Study Guide

Dancing on the Edge What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Han Nolan

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What's Up With the Epigraph?

Part 1

"I'm Nobody! Who are you?"—Emily Dickinson

Part 2

"The Truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind."—Emily Dickinson

When Juleen Presque shows up at Miracle's house to tell her that she knows the truth about her love spells (and Gigi), she doesn't crush Miracle's dreams and leave her with nothing—nope, she leaves behind a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry.

"You read the poems," she tells Miracle. "They're true. They're the truest, realest thing I know. You need that, I think. You're like me. You need the truth" (16.87). While it takes some time after Miracle's burning incident to get the book back in her hands, Dickinson's work eventually gives her something powerful to relate to as she recovers.

When read together, the two Dickinson quotes Nolan selects as epigraphs provide a panoramic picture of Miracle's journey throughout the story. In Part 1, she struggles with having a sense of her own identity, even having difficulty believing that she exists. She belongs to a family that, in trying to make something heroic of Sissy's suicide, has actually turned Miracle into "nobody."

In Part 2, she "gradually" comes out of the stupor of Gigi's control and becomes aware of the truths of both her past and her identity. What she learns is so powerful and life-changing, though, that she can't just sit down with Dr. DeAngelis and Aunt Casey, learn some stuff about her mom, and be done with it. It's taken her a long time to become the way she is, and it will be a long process of recovery before she can have a normal life—in order to really find her way, she needs to take her time.

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