Drawing on her own experiences as an inheritor of the BRCA gene, author Sarah Scheerger weaves a sensitive meditation on life and death into an uplifting story of an unconventional family.

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.


In addition to writing, Sarah Lynn Scheerger works as a clinical social worker with at-risk youth. She loves reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends. She lives in southern California with her husband and children.


Told with humor and truth, this story of a young woman navigating loss, devastating secrets, and the reality of her own mortality 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.

Honest and real, How to Live on the Edge is a gift to young readers living in the frightening shadow of a genetic curse.

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.

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