The Edge of Anything
Written by Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Published by Running Press Kids
Available March 24, 2020
Sage is going places: she’s a varsity senior on her school volleyball squad, scouted by Penn State and UNC. But when a court accident leads to a medical disqualification, she’s sent reeling. Her family isn’t helping, and her teammates just don’t get it. But then she meets high school loner Len. Len isn’t going places: Len’s stuck. Ever since a family tragedy, her photography has lacked life and Len has been picking up strange fears: most recently, dirt and the diseases it holds—even though she used to hike the Asheville mountains every day. As Sage and Len’s friendship grows, so does their willingness to face their inner turmoil.
In some ways, this is a tough read. Len, a gifted artist, struggles with grief and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder amidst a troubling family backdrop—a family of free thinkers who believe the mind is enough to cure what ails. Sage, faced with devastating and scary news of a genetic medical condition, also struggles and shuts out her family and friends. Both teenage girls exhibit scary signs that something is wrong, but families, teachers, coaches, and teammates are unable to get through to either girl. Despite the serious topics (mental health, grief, genetic conditions), both Sage and Len are fully realized teenagers—and their big deal topics are imbued with adolescent attitude. Sage doesn’t mean to ice out her teammates, but she thinks that they should be able to intuit what kind of support she needs. Len does not want anyone to feel pity for her family, so she doesn’t seek help or confide in anyone about their financial circumstances. Author Nora Shalaway Carpenter writes the girls’ stories with great care. Her author’s note details her own experience with trauma-induced Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In addition to her own story, she spotlights mental health resources at the close of the book.