Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany

Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: 7th February 2012
Pages: 384
Book Source: Simon & Schuster  & NetGalley

Synopsis: When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life.

Twenty years later, Eden runs a successful catering company and dreams of opening a restaurant. Since childhood, she has heard from her father only rarely, just enough to know that he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately there has been no word at all. After a series of failed romantic relationships and a health scare from her mother, Eden decides it’s time to find her father, to forgive him at last, and move forward with her own life. Her search takes her to a downtown Seattle homeless shelter, and to Jack Baker, its handsome and charming director. Jack convinces Eden to volunteer her skills as a professional chef with the shelter. In return, he helps her in her quest.

As the connection between Eden and Jack grows stronger, and their investigation brings them closer to David, Eden must come to terms with her true emotions, the secrets her mother has kept from her, and the painful question of whether her father, after all these years, even wants to be found.

My Thoughts:
Best Kept Secret was one of the select few 5 star reads on my favourite read list in 2011 so I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of Outside the Lines. In trademark style Amy once again tackles an issue loaded with prejudice and judgement with honesty and compassion.

This author truly has a gift, her writing is heartfelt with a depth of understanding that takes your breath away. As Eden begins the search for her father, Amy seamlessly guides the reader back and forth in time, through the alternating narrations of Eden West and her mentally ill father, David. 

It's a traumatic thing to come to terms with and accept that sometimes love just isn't enough for someone with mental illness, It is beyond difficult to not take it personally, especially when children are involved. I remember the distress, the begging, the threats, the hurt and pain, the thoughts ... if you loved us, you would stay on your medication. Amy Hatvany has captured this effortlessly but what really blew me away was the uniquely intimate view of David's troubled mind, his dark thoughts and internal struggles permitted me insight and empathy I wouldn't otherwise have experienced.

In Outside the Lines I was really challenged to look at the issue of the rights of the mentally ill and homeless. What right do we have to say what's 'normal', to demand someone live a certain way, to behave within certain socially acceptable confines, to receive treatment. While logically I understand the right anyone has to make their own life choices, to accept or refuse treatment, emotionally I struggled with the issue that one person's mental illness, like many other chronic illnesses is not that person's alone. It can be an ongoing nightmare for loved ones and the ripple effects can be profound.

The doctor had already decided how she was going to treat him after reading his chart. She hadn't even waited to meet him. That's what they all did. Not one of them said, "David, do you want to be on Lithium? Do you want to stop drinking?" They all assumed that he would. His daughter assumed the same thing.

... makes you think doesn't it?

While this is Eden and David's story, Amy doesn't skimp on the development of other  characters. Eden's relationships with her family and friends are well portrayed. I particularly enjoyed the time Eden spends at the shelter, Hope House, and of course with Jack. And Georgia ... you've got to love a best friend who has a sense of humour, who's not afraid to speak up and tell a truth you may not want to hear.

"oh fine, you'll die alone and stray cats will eat your face, but whatever."

I know I've rambled, but I've continued to think and talk about Outside the Lines long after turning the last page with a tear (or two). This is is a brilliant book for eliciting an emotional response and ongoing thought and debate. Beautifully written and bittersweet ... Bravo Amy!

Want to know more about this wonderful author and her work? ~ visit Amy Hatvany's website.


  1. Wow!! This sounds really GOOD!! I need to add this to my list!!

    1. Let me know what you think Julie if you get a chance to read it which I highly recommend you do LOL

  2. I am not that drawn to it, but your review makes me think that I should think about it some more

    1. Both Amy's books that I've read were brilliantly written, definitely worth a try B :)

  3. This one sounds intense, but well handled enough to be a satisfying experience. Thanks!

  4. Have I told you how wonderful your reviews are? You have a gift of writing my dear lady. I now want to read both of these books by this author!

    1. Staci, ooh you say the sweetest things Staci, I really do think you'd love Amy's writing!

  5. I must read Best Kept Secret. I enjoyed Outside the Lines as well - a great review!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  6. This looks like a book I could really enjoy, if that's the right word. Great review.

  7. Even though I've only had this book a couple of weeks, I simply must move it up on my reading list. I loved Best Kept Secret...and this one sounds just as awesome. It's great that the author explores the inner world of the characters and shows the reader what we couldn't otherwise know.

    I enjoy stories about family dysfunction, mental health issues, etc. Reminiscent of my days in social work, and unlike many of my colleagues, I devour these kinds of books.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome review.

  8. This sounds like a very powerful story. Mental illness is very difficult to deal with. Question of rights and being able to make one's own decision is always a struggle, especially for the family when they know the meds could be helpful.
    I will have to keep this book in mind for a future read.


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