The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh #mf #review #YA @FinchBooks

The Edge of Brilliance

Volatile and unstable, Amy stands at the precipice. Will she fall into the chaos and despair of insanity or ascend into brilliance and redemption?

Amy Miles is fifteen and crazy. Or, at least that’s her greatest fear. Her severe bipolar disorder, with its roller coaster manic and depressive episodes, is ruining her life. Yet in Amy’s mind it is accepting the pills and therapy—not the disease—that will brand her as ’crazy’.

When Amy lands in a residential psychiatric program, she befriends take-charge Mallory and the two create family and try to salvage the shards of their broken minds. There, Amy discovers that her illicit drug use has robbed her of her ability to dance and she is forced to weigh how hard she is willing to work to reclaim her lost talent and potential. But, despite a promising beginning, when Amy falls back into denial, the tragic consequences cannot be undone.

Amy is left to decide whether to give up altogether or accept her diagnosis and the tools she needs to battle her disease, to learn to dance again and forge a new and improved version of herself. Will she step up to the edge of her brilliance and shine?

Reader Advisory: This book contains strong language and also includes scenes involving drug use, rape, violence. This book also includes a frank exploration of mental illness and loss of autonomy.addtogoodreads_zps55cd15da16Tbird_s ThoughtsTAG

I really appreciate the author taking us into the lives and mind of person who suffers from Bipolar disorder.  For the first time we are able to understand how their mind works, what emotions fuel their behavior and most importantly the aftermath they must face and try to make sense of.

This book was a bit sensitive to me as my husband suffers from this disorder and I never understood before how it truly devastates every aspect of their life.  I connected to the mother in the book more because that is the “role” I personally take in the family of bipolar so being given a “manual” of sorts regarding what I am up against was an educational and priceless experience for me.

Amy is fifteen and what should be the time of her life instead is plagued with therapy appointments, medication, shame, anger and guilt.  Parents refuse to let their children be friends because of her manic, irrational behavior while others find the disorder something they can joke about and ignore.

Trying to fix the issue with things other than her prescribe medication only makes matters worse, the family is tired of suffering and watching her destroy her life.  When it comes to a boiling point, Amy lands in a residential psychiatric program.

Faced with two choices, either continue to resist any help and end up dead, or take what is being offered and finally be able to answer the question her mother always ask “who are you?” Amy begins to realize that being bipolar is not going to go away.

Usually I am not a huge fan of stories about teenage angst but The Edge of Brilliance goes much farther than angst, it dives into the minds of a teenagers who suffer from mental illness.  The author did a wonderful job at keeping things real, from the despair of the parents to the exhaustion of living with the disorder and not grasping the dire need to learn the tools in order to survive.  What is even better, we see why it is difficult for them to accept they need the tools and medication because society just sees that as being stubborn, not as part of the illness.

I highly recommend this book for parents and teenagers who need the wakeup call that mental illness is not punishable but the messes made from it, should be held to accountability.  It is such a very fine line between the two and I believe this book defines it well with humility and compassion.


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