This emotionally charged story of two high school girls battling different illnesses near Asheville, N.C., follows an awkward acquaintanceship that blossoms into a profound, perhaps life-saving friendship. Seventeen-year-old volleyball star Sage’s dreams of going pro are crushed when she is diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition. Meanwhile, her schoolmate Len fears “slowly losing her mind” as she becomes increasingly fearful and less able to control her thoughts and behaviors following a family tragedy. After a couple of uncomfortable encounters at school, the girls become aware of each other’s vulnerabilities and temporarily put aside their own problems in order to reach out. Gradually forming a bond of trust, Sage and Len become confidantes, but the risks they secretly take when alone could lead to at least one of their deaths. Carpenter (Yoga Frog), herself a victim of trauma-induced OCD, draws equally convincing portraits of two suffering teens. Alternating the girls’ points of view, she sharply contrasts their home lives, personalities, and passions while focusing on their fears and despair. Chronicling traumas and the girls’ respective coping mechanisms in ways both genuine and harrowing, Carpenter focuses on hope and the ways friendship can help shine light through the darkness. Ages 13–up. Agent: Victoria Wells Arms, Wells Arms Literary. (Mar.)
Gr 9 Up—Sage doesn't just love volleyball; it's her entire future. This is her senior year, which means she needs to bring her A game for the scouts from her top schools, but an unexpected medical diagnosis pulls the rug out from under her. Suddenly, everything she has worked for, her identity, the driving force in her life, is ripped away from her. Meanwhile, a classmate is struggling to come to terms with her own trauma. Len sees the world through her camera, a barrier that helps keep her from the dirt that itches its way onto her skin. Even if other people can't see it, Len knows it is there. She never used to worry about how dirty her boots were or insist on wearing gloves at all times to keep her hands clean. But Len can't think about before, because then she will have to think about the event that started it all. Len and Sage find themselves orbiting each other; a brief interaction in the hallway at school turns into coffee, which turns into Sage helping Len with her photography project. Len can sense Sage's grief, while Sage is able to see Len's struggle with obsessive behavior. Avoiding focus on the actual trauma and instead showing the effects gives this novel its true voice. This evenly paced book shines a light on the power of friendship and a true friend's ability to hear a cry for help no matter how quiet. Len and Sage experience different types of trauma, giving the story broad appeal. The narrative is hopeful without being preachy or saccharine. VERDICT For readers who enjoy realistic, emotional journeys such as John Corey Whaley's books or Nina LaCour's We Are Okay.—Carrie Finberg, South Park High School, PA
“You have to go through all the darkness….If you don’t, it will devour you.”
Driven, outgoing Sage Zendasky, Southview High’s star volleyball player, scouted by top colleges, finds her world shattered after a medical diagnosis that robs her of the ability to play. The unfortunately named Len Madder, the school outcast, is losing hope of winning the photography scholarship that could get her to college and is crippled by the fear that she’s losing her mind. A moment of under-the-bleachers panic draws the two girls together, and a tentative friendship forms. Finding little support from others, Sage and Len take solace in each other, each girl helping the other to heal. But as they spiral deeper into their private despair, their refusal to realize that they themselves need help might just cost them their friendship—and their lives. Carpenter weaves an incredibly rich tale of female friendship, beautifully written and refreshingly free of romance. Both characters feel wholly realistic in their interactions with each other, their families, their teachers, and their peers. A litany of painful topics—mental health, medical trauma, aging, grief and loss, financial insecurity, social isolation, and more—is handled with a deft touch that is equal parts humorous and heart-wrenching. A description of the author’s own battle with OCD emphasizes the story’s positive attitude toward seeking help.
A powerful, tender reminder of the importance of friendship in times of trauma. (author’s note, mental health resources) (Fiction. 13-adult)
"Equal parts humorous and heartwrenching. . . . A powerful, tender reminder of the importance of friendship in times of trauma."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Carpenter's debut is written with a sure hand; her descriptions of anxiety and OCD are spot-on. Hand to fans of John Green immediately."—Booklist
"This evenly paced book shines a light on the power of friendship and a true friend's ability to hear a cry for help no matter how quiet.... For readers who enjoy realistic, emotional journeys such as John Corey Whaley's books or Nina LaCour's We Are Okay."—School Library Journal
"A heartfelt, poignant, and candid story about the power-and danger-of magical thinking, and the grounding strength of good friends."
—Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
"The Edge of Anything is a gorgeously imagined, tender, irresistible examination of shame and the secrets we keep even from ourselves, but more than that, it is a reminder that vulnerability and truth telling are the best paths to healing and triumph. I can't wait for the world to meet Sage and Len!"
—Estelle Laure, author of This Raging
"An unforgettable story about the power of friendship."—Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death
"The link between the two units is advocacy, for it is of vital importance to have an advocate in life, whether this person be a family member or friend. This is a dynamic story about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit."—School Library Connection