She almost didn’t make it. Fifteen-year-old Sage was close to death, and now she’s been confined to a rehab facility in the woods of Connecticut, far from her old life. But the problems she faces have come with her—and now her mother, Julia, must decide what to do next.

As Sage begins treatment for bipolar disorder, Julia continues an exhausting internal debate about how they reached such a low point. Are Sage’s depressive episodes due to genetics, or is her parenting to blame? The increasing unreliability of Sage’s father, Mike, hasn’t helped either. Sage can tell his focus is elsewhere.

After her release back to high school, Sage still struggles to overcome the adversity she faces. Her unfair expulsion from school adds further frustration for both mother and daughter—so much so that Sage is tempted to run away.

A profound tale of what it means to live with mental illness, Painting Sage illustrates the whole person behind the struggle. Sage’s challenges will continue—and she must learn how to build a life she loves in spite of them.