How to Live on the Edge

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2020

Member Reviews

A beautiful and masterfully written story. Wonderful for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Lurlene McDaniel, but more upbeat. You'll laugh and cry and fall in love. I recommend for mature readers due to subjects that may confuse young readers.
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Great character development and the plot is intricate! The main character deals with personal struggles and tries to find her way after the death of a loved one. Supporting characters are developed and help move the plot along. This is a great read if you like books about personal struggles and the toll it takes on individuals trying to find their way in life after the loss of a loved one.
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How to Live on the Edge is a book that hits close to home. Cancer, in many forms, has touched too many parts of loved ones lives but especially breast cancer. I wanted to love this book more than I did because of that. It was still a nice story, though, and if you like contemporary, or like so many others, feel you can relate in some way, you should give How to Live on the Edge a try. 💖
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I never thought much about the risk of breast cancer I have, but now I find myself booking an appointment with a gene specialist. This book hurts, in the best possible way and makes me want to push to advocate for my own health.
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'How to live on the Edge' by Sarah Lynn Scheerger, is a heartwarming story which follows two sisters, whose mother died of breast cancer when they were very young. The women in their family don't live past 40 and they have pretty much got it into their heads that they will also die. They receive a series of videos their mother recorded before she died which brings a lot of things into perspective for them. It deals with the tough questions that people with the BRCA gene mutation or with cancer in the family have to ask themselves everyday. How do you live life to the fullest? I did really enjoy this books and it was a really nice read. 

There was no major plot line, but it was so wonderful to see a YA novel that was a little bit unique, and dealt with such a serious topic. I enjoyed following the relationship between the two sisters and how strong they were (I also found it a bit annoying at times) ! There were really positive views on romantic relationships which was fantastic, rather than your typical YA book where the female characters throw themselves at their love interest. But at times I found the book a bit boring, and I think the themes could have gone a lot deeper than they did. The videos from the mother were also a bit unrealistic and I found them a little forced. Overall, it was a really nice read which I did enjoy.
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(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.)

This was a very touching story about two sisters with two very different personalities who lost their mother to cancer at a young age. I thought this book did a very good job of showing a sisterly bond that grows stronger as the book progresses. Despite what many may think, breast cancer is something that is not exclusive to older women and it is refreshing to read a YA book that will educate young women about it. 
As someone with a family background similar to Saf and Cay, this book made me reassess my situation and made me question whether I carry the BRCA gene, something unheard of to me until now.
On a lighter side, I really enjoyed the sister storyline with Saf and Cay; I believe they have a very special bond and thought that they balanced each other perfectly.  Though Cay was a little immature at times, I came to love her as the book ended.  Overall, I thought this book was very educative and beautiful. I hope to read more from the author.
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***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of HOW TO LIVE ON THE EDGE by Sarah Lynn Scheerger in exchanging for my honest review.***


Women in the Silk family die before they reach forty, including Cayenne’s mother. At eighteen, assuming half her life is over, she risks her life with daredevil stunts. Cayenne and her sister Saffron learn their mom left behind  six videos of love and advice. Around the same time, their guardian Aunt Tee learns she has the BRCA mutation and decides to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy hoping to prevent cancer. The sisters must decide whether to be tested and how to proceed if they have one of the genes.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, genetic testing was in its infancy and not covered by insurance. I participated in a clinical study and my genes became part of a study not just for the BRCA genes, but over the years all possible genetic anomalies that indicate a higher risk I’d breast cancer. Every five years or so I was asked whether I wanted to continue participation as the genome was mapped. The last time I spoke with the genetic counselor over 100 different gene mutations had been identified with increased breast cancer risk and I had none of them. I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction, hoping to make breast cancer a one shot deal. So far, so good. 

Due to my personal connection with the events in HOW TO LIVE ON THE EDGE,  I found putting myself in Cayenne’s, Saffron’s and Tee’s shoes very easy. I identified least with Cayenne, probably because I’m the polar opposite of a risk taker. Even when I was a kid, I’d picture myself in similar situations as protagonists in books and movies, figuring out what I’d do. Cayenne’s reactions to Tee’s cancer prevention decisions felt foreign. Saffron’s proves made a lot more sense.

The videos and journals from the sisters’ mom didn’t feel organic. Having watched several of my breast cancer survivor friends due, some with kids, none were organized enough that far in advance. Even the ones who planned to write letters never got around to it, partially due to denial about prognosis and time remaining.  I offered to help one friend with such plans and she always said, “it’s not time yet” until she ran out of time. For me, the inclusion in the mom’s messages detracted, rather than added to the story.

Cayenne’s strong sense of self and her determination that sex ought to be to please herself, not her boyfriend had me cheering out loud. Assertive sexual positivity, no matter what characters decide to do or not do, gives readers role models they may not see in real life.

HOW TO LIVE ON THE EDGE isn’t my favorite of Sarah Lynn Scheerger’s books though is a satisfying, informative story with a narrator who experiences much growth throughout the book so I  definitely recommend.
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