The Cut is a young adult novel that explores three major issues among teenagers: peer pressure, love, and finding a personal identity. For Brian Palmer, the most important thing in his life is to make the football team at his new school. To do so, he is willing to participate in a dangerous rite of passage called ”running the cut.” It is an initiation with a long tradition at Fannett Meadow High School. Team members are expected to run toward a speeding locomotive before it enters the narrow chasm that confines them. The ability to “ignore the freight train” proves their bravery and solidifies them as a team.
Brian’s willingness to do anything to fit in soon runs into difficulty when he finds himself falling in love with a girl in his English class—a girl who is an outcast because of her unique individuality, a girl who is despised by the football team. Marybeth resists his advances at first, but slowly accepts him when she sees that there is more to Brian than his love of football. She becomes his personal coach in his new quest to find his own identity.
Meanwhile, a practical joke has raised the ire of a stalker, nicknamed the Eggman, who seems intent on ruining the lives and reputations of Brian and two teammates. Enlisting the help of Marybeth, Brian sets out to uncover the mysterious stranger. In the process, he learns how to be true to himself.