**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.
The Edge of Brilliance
by Susan Traugh
Genre: YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
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Guest Post: Writing about mental illness
I love people with mental illness. Truth is—I’m surrounded by them!
When I married my husband, I thought he was a moody artist-type. By the time we discovered his mood swings were caused by bipolar disorder, we’d had three kids. My son has an anxiety disorder, my oldest daughter has Asperger’s and bipolar II, and my youngest daughter is severely bipolar I and is the model for ‘Amy’ in The Edge of Brilliance.
Not only does my entire family suffer from mental illness, but because birds-of-a-feather tend to flock together—everyone’s friends are also either mentally ill or are quirky individuals who live on society’s fringes.
But, I write about mental illness because that’s not all these people are. They’re complex, unique, funny, talented, intelligent, creative people, and, in the end, just like everybody else. And that’s what I want readers to understand. I want my readers to feel a full range of emotions as they step into the lives of Amy and her tribe and come away with an appreciation of them as wonderfully complex individuals who are more like them than not. I want readers to follow Amy’s journey and say to themselves, “Oh, I can relate to that—this could be me.” I want readers to see these characters as more similar than different and as much more magnificent than a label.
The Edge of Brilliance does address the issue of mental illness. But, first and foremost, it is the story of a teenaged girl who combats her challenges to find the hero within herself—and isn’t that just a universal story?
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