Study Guide

Dancing on the Edge Family

By Han Nolan

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No family is without its own special brand of dysfunction, but in Dancing on the Edge, the McCloys are a strange group of characters with serious denial problems. They rewrite their family history, perpetually lie, move back in with divorced spouses, stay in bad relationships, and struggle to communicate on any level. As a result, Miracle's life is in a near-constant state of upheaval.

That said, while the bulk of her family life isn't exactly positive, Miracle's interactions with Granddaddy Opal provide rare stable ground, while Aunt Casey eventually learns to overcome the family's issues and put the past in its proper place. In other words, even with this chaotic lot, family's a mixed bag.

Questions About Family

  1. What do we know about Dane's relationship with his parents? How does it shape Miracle's situation?
  2. What lessons does Miracle learn from Granddaddy Opal? How is she able to apply them in her life after she leaves his house? Give examples from the text.
  3. How does Aunt Casey's attitude toward her family's issues change once she begins taking psychology classes? Be specific, please.
  4. How does Miracle's idea of family change from the beginning of the story to the end?

Chew on This

The first people who treat Miracle with the respect we expect to see shown by family aren't family members at all—they're Juleen and Dr. DeAngelis.

Before she can help the rest of her family, Aunt Casey has to come to terms with her role in Sissy's death and what that means for Miracle.

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