Skin Game
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Skin Game

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,977 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Caroline Kettlewell's autobiography reveals a girl whose feelings of pain and alienation led her to seek relief in physically hurting herself, from age twelve into her twenties. Skin Game employs clear language and candid reflection to grant general readers as well as students an uncensored profile of a complex and unsettling disorder. "[This] mesmeric memoir examines the...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 7th 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin
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I started reading this book strictly as professional research. I had a group of kids in my grade this year who--one after the other--came to my office to tell me about a friend they knew who was cutting and they were worried. It became such a complex series of office visits that it took me a few days to sort out exactly who was cutting. It ended up being this entire group of girls who were all friends, and each of them came to tell me about a different girl until all 7 of them (yes, 7) had been...more
Jennifer Day
I saw this book in the self-help/Mental illness section of a bookstore. The grey cover shows a woman's torso and the cover itself is designed to look as if it had been systematically slashed over the woman's bare stomach with a razor blade. It called out to me, as did the simple title Skin Game. It's a very moving and brutally honest memoir of one woman's battle with self-mutilation. I easily found parts of myself within her story. I was so engrossed in this memoir that I finished it in one day,...more
Skin Game follows Caroline Kettlewell from when she first picked up the razor at twelve, to when she finally put it down, many years later. It's a very candid look at self-injury, and the way it affects a person throughout their life. I went into this book with high expectations, and it didn't disappoint.

This book was extraordinarily hard for me to read. I literally had to put it down and take a breather a couple times, which is why it took me several days to read such a short book. As a warning...more
Caroline is a cutter. Caroline has anxiety. Caroline has over thinking to the extreme. Caroline... does not apologize for her actions and that's what made this an interesting and eye opening book. Caroline has nothing special about her. She had a slightly different life than most people and it shows throughout the beginning of her memoir. It's safe to say that by the time she is a teenager not only is she already completely absorbed in self harming/ cutting herself but she is a downward spiral o...more
okay. so it's not the most insightful book as to the motivations behind her actions. it's also not best about encouraging someone into recovery, or stopping self-injury, or whatnot.

but. i wish, wish, WISH that someone had given me this book when i first dealt with PTSD. because the book i was handed was Prozac Nation, and let me tell you, there was nothing i could find in there that really resonated with me - and i tried.

this is why, i think:

"I changed the subject, and he let it slide, which o...more
Dec 04, 2008 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in psychological disorders/knows someone with a 'cutting' problem
Recommended to Nicole by: I read this book in a sociology course in college
This book was about a young women that had a problem with "cutting" and used this to escape from negative emotions and events in her life. The book provides insight into why cutting provides an outlet to some, unhealthy as it may be, and how it becomes almost an addiction. I thought it was a somewhat slow read and at times a bit unpleasent, but the story gave me a sense of understanding about the causes, stages and recovery of the disorder. Unfortunately, cutting is more common than most people...more
Though I don't believe I went in with grand expectations, I was actually a bit disappointed with this book. I have always had a fascination with mental illness, and its manifestations in a variety of ways, and I tend to be drawn towards memoirs in general. The potential seemed high of a book that claims to be about "the first former cutter to tell her own story about living with and overcoming the disorder".

I can't deny that the problem has nothing to do with the calibre of writing itself - it's...more
Peyton Howe
Skin Game, a shocking memoir, takes you through the disturbing young life of Caroline Kettlewell, the author. This book will change any readers view of themselves and others. I guarantee that whoever reads Skin Game will really enjoy it, as I did.
Caroline Kettlewell is a strong and creative person, but underneath her skin is something so dark and discomforting. The only way to free it is to cut her own flesh where her blood can carry it away. Caroline begins self-harming in middle school and con...more
I thought this book was very interesting. It wasn't my first memior about self injury but it was my first where I didn't actually like it that much. It was not comfortable to read and it was not because of the subject, it was because of the author's way of writing. Caroline wrote it using metaphors and similies that some things were lost to me. This book was ok but I would not reccommend it to those who are interested in this topic.
Aug 01, 2007 jtabz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks with bad childhoods and the people who love them
Shelves: memoir
Though this book has largely been touted as "the memoir of a cutter," I think it paints a far more comprehensive picture of life with an anxiety disorder. As a writer, Kettlewell fares much better when she relies on her well-honed sense of irony than when she falls into sometimes belabored figurative language and verbose descriptions.
Annie Brechting
In the book, Skin Game, written by Caroline Kettlewell, she tells us about the story of her life and how self harm controlled her life for many years. This book describes the mindset of a person who felt as though self harm was the only solution, and how hard it was for her to overcome this.
In fifth grade, Caroline began cutting her arms and legs. She felt that it was her only escape from the troubles of life. She continued doing this until she was in her twenties. After meeting and getting marr...more
A memoir of the authors fight with self harm and anorexia. Gives a good insight into the distorted thinking that accompanies these disorders. Finished rather abruptly..."and then I got better". Could have done with a lot more on how she overcame this.
Bella Leroux

Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell is about a girl named Caroline (herself). At age twelve, she begins to cut herself. She tried to first cut herself when she was in seventh grade in her school’s bathroom, and she still continued to cut herself into her twenties. She began cutting to only see her own blood under a microscope. Later on, it was only to get her pain out.

Caroline at a young age, moved with her family to a boy’s boarding school. She and her sister were the only girls at the school. Aft

Before I read Skin Game, I looked at some of the reviews and was discouraged by what others had to say. I decided to read the book anyway because I wanted to read a memoir on self-harm/cutting and I couldn’t find any others. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Kettlewell did not have a particularly traumatic childhood, which leads her to question whether she’s “allowed” to feel the way she does. Although the author and many readers feel like this is an example of a person who cuts wit...more
Kyra Powers
The book Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell is a very good book. It is one of my favorites that I have ever read. It a true story about a former self-harmer that tells her story about why she self harmed and the reasons she thought the it was okay to do it. In the story, she describes how she thought it was normal for people to cut themselves and she gave herself lots of reasons for her to rationalize cutting herself. Throughout the whole story, she tells about how she dated a lot of guys to try a...more
Lady Ethereal Butterfly
It all started at age 12 for Caroline Kettlewell. Cutting became an escape for her, a defence. "I know cutting was my defence against an internal chaos, against a sense of the world gone out of control." (60). This memoir spans almost two decades of her life, in which she cuts and tries to hide it.

I absolutely loved this honest, straightforward memoir. The amount of background information given about Caroline and her family built a vivid picture of a girl and her struggle without being too word...more
As part of my job working with adolescents many of whom struggle with different mental health issues, I've been reading different books on topics I feel I need to know more about. This book helped me get an "inside picture" of cutting, an issue I didn't really know much about until I started my reading. Kettlewell does an excellent job of describing her life and her experiences, including showing how she herself had little insight into her behavior as a young person.
Sue T
Oh, such a difficult review to write. If one really wanted to get inside the mind of a person who self-injures, this is a great book to do that. The author very effectively describes her inner experience, the chaos and overwhelming-ness of her emotions, and the way that cutting "cuts through" all of that and quiets her inner chaos.

Caroline effectively captures the ever-present angst, poor self-esteem, emotional complexity AND the way in which people with certain disorders can be grating and frus...more
What is it with mental-health-related memoirs? Is there some unspoken prerequisite that the author must be tragically wealthy in order to grace the world with his/her deepestdarkest recesses of mind? Or is it that privilege allows one the luxury of time to simmer in one's own delusions, such that the only logical next step is to write a book about said delusions? Perhaps creativity overlooks a spoonfed private education, complete with proper dinner etiquette and a propensity to confer upon its r...more
Janet Morris
As you grow up, you're taught that every scar tells a story and I believe that Caroline Kettlewell has proved that point.

This book is a remarkable memoir of growing up with self-mutilation. She tells of how it looked, felt, etc. It can get a bit graphic, but sometimes, you need the graphic stuff in order to understand the feelings.

I think that this book is exquisite. I think every self-injurer could identify with the feelings that Caroline went through. I think that non-'cutters' could identify...more
I wish her thoughts, although good, weren't so scattered. If you're going to write a book you might as well take the time to organize your thoughts. For this kind of book, a little bit of scattered wandering would be acceptable (in fact it would even lend itself very nicely to the overall feel of the book and make the book better), but Kettlewell's just a little too scattered. I'm not criticizing the story as it is a very unique one and must take some serious guts to reveal to the world (althoug...more
Apr 28, 2014 NayDoubleU rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is involved in self harm in anyway
Recommended to NayDoubleU by:
Fantastic read!! If you are just beginning your journey of not turning to self harm, i don't suggest reading this book.. I have not turned to self harming in about 4-5 months, I found this book drawing me to WANT to go back to my ways due to the fact that she paints the picture(of self harming) so beautifully, she really gets the struggle, need and most of all want for the mutilation. If you're curious about self harm this is a good book to read and if you're still on your journey of succeeding...more
I picked up this book to better understand people who cut themselves, since a student of mine cut himself in class in front of my other students a couple of weeks ago. What I found in her work was a deeply felt, and compassionate account of a mind in turmoil, and honesty about how she dug herself out. The most revealing part of the text was that she could never articulate the reasons for why she cut herself while she was young and involved with self-mutilation. The understanding came later, afte...more
This memoir delves into the mind of a girl who is desperately unhappy in her supposedly ideal middle class life and starts down the path of secret self-destructive behavior. Because there was nothing she could point to as to WHY she was so unhappy she felt very ashamed of it and didn't think other people would understand. I felt like the author told everything she could and as honestly as she could, but still the book felt a little incomplete to me. There wasn't quite enough detail in many of he...more
Ariel Bates
My novel is Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell. I like this book because I was a cutter. This book was really close to me. If I didnt have people who love me I probably wouldnt be hear today. I am lucky that I am.
This is about a girl who feelings built up and she couldnt take it anymore, so she started cutting. She started at the of twelve to her twenties. I would recommend this book to anybody who has lost a loved one from cutting or if you have or still do. This could change your mind about thi...more
This book wasn't really what I'd expected. The author uses a ton of big, fancy words for simple descriptions and metaphors for everything. This gets a bit old after awhile because it feels forced and not really heartfelt.

The last few chapters are the exception to this metaphor fest. They make this book worth reading, because it is an offer of hope for those struggling with similar issues.

Overall, not a bad book, but it could have been so much better. Instead the majority of it feels insecure.....more
I liked the beginning and the end. Caroline's life were very interesting and a lot different from mine. It was hard to realize the truth reading this book that some self-harmers don't know why they do it. She was trying to dig as deep into her past as she could, yet not able to recognize the reason why she did it.
The book was very triggering in a way.
I was disappointed that her recovery wasn't more detailed because this was one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book (it always amazes me...more
Shawn Kass
Great psychological look at cutting
Susan Bazzett-griffith
I would have liked to give this book separate ratings for content and writing. The writing is lovely-- lyrical, pretty, complex. But the actual content of the memoir bored me. I felt like I should have felt something-- empathy, sympathy, pity, SOMETHING, but I didn't. The writing was extraordinary, the book itself was very ordinary in its melodrama. I think Kettlewell is a great writer, but perhaps would be better suited to fiction or poetry, a medium that would allow her words to paint, rather...more
Miss Vought
Skin Games takes the reader directly into the mind of a young girl who cuts herself. Caroline Kettlewell brings her teenage years alive in this heart-wrenching memoir. As she enters into her teenage years, she begins cutting herself.
Kettlewell writes of her cutting experiences in extreme detail. She doesn't hide the joy and pure ecstasy that cutting brought her. The book can be hard to take because of it's description, but it sheds light on why people cut.
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“You might imagine that a person would resort to self-mutilation only under extremes of duress, but once I'd crossed that line the first time, taken that fateful step off the precipice, then almost any reason was a good enough reason, almost any provocation was provocation enough. Cutting was my all-purpose solution.” 117 likes
“The fear of an unknown never resolves, because the unknown expands infinitely outward, leaving you to cling pitifully to any small shelter of the known: a cracker has twelve calories; the skin, when cut, bleeds.” 83 likes
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