Title: How to Live on the Edge
Author: Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Pub Date: 08/04/2020
Genre: Young Adult
Eighteen-year-old Cayenne barely remembers her mother, who died of breast cancer when Cayenne was four. The women in her family have a history of dying young. Cayenne figures she’ll meet the same fate, so she might as well enjoy life now, engaging in death-defying risks like dodging trains and jumping off cliffs with her boyfriend.
When Cayenne receives a series of video messages her mother made for her before dying, she isn’t sure she wants them. Her aunt Tee has been her true mother figure. But then Aunt Tee tests positive for a BRCA gene mutation—the one that doomed Cayenne’s mom—and decides to get a mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing cancer. As Cayenne helps her aunt prepare for the surgery, she finds herself drawn to her mother’s messages, with their musings on life, love, and perseverance. For the first time, Cayenne starts to question what it truly means to live life to the fullest, even when death might be written into her DNA.
How to Live on the Edge is a complex and inspirational young adult novel that caused me to do a lot of introspective thinking. The introduction paragraph alone was such a strong opening and set the tone for the entire book. Cayenne and Saffron were flawed but loving, adventurous, and determined protagonists. Their flaws are what make you empathize and connect with them as they’re two teenage girls just trying to understand their place in the world and find out how they want to live their lives.
I think it’s easy to get annoyed with Cayenne’s inappropriate humor and recklessness, and at first I did feel like that, but then I began to see that she was coping the best way she knew how and just wanted to feel like she was in control of her life and destiny which I think is something many people can relate to. We might not go to the extremes of cliff diving and train dodging, but we all find ways to make us feel alive and that we’re the captain of the ship. This book was also a great look into how loss can affect people differently. Cayenne and Saffron are only a year apart but they handle their mother’s passing and their aunt’s diagnosis of the BRCA gene entirely different. One retreats in and wants to feel protected, safe, and loved by those around her while the other wants to feel untouchable, unreachable, and unknowable. Until she realizes that might not be the best approach.
The journey of discovery that the two sisters go on in this story was emotional at times as they were exposed to truths with no set path on how to address them. I really enjoyed the themes of whether withholding the truth and doing what you think is best is truly best for everyone, the idea of free will, and how much fate plays in role in what we do with our lives. There were no easy answers and no easy outs, but the author showed the strength it takes to “accept the things I cannot change, [and] courage to change the things I can.”
I adore The Bold Type and how they don’t shy away from topics that are typically unseemly for public discussion and viewing. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most is Jane (pictured on the left) and her story line. To not spoil the show, I will leave it at that Jane (who’s mother died of breast cancer when Jane was young) has the BRCA gene mutation and has to make a lot of hard decisions in the show, much like Cayenne and Saffron in How to Live on the Edge. Similarly to the girls in the book, Jane has her future and relationships to take into account with any choice she chooses. And her career is especially one of her main focuses as the show centers on three friends who work in different departments for Scarlet Magazine in NYC.
Sarah Lynn (Scheerger) works as a clinical social worker with at-risk youth, helping them figure out who they are and who they want to be. She also provides counseling to adults and couples. She lives in southern California with her husband and children. Sarah started out writing under her first and middle name (Sarah Lynn) because she thought having a pen name seemed mysterious and cool. However, over time she’s transitioned to writing under her real name as well (both Sarah Scheerger and Sarah Lynn Scheerger). Sarah loves reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Where to Buy
Thank you for reading my review of How to Live on the Edge, and I hope you check it out for yourself when it’s released on August 4th. Also thank you to BookSparks for including me on this book tour and for the free copy of this book. All opinions are my own*