The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh Genre: YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction Release Date: July 19th 2016 Finch Books 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?
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’.
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.
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?
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.
About the Author
Award-winning author, Susan Traugh, has been writing for over thirty years. Her Daily Living Skills workbooks
are used in classrooms all over the world and her stories have appeared
in periodicals nationwide along with several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. With husband, Steven, Susan won Learning Magazine's Teachers Choice Award for Mother Goose Brain Boost.
Now, Susan is venturing into the world of young adult fiction. Her latest novel, The Edge of Brilliance is
an exploration into the heroes found within struggling young people.
The manuscript was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards. Today,
Susan lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and daughters, a cat, dog,
fish and near her grown son who doesn't visit enough.
wail reverberated off the tiled walls in a satisfying shriek. Drenched, enraged
and prostrate, Amy reached her arms over her head as she lay fully clothed,
sprawling half in, half out of the shower while steam roiled and the water
splashed out of the open door and onto the floor.
her dad had said. As if it was his word. As if he had any right to
it. Any right to use it. It was
hers. Her word. Her nightmare. Her disease.
tried to make this mess more manageable with cheery advice and condescending
platitudes. But it was a curse. A plague. A full-blown disaster. She didn’t
deserve it and she’d wail at the wall if she wanted to.
therapist had once congratulated her on choosing the shower. He’d suggested
cold water to cool her down and ease her manic episodes, so Amy purposely chose
hot. Besides, the hot water mirrored her mood.
yet, as the heat poured over her body, that rage seemed to seep out of her
pores and flow down the drain with her tears. It was ending. She could feel the
signs. But it was never raw rage into sublime peace. This trip to hell included
a side trip through mortification and shame with a final destination of
nothingness. And here it came again. After the volcano came the pit. Amy tried
to hold on to her rage. As acidic as that fire burned, it was better than
falling into the hole of despair that awaited her. For this was not the first
time she’d locked herself away in fury. She just wanted it to be the last.
rattle of the bathroom doorknob jolted Amy’s thoughts as her mother
successfully forced the locked door with the back of a spoon…again.
out!” Amy shrieked, mustering all the anger she could pull from her waterlogged
body before her mother opened the bathroom door. But she knew her mother had
heard the change in her cries. They’d danced this dance so often that Amy knew
her mother could anticipate each step, and the truth was, part of her was glad
for her mom to come and pull her back from the volcano’s pit.
said her mother in a tone that allowed no response. Mom slowly closed the door
behind her and surveyed the damage. She sucked in a quick breath, stopped, then
slowly blew it out as if she were blowing through a straw. In her fury, Amy had
slammed the shower door against the towel rack on the wall, shattering the
tempered glass within the frame. The pebbles of glass hung in a weblike pattern
on the door, glistening with the spray of the shower and looking like a
called me crazy!” Amy yelled from the shower floor, a new wave of rage
don’t recall hearing him use that word,” replied her mom.
Amy, I’d say the shower door and living room furniture would attest to a manic
he can’t say it!”
can he say, honey? What can any of us say when you’re like this?”
threw the soap at the shower wall. “But don’t you get it? I
don’t want to be like this!”
understand that. But you will be until you start taking your meds regularly.”
not crazy! I’m not taking meds for crazy people!”
one said you were crazy. Your father never used that word and never will. But
you do have bipolar disorder. So your choice is to control your condition, or
let the condition control you. We both know the choice you’re making now. How’s
that working for you?”
Amy wept, her mother stood staring at the wall. The steady pounding of the
shower’s water was the only other sound in the room. As she cried, Amy wondered
if her mother would ever speak again.
are you, Amy?” her mom asked.
Amy’s words tumbled out as limp
and water-laden as she was. “Your piece o’ crap, screwed-up daughter. Isn’t
that what you want me to say?” And, despite herself, a new flood of angst
escaped Amy’s throat. Not rage, but shame, pain and aching need raced out from
her soul and echoed around the shower floor. Once released, her sobs seemed to
have no limits. How could I do this again? Why couldn’t I just control myself?
Everybody else seems to be able to get a grip—why am I such a freak-girl?
People are actually afraid of me! Afraid of me! If they could only see me now,
sobbing in the shower, slobbering down my cheek. Only the constant stream of
water washes my river of snot away. Oh God, what a hot mess I am. What a piece
o’ crap, hot mess.
that’s definitely not what I want from you,” replied Mom, as if she had heard
Amy’s thoughts. “I want a hopeful, dream-filled answer that will define your
goals and pull your life forward. I don’t know how to help you find it, but
it’s certainly not this way.”
had no other answer and simply lay crying in the shower. The water had washed
away all her rage. The mania was ending and depression’s grip was squeezing her
throat. Amy knew her mom would help her. But she didn’t know why she—or
anyone—should, as that voice of shame wrapped its bony fingers around her
skull, taunting her, teasing her. You’re such a screw-up. You’re a burden
on the family. Just disappear, asshole, and never burden your family again.
Really. You know you understand why bipolar kids kill themselves. Wouldn’t that
peace be nice? It would just be so much easier… Life would be so much easier
and empty, Amy had nothing left. She would have told her mother this fight was
not done if she’d had the energy. She would have told her mom ‘thank you’ for
coming to her rescue. But she couldn’t open her mouth to say it. She couldn’t
reached up and turned off the water. She dropped a towel over the back of Amy’s
shoulders. “Come on, get up,” she said as she slowly pulled her daughter to her
feet. “Be careful not to touch the shower door or it might break all over you.”
she began to dry Amy’s hair and face. Like a child, Amy sat on the toilet seat
while her mom removed her shoes and socks then helped her discard her pants and
shirt behind her towel-shield.
walked out of the bathroom and toward her room in a zombie-like trance. As she
passed, she glanced at the living room. Throw pillows were strewn all over the
floor. The plaid easy chair was turned on its side and the flower arrangement
sprinkled like confetti all over the rug.
it up,” her mother had said as the manic had begun. But Amy had only been
able to destroy then. Now she could barely walk.
She stumbled into her room and fell onto her bed. Only
when she had already lain down did she realize that her light was still on. Too
tired to do anything about it, she simply threw her arm over her eyes and fell