Adams will sign ‘Over the Edge’ Aug. 16 at Longs’

John Christensen The Chronicle-Express
Local author Laurie Gifford Adams will sign her new book, “Over the Edge,” at Longs’ Cards & Books Saturday, Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Local author Laurie Gifford Adams will sign her new book, “Over the Edge,” at Longs’ Cards & Books Saturday, Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Over the Edge” centers on 14-year-old Dylan Westcott ,whose family moves from Manhattan after Erik, his 6-year-old brother with autism, nearly dies in a freak accident. Relocating to Keuka Lake with his parents, Dylan’s summer of freedom is stolen, and he’s tied down taking care of Erik – with help from Scout, Erik’s new assistance dog. The one up side to the move is his new neighbor, Willow Anderson - a fun irresistible girl who challenges all the rules, but her brother, Brock, is a dangerous and unstable bully. Dylan vows to protect Willow, and standing up to her brother seems like the right thing – until it puts everything else, including his life, at risk. Like her last book, “Finding Atticus,” from 2009, “Over the Edge” is set in the fictional town of Keuka Shores, based on Chidsey’s Gully near Branchport.

“It’s a coming of age story,” says Adams, “with the two main themes having to do with autism (and learning acceptance and tolerance for those who are diffrent) and bullying. I taught middle school for 26 years, and dealt a lot with bullying. I also taught a few students with autism, so I got to witness the daily struggles with peers and in their personal lives. I feel that autism is terribly misunderstood.” Adams hopes readers will come to understand “While people with autism do have challenges, they also have very positive qualities that make them special as well. I also hope readers learn that patience and kindness goes a long way to help a child or family who are dealing with autism every day. So many behaviors that outsiders view as ‘bratty’ are actually a frustration that comes from the child with autism not being able to express themselves the way most of us take for granted. Perhaps with the increasing number of those diagnosed will also come more awareness and understanding. I can only hope this book will play a role in that.” Adams plans to donate a portion of the book’s sales to two or three autism awareness groups.

Though it is classified as a young adult novel, readers’ reviews describe it as an excellent book for all ages. “I think adult readers are enjoying the realistic characters whose conflicts are realistic, as well,” Adams says “Readers have told me that they get so caught up in the characters that it doesn’t matter that it’s a story with teenagers as the main characters. As adults, they like to see how the characters work through the problems.”

Like her previous novel, “Over the Edge” features animals prominently. “I have always been the animal lover in the family, even as a child... I think like most animal lovers, I found a certain comfort in having that loyal friend always with me. Having animals around also taught me to value and respect all life - human and animal – and learned responsibility by taking care of them. I made sure we had animals when our children were growing up because I wanted them to also learn to respect life and learn responsibility by helping care for the animals.”