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.
Available on May 5, 2020.
Read an Excerpt
Read an excerpt from How to Live on and Edge.
What People are Saying
“An engaging tale of vulnerability and control.” – Kirkus Reviews
“An important addition to young adult literature.” – Booklist
“A stirring story filled with heart and soul, and one that will dare you to rethink what it truly means to be brave and alive!” – Mary Rand Hess, New York Times bestselling author of Solo and Swing
“Told with humor and truth, this story of a young woman navigating loss, devastating secrets, and the reality of her own impending death is made richer for the unique and hopeful bond she shares with her sister, the unfamiliar love she discovers with a family she thought she understood – and the strength she needs to save herself.” – Jennifer Longo, author of What I Carry, Up to this Pointe, and Six Feet Over It
“From jumping off cliffs to leaping into the uncertainty of life and the possibility she may have the BRCA gene that killed her mother, Cayenne is a perfectly-flawed and fearless heroine who we want to defy the odds. As Cayenne and her sister work through a series of video images their mother left to them before succumbing to cancer and their own conflicted relationship, her ideas about family, romance, womanhood, and the future are unraveled, torn, and reknit. Burgeoning with questions like can we love after we’ve lost and can we fight fate, this powerful story answers yes!” – NoNieqa Ramos, author of The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary and The Truth Is
“In Cayenne and Saffron, Sarah Lynn Scheerger creates fearless, compassionate, empowered sisters who, in figuring out what kind of women they want to be, love on the edge and steal your heart like they stole mine.” – Gaby Triana, author of Wake the Hollow, Cakespell, and Summer of Yesterday
“Cancer took Cayenne’s mom, it’s gunning for her aunt, and she’s sure she’s next. But as long-held secrets upend Cayenne’s world, she learns that defying death isn’t about facing down trains or jumping off cliffs— it’s learning to live and love with every ounce of your being. Honest and real, HOW TO LIVE ON THE EDGE, is a gift to young readers living in the frightening shadow of a genetic curse.” – Catherine Linka, author of What I Want You to See, A Girl Called Fearless, and A Girl Undone
“Scheerger drops us into the psyche of a snarky, irresistible teen who’s navigating the dangers of a life-threatening gene mutation. The voice is authentic and emotionally passionate in this headlong page-turner.” – Sherry Shahan, author Skin and Bones as well as many other books for young readers
Managing Cancer Risk
Cancer Treatment, Research, Resources, and Support
- American Cancer Society
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- HIS Breast Cancer Awareness
- Male Breast Cancer Coalition
- National Cancer Institute
- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
- When Your Parent Has Cancer: A Guide for Teens (PDF)
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