting for his best friend to become his boyfriend.

I could maybe understand this if Will was just experimenting, or if he was gay and too ashamed to tell the world. But he’s very attracted to Brandy and very attracted to Angus (and strangely, no other guy). So Will just kind of accepts sexual favors from both of them.

I did not like Will.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Pride flag being waved in a parade

The word ‘bisexual’ never appears in this book, and Angus is the only boy Will has eyes and other body parts for. But the attraction is very real, and something not a lot of LGBTQ books discuss.

Bonus Factor: Hoarding

Title card of Hoarding: Buried Alive

Will’s father drinks a bit too much (which contributed to the breakdown of his marriage). He lives alone, constantly working on his house. But it’s mostly tearing down, not building up. Winter is coming, and the furnace is still not hooked up. To make matters worse, Will’s dad is constantly buying crap on eBay and Craigslist, filling the house up with used construction material and other stuff. Will is stuck sleeping in the attic. Is this a result of the booze? Of being alone too long? Or is this a sign of something more serious?

Bromance Status: I Support LGBTQ People, Just Not You Specifically

It must be difficult to come to terms with one’s own sexuality, but this book made it seem like an excuse to treat people like human toys.

FTC full Disclosure: I received neither money nor beer for this review. Cut Both Ways is out now.


Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.