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Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,209 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
Celebrated transsexual trailblazer Kate Bornstein has, with more humor and spunk than any other, ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it.

Here, Bornstein bravely and wittily shares personal and unorthodox methods of survival in an often cruel world. A one-of-a-kind guide to staying alive outside th
Paperback, 231 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Seven Stories Press
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Community Reviews

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Apr 29, 2012 Nathan rated it it was amazing
First of all, I wish I had bought the paper copy instead of the ebook edition. If you're considering purchasing the book, get the paper. I am going to buy the flesh and blood copy even though I already bought the ebook.
This book is worth it.
Second of all, If you know of somebody who has expressed a wish to die, please, please, please give them this book.

Now for my review:
For a good part of my life I've been an outlaw, cast as a freak by people, and this has made me suicidal. And I firmly believe
Dec 05, 2007 Stacy rated it really liked it
I think this book was badly named. Had the subtitle been 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Freaks, Weirdos and Other Outlaws (say)--it would still have ended up in the hands of the teens who really needed it and yet would not have suggested the book was *only* for teens. Some adults will miss this book, and that's too bad. Like some other reviewers I was impressed with Kate's humor and articulation, but put off by the fact that so much of it was focused on sexuality. I think sex DOES need to be in ...more
Nov 19, 2007 Alexei rated it it was amazing
Ok, I'll admit it- I have a big, fat crush on Kate Bornstein. Big brains are a huge turn on.

But as far as the *book* goes, I'd have to give it 5 stars. As someone who works with queer and questioning youth, I have found this book to be invaluable- both for myself and for the youth I work with.

I've seen some reviews call in to question the focus on sexuality in a book meant for younger readers. Newsflash: youth are expressing their sexuality and gender at younger and younger ages and looking for
Sep 13, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
Eh. It was alright. WAY too much stuff about sex for my asexual self to really like it. Made me feel worse after reading it because of that. More alone, because it seemed to say if you don't want sex in some way you're not normal. I know that's not the way most people would read it and it made some good points that weren't about sex.
Jun 15, 2009 Nicola rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, gender, lgbt
I would hazard a guess that this is the most badass self-help book on the market. Kate Bornstein’s advice on how to climb out of your suicidal hole ranges from that which is simple (moisturize! touch yourself… not like that – unless you want to!) to that which is off-kilter (remove the word ‘hello’ from your vocabulary and tell people what you really feel when you see them… ummm, yeah, I didn’t really get that one). Bornstein is refreshingly blunt – drugs, cutting, starving yourself are all bett ...more
Mar 30, 2008 Caitlin rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer
So I get all the hoopla about Kate Bornstein and I can respect her work and her life, but I don't agree with a lot of it. The first part of the book was just scattered and ill-prepared. Her generalizations like "all lesbian and gay people are transgendered because the transcend gender" just leave me feeling a little squicky. And I'm sure quite a few lesbians and gay men would agree with me on that.
That being said, her actual list of 101 things to do is pretty good. Most of them are just good
Aug 12, 2015 Joao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Bornstein era um menino que não se sentia bem como menino e queria ser uma menina. Foi vítima de bullying e pensou suicidar-se várias vezes. Quando cresceu e conseguiu transformar-se em mulher, descobriu que também não estava bem como mulher! E passou a experimentar outras identidades e nenhuma. Hoje tenta explicar a sua sexualidade com a expressão "femme sadomasoquista submiss@", mas afirma que isso não é importante, e que vai mudando de identidade como quem muda de roupa, de acordo com as ...more
Sep 24, 2010 Ali rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, psychology, 2010
I picked this up earlier this year as a bit of an introduction to Kate Bornstein's written work. I avoid self-help books like the plague, but the title of this book has intrigued me for a couple of years now. The "Don't kill yourself! Kill what you don't like about yourself" message is concrete and positive, and I think it could be helpful for a lot of people.

Recalling my own teen years, I think this book is a vital resource for teens or young adults, and not limited to queer youth. But I think
Dec 20, 2015 Shannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, fix-me
I love you, Kate Bornstein. I didn't want to rate this low, due to this love (formed after reading Bornstein's awesome autobiography (A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today) but I have to be honest, this was lacking.

The first, like, 100 pages of this are almost entirely about gender, which is interesting to me and Bornstein says it all beautifully, but I felt it did
Michelle Brandstetter
Jun 21, 2012 Michelle Brandstetter rated it really liked it
Whether struggling with sexuality, bullying, or abuse, just a few things that can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide, the book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, & Other Outlaws is a brutally honest look at a multitude of possibilities other than ending one’s life. Kate Bornstein exposes her own personal struggle as a child and teen, her journey to find herself, and how she would eventually accept herself and own her identity.

Whether struggling with sex
Nov 13, 2008 Ciara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: troubled teens, troubled teens-at-heart, therapists to teens
i guess i read this book strictly from curiosity. i am not a teenager & i haven't been wild about kate bornstein, particularly. but perhaps if i had a distraught teenager in my life--or a surly one, or one that wouldn't talk to anyone--i would pass this book along. it has many coping mechanisms ideas for young folks (& folks of all ages who may be having some trouble getting through their days) who feel alienated from their families, schools, & general communities, maybe because they ...more
Jackson Radish
Oct 22, 2011 Jackson Radish rated it it was amazing

So I wrote a pretty in-depth review of this book for if you're interested as well, but here's the gist:

This book is amazing and I urge anyone who is a teen or other person who feels different and is struggling with depression, hopelessness or suicidal thoughts to read it.

I especially encourage parents (and teachers and librarians, who are usually motivated to censor by parents so this goes back to you, parents) to be open-minded enough to be okay with your teens rea
Nov 19, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
"Look, do you mind that I'm talking so much about gender?" Not at all, Kate...not at all. I've been meaning to read this book for a couple of years, and finally got around to it. While I'm not a teen, or suicidal, I don't think that you have to be in order to benefit from this book. (It would help to be some kind of outsider, though.) I don't agree with, or know how to make sense of, everything that Kate is saying here. A few parts were kind of alienating. But, I think this book is better and mo ...more
Nov 16, 2010 Bekka rated it really liked it
I love that this book does not merely just make a case of why life is pretty awesome and worth living, but truly acknowledges that dangerous self harm/suicidal ideation is not just something that can be magically removed from someone without being replaced with some alternative behavior/thoughts. Sometimes these alternatives are not "ideal" or "healthy," but anything that will keep someone tethered to the Earth in their darkest moments is something of value. Thank you Kate your honesty and honor ...more
May 13, 2011 Littlevision rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Littlevision by: adults, teens, outlaws of any kind
It takes a lot for me to give a book five stars, but this book is one I can't give any less to. Why?

I think it has the potential to change lives. Kate Bornstein is plain cool and her 101 alternatives to killing yourself are totally awesome. I feel inspired by her book, something that I haven't felt in a long time. And her book has given me just what I need to keep on living -- at least for now. And if I reach that point again, I'll read this book again. And I'll keep reading it and recommending
Eli Poteet
Feb 27, 2015 Eli Poteet rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, wisdom
Overall- this self help book is fantastic, I greatly appreciate Bornsteins writings and presentations at conferences. I genuinely appreciate the infixes on the gender spectrum versus the gender binary popular in contemporary American culture.
The only thing I am not a huge fan of is slightly avid pushing of drugs and medications. I acknowledge that some pills work for some people but personally I do not support the Western medicalization of deviance.
Regardless of personal feelers- I think this b
Alysia Constantine
May 03, 2016 Alysia Constantine rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for my wife as a gift, but read it before she got her hands on it. It's a vital book, especially at this moment, when news of "bathroom bills" and the resulting legalized harassment and abuse of trans folk who dare to... exist... in public seems to be mounting by the day.

Boernstein writes in a clear, relatable way, about gender. I've been teaching versions of "gender studies" at the college level for decades now, and I'm going to sit with this book over the summer to relearn h
Apr 14, 2014 Marie rated it really liked it
Kate Bornstein puts a lot of emphasis on the idea that coping mechanisms can be shitty and yet still work, which is something that resonates with me tremendously; she acknowledges that a certain class of things (drugs, alcohol, self-injury) can be tremendously unhealthy and yet still be better than suicide. There are a lot of other suggestions she makes, from the woo-woo to the down to earth, all of them presented with an attitude of "this might work, it might not, give it a shot", and her guidi ...more
Nicole Perry
Jun 11, 2015 Nicole Perry rated it really liked it
As Kate Bornstein reiterates on the first page, this book isn't a book of reasons not to kill yourself, but things to do instead. One thing I like about it is that all the alternatives are things Kate has tried herself. It's not prescriptive, and it's not coming from an "expert" in mental health - just someone who's been there and found a way (or, many different ways over the years). If nothing else, doing the items on this list will keep you busy. But honestly, I think most people could find so ...more
Apr 28, 2016 Kriti rated it it was amazing
I wish I had found this book before. I borrowed it from the local library but am now planning on getting my own copy to have if my depression worsens again. Part 1 was, I'll admit, just a random spew about gender and your own identity. However, I'm basing this review on Part 2, the 101 alternatives themselves. With simple short-term tasks like making art, to more complex long-term things like finding the love of your life, there's an option for everyone. The author also admits that sometimes mor ...more
Stacy Pershall
Apr 29, 2011 Stacy Pershall rated it it was amazing
I love you so much, Kate Bornstein. Thank you for this book. I've given it to several strange girls (and boys.)
Feb 22, 2014 Penny rated it it was amazing
Kate Bornstein is the first person I have ever seen talk about how stressful and depressing it is to live with oppression and social stigma, and to talk about means of dealing with severe depression that are not necessarily legal or good for you but are certainly something to check out before suicide. She doesn't waste words with pointless happytalk or pretend that everyone is similarly situated or even safe. I love her discussions of the necessity of transforming yourself and her honesty about ...more
Jun 08, 2009 Molly rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2009
i really wish i'd had this book when i was a teenager.
Lisa M.
Dec 21, 2010 Lisa M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have wanted to read this book for years. Like most of Bornstein's work, sometimes you have to ignore some overly eccentric ideas and identify the core message of the work. Although some of Bornstein's ideas are too out there (even for me,) I really enjoyed this book overall. Bornstein has had actual experience with suicidal ideation; readers can relate and trust her advice. Her experience gives her an extremely realistic view-point on the topic. Doing anything-- even negative things like cutti ...more
Kate Bornstein, with this unusual book, has a good idea. She wants to make sure we all stay alive and live happily. Thus she provides a long list of alternatives to suicide.

I picked this book up because a student tagged it as including unsuitable material, which it certainly does. She advocates all sorts of activities, with the caveat that they should not be mean to anyone. This leaves a lot of room for people to be doing things.

I finished this book because I was interested in her approach to l
Aug 29, 2008 Roxane rated it it was ok
This was my first experience reading Kate Bornstein though I’d heard about her (at length) from a friend who enjoys her work. I had also listened to her interview on the Radical Guy Podcast (a great podcast on transgender issues, very informative, you should check it out by the way). So I was familiar with her overall message and her direct and accessible manner of presenting it.

Hello Cruel World is directed at teens and so I take it, Bornstein did not approach all the issues she usually address
This book is super weird and Kate Bornstein is a total nutter. With that said there's a lot of great qualities about this book. Cutter, Transgender, Scientologist, Dyke, Addict, Masochist, Magician and Anorexic are just a few of the many labels Kate pins on herself from time to time from her revolving collection of identities. She's had loads of experience trying to figure out how to be her authentic self in this world and I thought she had some good points and some thought provoking ideas to sh ...more
Sep 15, 2013 Shanu rated it really liked it
The first part of the book (in which the author explains what made her suicidal and what we should change into society) was a bit irrelevant to me because it was focused on (trans)gender's issues. I am not concerned by that, not because i'm cis straight but because sexuality and genders are not something that matters to me. While some people struggle to put a 5 nouns label on themselves, i just don't feel the need to define or categorize myself.

Regarding the writing style, it was not perfect but
Mar 03, 2009 Cory rated it really liked it
Let me begin by saying that "like" isn't really a word I would use to describe this book. It wasn't a fun read. I wasn't sucked in. However, I do think it's a very important book, and very brave. I don't think a teen would check it out, but it is the sort of thing that they would read secretly in the library and it might save their life. Literally. The balancing act would be having it available and letting teens know it was available, without making it a big thing . . . "Here's a book about bein ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Metaspinster rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone (I'd like to know)
Recommended to Metaspinster by: Martha
Like Kate Bornstein, this book defies categorization. The first half is part Gender Studies 101 peppered with autobiographical tidbits but uses this "queer theory for the layperson" paradigm to get at the pain and emotional oppression of Otherness(es) of all types. The one "rule" of Bornstein's guidebook may be "don't be mean," but the overall purpose of the book is to provide (suggest) alternatives to death and/or conformity.

I haven't been suicidal since I was 16 years old, but I still find mu
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Kate Bornstein is a Jewish-American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist.
More about Kate Bornstein...

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“I have this idea that every time we discover that the names we're being called are somehow keeping us less than free, we need to come up with new names for ourselves, and that the names we give ourselves must no longer reflect a fear of being labeled outsiders, must no longer bind us to a system that would rather see us dead.” 22 likes
“And keep in mind that the you that makes life worthy of living today won’t be the same you that makes life worth living this time next year. Identities aren’t meant to be permanent. They’re like cars: they take us from one place to another. We work, travel, and seek adventure in them until they break down beyond repair. At that point, living well means finding a new model that better suits us for a new moment.” 7 likes
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