How To Live on the Edge

Carolrhoda. May 2020. 312p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781541578890.
Gr 9 Up–Breast cancer runs in Cayenne’s family, and she is planning on living every day to the fullest. Because of the high risk of inheriting the BRCA gene mutation that already claimed her mother’s life when she was little, Cayenne is an adrenaline junkie who dodges trains and jumps off cliffs just for the rush. When they lost their mom, Cayenne and her sister, Saffron, were taken in by their young aunt, who undergoes a preventative mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting what they call the “Silk family curse.” When the sisters receive a series of videos filmed by their mother before her passing, family secrets will come into the open, including the identity of the father they never knew. Too many changes put Cayenne on edge, and when tragedy strikes, she’ll have to ask herself if everyone and everything she loves are worth risking. This novel deals with some important issues such as body image and the definition of femininity. Are breasts and ovaries what make a woman? And if she must have them removed, will she still feel desirable? Readers will root for Cayenne despite the many mistakes she makes.
VERDICT This book has a strong character arc and can be used as a starting point to talk to teenagers about life choices, identity, and the inescapable reality of life-ending diseases. Recommended for libraries where books about medical issues and family secrets circulate well.

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