Where Readers & Writers Connect
Review by Chris Stachura
Strap those bars on the roller coaster, hang on tight, and get ready to head Over the Edge with Brandilyn Collins!
A malevolent figure out for revenge breaks into Janessa McNeil’s home while she and her daughter are sleeping, and her husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, is away. This person purposely places three ticks into her hair and leaves them to infect her, which they do.
There’s so much brilliance about this novel. The crisp, short sentences and purposeful word choices. The taut delivery style. Collins’ tells it through the voice of Janessa as the main character and narrator, which makes it that much more urgent. The setup of the novel, which takes place basically over six days, brings home the challenge to Janessa from the bad man: to change her husband’s mind on his views about the existence of chronic Lyme disease, and for him to publicly announce those changed views.
You’ll find many hard-to-turn-away yet hard-to-read scenes throughout the book, especially reading the progression of Janessa’s sickness. Her faith in God, ultimately, is what carries her through. Even with tension at home, and her infection complicated by arguments over treatment, she turns to Scripture. The first time it happens it touches me to my core:
“’Please help me. I’m drowning here.’
“From somewhere in the depths of me vague words arose and shimmered. ‘God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble.’ Where was that from? A psalm? Wherever it came from, I needed that kind of promise right now. I repeated it aloud. Wrapped the words around my heart.”
Over the Edge is a novel about revenge, survival, deep abiding maternal love, instinct, and ultimately, faith. It’s about knowing that God will come through in His promises; that He always makes good. Please note that I read this book not once, but twice, and was thrilled and moved even more the second time around.
Chris Stachura lives, writes and knits in Michigan. Her current projects include a collaboration with thirteen other authors, a nonfiction book, and baby blanket for her great niece. She loves to read, and you can follow her yarns at k2togyarnsandwords.com.