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Skin Game

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,624 Ratings  ·  94 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 (first published July 1st 1999)
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Cut by Patricia McCormickCutters Don't Cry by Christine DzidrumsWillow by Julia HobanScars by Cheryl RainfieldWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Books About Cutting Yourself
12th out of 68 books — 239 voters
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14th out of 82 books — 174 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 23, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2012 Jennifer Day rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
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
Oct 16, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this memoir because I can identify with the writer's thoughts and feelings. Although my circumstances were far different from hers, the over-thinking of every day things were pretty much right on the money with my own thought process. Also, the coping mechanism she used was similar to the way I coped with my life struggles. She is absolutely correct in that you have to take life one day at a time and deal with whatever comes to you. A strong support system is also important.
Jul 05, 2015 Meg rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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
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
Dec 04, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
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
Feb 23, 2012 Madi rated it it was ok
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.
Josie Brown
Nov 24, 2014 Josie Brown rated it liked it
“Skin has a good memory. Skin is like the ground we walk on every day; you can read a whole history in it if you know how to look.” The book I read is called Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell. This book is about the actual author’s life and what she did to herself when she was young.
Caroline was just a young girl when she started to cut herself. She had started to cut herself because of her body image. Once she had the image in her mind that her body was not the body she wanted she started to s
Peyton Howe
Mar 04, 2014 Peyton Howe rated it liked it
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
My unhappiness precluded all else; unhappiness is a kind of narcissism, in which nothing that does not resonate with your unhappiness can interest you.

This is the painful journey filled with self hate and mutilation and poor self images, which led Carolina Kettlewell through a twenty-year period. s such a young, normal girl as twelve, but with physically attraction opened early after her family lived on a Private School For Boys property, and she had enough time to bond and become closer to four
Daisy Roberson
Oct 17, 2014 Daisy Roberson rated it really liked it
I started reading this book for an assignment, and really liked this memoir. This is a short read, so I figured it would be perfect for my book report considering I'm not a fan of nonfiction books. This book was a very honest and brutal story of Caroline's mental illnesses and self harming habits. Caroline's story was very motivating and made life only feel like a battle, and not everything is as bad as it seems. People with mental illnesses, such as cutting or eating disorders are usually label ...more
Emma Tober
Oct 13, 2014 Emma Tober rated it liked it
The Skin Games shows the reader exactly how a teenage girl would cut herself. The author Caroline Kettlewell takes you through the emotions she felt and how she became a cutter.

From ages twelve to her twenties she cut because of her emotions and what was going on in her life. She was also fascinated with her own blood and the way it moved through her body and the way it looked. I think Kettlewell did a good job portraying her story on paper. I would recommend this book to female teenagers or any
Aug 01, 2007 jtabz rated it liked it
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
Jan 12, 2014 Annie Brechting rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2012 Maggie rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 18, 2015 Kelly rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnot-finish
I just could not get into it. I have read a lot about self harm and experienced myself and I could not get into it. It was dull. However , I know many people will relate and love this book. It is a true account and spot on a lot of things ..
Dec 06, 2014 Kristina rated it really liked it
I've read this book in the past, many, many years ago. My recent feelings and thoughts urged me to re-read it.

Overall, I liked this book and the messages it brought with it. I enjoyed the painfully truthful ending and the hard-to-hear incidents that the author endured over her life with self-harm and intrusive thoughts. The author did not hold back details that would make the reader cringe, which is exactly how she should shed light on the epidemic of self-mutilation.

I took off a star because at
Bella Leroux
Mar 09, 2014 Bella Leroux rated it it was amazing

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

Aug 10, 2014 Julia rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 30, 2013 Kyra Powers rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 16, 2014 Elisse rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 14, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it
I was required to read this as part of one of my psychology classes, and it is such an amazing book. The author is so honest about her experiences, and it was so helpful to me in understanding why someone would harm themselves - which was important to me not just as a psychology student, but as someone with a friend who occasionally struggles with self-harm. It's something that is so misunderstood, and I wish this was required reading for everyone.
Sue T
Jan 24, 2014 Sue T rated it it was ok
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
Sydney Richardson
Feb 17, 2016 Sydney Richardson rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very relatable and the way the author described things really made you think. I gave this book four stars. The only reason it isn’t five is because there were timed when it got sort of boring in the middle. The author talked about things and drew the on way longer than she should have. However overall it was a great book and I would definitely read it again.
Mar 12, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
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
I suspect it would be to find a book that describes cutting and depression as well as this book let alone better.

As the book states, this is a highly personal account but I think that only makes it more accurate. Instead of sticking to theoretical average effects this book describes very precise symptoms but through them one can gain insight into these phenomenon.

The focus of the book is how the protagonist fell into depression and started cutting. The redemptive element of the story takes far
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
Dec 21, 2012 Sana rated it liked it
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
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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.” 182 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.” 101 likes
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