Tuesday, February 7, 2012

(16)Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany

Outside the Lines 

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Pages: 384

Amy Hatvany made a splash on the literary scene last year with her debut novel, Best Kept Secret, which made a lot of "Best of 2011" lists.  Including my own.  In her second novel, Outside the Lines, Amy Hatvany takes on another form of illness, mental illness.

Eden has known for most of her life that her Daddy was "sick" and needed to take meds. She witnessed fights between her parents over the meds, but she never really understood why. And when Eden was a very young ten years old when she discovered her beloved Father laying on the bathroom floor bleeding after a suicide attempt.  It was the last time that she saw him.  Flash forward nearly twenty years and Eden is a very successful Chef who has discovered that her Mother kept her Father from contacting her after the suicide attempt.  Eden sees this as a great betrayal and sets off to find her Father.

Her search takes her to the Hope House.  A homeless shelter in the heart of Seattle.  If her Father was living on the streets, odds are someone at the Hope House has heard of him.  Eden decides to volunteer her skills and cook for the shelter on Tuesday nights.  While volunteering Eden discovers this whole other world in which she feels very comfortable and at the center of that world is Jack Baker, the Hope House's director. With Jack's help Eden continues her search and discovers that no matter how much she wants to, she can not make her Father magically appear and have a perfect relationship with him.  Will Eden be able to accept her Father for who he really is or is she doomed to being perpetually disappointed in his behavior.

Just like in Best Kept Secrets, there were times where I had a really hard time liking the main character.  While I understand Eden's anger at her mother, at times her behavior towards her mother and step-father was truly deplorable.  And when she took it out on Jack? I was ready to be done with her.  But just when I couldn't stand it any further, Eden realized the error of her ways.  I know it sounds bad, but even with her character flaws, Outside the Lines is a very well written novel. Written in the alternating voices of Eden and her Father you truly get to see both sides of this story. Mental illness is one of the last disabilities to gain understanding and acceptance with the public and the author did a really good job of bringing light to that injustice.

Outside the Lines is another home run for Amy Hatvany.  Her talent for creating thought provoking story lines with somewhat flawed characters is evident with every word written in Outside the Lines.  If you are looking for your next Book Club read, consider Outside the Lines, it is sure to generate great discussions.


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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