Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: Cut Off

Publish September 17, 2015

In his latest YA novel, Cut Off, award-winning author Jamie Bastedo explores social isolation, oppression, and addiction, creating an eye-opening account of one troubled “screenager’s” harrowing journey from cyber addict to enlightened young adult. Wealthy, fourteen-year-old classical guitar prodigy, Indio McCracken, lives in Guatemala with his mom, local gold mine-owner dad, and younger sister, Sofi. When his dad posts a video of Indio playing Flight of the Bumblebee at lightning speed, he enjoys unimaginable stardom. Eager for Indio to be a world-renowned classical guitarist, his dad has Indio home-schooled and locked in his room to practise endlessly, often whacking Indio across the shins with his mining stake or stepping on his tapping toe for losing a beat. With home feeling like a prison, depressed Indio escapes into the online world, creating virtual identities and writing music-related blogs to take his “mind off the pain, off the loneliness.” His blogs are overnight sensations, giving Indio what he feels he’s missing— “connection, freedom, and friends.” His Internet obsession escalates over the next several months, culminating in a near-fatal car accident caused by his texting while driving. Indio’s parents take drastic action, sending him to Camp Lifeboat, a wilderness-based teen rehabilitation facility in southern Yukon. Here, Indio spends a few “unplugged” months with a handful of other teens with varying addictions. Together, they experience some intense wilderness situations that test both their physical and mental strength, making them work as a team. And while we don’t know what happens in the end with Indio, his music, and his dad, Bastedo’s convincing characters and timely storyline make for a powerful, absorbing narrative, sure to make readers stop and question their own relationship with technology.

Cut Off

Jamie Bastedo
ISBN 13: 9780889955110

Jennifer D. Foster
Jennifer D. Foster Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor, mentor, and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She loves kidlit, greyhounds, Japan, pumpkin pie and yard sales.  

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