Linda Vigen Phillips' passion is creating realistic fiction that offers hope to teens and their families who face mental or physical health challenges. Her debut book, Crazy, depicts the struggles of a teenage girl in the 1960' s coming to terms with her mother's bipolar disorder. It earned such accolades in 2015 as lndieFab Book of the Year Finalist, short-list for SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and Honor book for Paterson Prize for Books.
Like Crazy, Behind These Hands is a Young Adult verse novel. When her brothers are diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare neurodegenerative disorder that will bring early death, piano-prodigy Clair must decide how to deal with the ticking clock, her own dreams, and the need for a celebration of life.
Linda enjoys advocating for better mental health through her involvement with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI}, conducting writing workshops, and spending time with her grandkids. She lives in Charlotte, NC where she and her husband love to sit on the screened porch to watch the grass grow. Visit Linda online at https://www.lindavigenphillips.com/.
"a richly woven, unforgettable symphony of feelings and words"
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
Fourteen-year-old Claire Fairchild knew from an early age that she had hands made for the keyboard and a future full of music. Entering a prestigious music contest means competing against her childhood friend, Juan, just as her feelings towards him are becoming more complicated.
Claire's younger brother, Davy, undergoes extensive tests to determine why his learning and visual difficulties are worsening. Claire struggles to balance the tension at home with contest preparations. No one is prepared for the news that Davy has an incurable childhood disease called Batten. Shortly after Claire enters the contest, DNA testing reveals that her youngest brother, Trent, also has Batten and Claire is a carrier.
While attending a conference on Batten Disease, Claire receives word that she has won the contest. Her musical dreams no longer seem relevant and she struggles to reconcile her goals with the realities of her brothers' declining health and probable early deaths. When Claire accompanies a friend on a school newspaper assignment, she meets a centenarian with a colorful musical past and only one regret in life. This inspires Claire to use her talent in a new way to celebrate the lives of her brothers before it's too late.
Awards, Reviews, and Coverage
"This is a compelling story in whose heroine other struggling teens might see themselves." –Foreword Reviews
"A beautiful story! Lyrical and poignant. Emotional and heart-grabbing." –Skila Brown, award winning author of Caminar
"The stream-of-consciousness narrative allows readers to participate in Claire’s internal struggles, deepening the psychological intensity of the story... This affecting portrait of a family in crisis will win hearts." – Anne O'Malley, Booklist
"an excellent portrayal of a first-hand account of what it’s like to live alongside Batten disease" –LitPick Book Reviews