Publication Date: 7th February 2012
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.
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.