NC Literary Hall of Fame



Behind These Hands by Linda Vigen Phillips

Light Messages
$11.32, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-61153-259-3
July, 2018
Fiction: YA / Verse
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"In Behind These Hands, Linda Vigen Phillips’s lyrical language paints a vivid picture of a world colored by a crushing disease. My sister was born with Batten disease, and this story’s emotionally charged moments bear an uncanny resemblance to scenes from my own life. Whether or not you’ve heard of Batten disease, read this book. You’ll discover, along with Phillips’s teenage heroine, how to face the prospect of losing someone you love and still face the day."
—Laura King Edwards, author, speaker, and co-founder of Taylor’s Tale, the world’s leading charity focused on eradicating infantile Batten disease

"A beautiful story! Lyrical and poignant. Emotional and heart-grabbing. The love we feel for family and complications it can bring are all over every page. You'll have a hard time putting this verse novel down."
—Skila Brown, author of Caminar

Piano prodigy Claire Fairchild, age fourteen, has always known music would be her life. So when she has the opportunity to enter a prestigious contest, she goes all in—until she realizes she’s also competing against Juan, a close childhood friend and one of the most talented musicians she knows. It doesn’t help that her thoughts about him are turning romantic.

When Claire and her family receive a devastating blow from Batten disease, her world enters a tailspin. Claire decides her musical goals no longer seem relevant. She can’t reconcile the joy that music would bring to her life while her brothers succumb to an early and ugly death. Her decision puts everything at risk: her friendship with Juan, her parents’ expectations, and her own happiness.

After Claire accompanies a friend on a school newspaper assignment, she meets a centenarian with a surprising musical past and only one regret in life. Claire knows something in her life has to change before it’s too late, but she’s not sure she has the courage to take the next step.

Linda Vigen Phillips has a passion for realistic fiction that offers hope and encouragement to young adults and families facing mental or physical health crises. Her debut book, Crazy, depicts the struggles of a teenage girl in the 1960s coming to terms with her mother’s bipolar disorder. It was named a notable Social Studies Trade Book, listed as one of the NY Public Library’s Best Books for teens, and one of Bank Street College of Education’s best children’s books of the year, among other accolades. Like her debut book, Behind These Hands is a Young Adult verse novel. The protagonist must decide how to reconcile her musical giftedness with the rare neurodegenerative disease that is slowly stealing her brothers’ lives. Linda enjoys advocating for better mental health through National Alliance for Mental Illness, conducting writing workshops, and spending time with her grandkids. She lives in Charlotte, where she and her husband love to sit on their screened porch and watch the grass grow.

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