Outside the Lines is a fantastic book club choice. Guaranteed to foster some heated discussions and engage your club long enough to finish off those excellent bottles of wine that you ordered at the start of your evening!
The novel opens with 10 year old Eden discovering her father's botched suicide attempt. This event proves to be the final strain in the marriage and Eden's parents divorce soon after.
Years later, Eden is now a young career woman. She's an aspiring chef hoping to have her own restaurant one day. Haunted by the disappearance of her father from her life all those years ago, she sets out to find him. As part of her quest, she volunteers in a downtown Seattle shelter cheffing up delights for the patrons. There, she meets the boss - Jack Baker. Jack helps Eden in her mission and she grows to come to terms with her father's illness and life choices. Jack and Eden's friendship blooms as their connection deepens throughout the journey.
The story's oscillation between the hopeful present and the past does a delightful job of lightening up serious subject matter. The charm of the present will help readers to grow towards acceptance of the past and keep engaged along the way. Book clubs can expect to experience some great dialogues about the differing philosophies and treatments of those with mental illnesses.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A brave story well told!Feb. 7 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Publisher's synopsis: When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents' divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden's life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he's been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all. Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths--not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found--Eden is forced to decide just how far she'll go in the name of love.
My thoughts about Outside The Lines: Rarely do I comment about titles of books, but I have to commend whoever named this book! Author Amy Hatvany's story of Eden, her father David and her mother is a heart breaking saga of discovery, truth and pain that really does exist "outside the lines."
This is a remarkable story told in an amazing manner. Mental illness, and the repercussions that come to the families affected by the symptoms and realities of a mentally unbalanced family member are hard for to me to read from a personal viewpoint. What moved me the most is the remarkable way Hatvany switched from character to character, with different voices and also different time lines so seamlessly that the reader never losses focus so the reader easily follows the story that Hatvany is telling.
As Eden literally uncovers, layer by layer, the truths and lies and distortions that occurred in her family, she moves forward in her search to get the answers that have been haunting her all her life. Perhaps Eden's biggest leap of faith comes when she meets David in the homeless shelter where she volunteers. Can she develop a relationship that's grounded? Can she trust? In the end, will the truth complete her?
I can't recommend Outside The Lines enough. It's a well crafted, heartwarming story of one woman's struggle to step "outside the lines," to work through the scars of the past, and one day triumph. Hatvany did a brilliant job showing how the effects of one unstable person can permanently affect everyone in their world.
** This book was provided to my by the publisher, and that in no way affected my honest opinion of this book.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Mental IllnessFeb. 13 2012
Mary E. Young
- Published on Amazon.com
I originally thought that this book was a biography. The characters were so realistic and the plot line was engaging and fascinating. The book jumps back in forth in time, following Eden when she was ten years old and was coping with her father's (David), growing mental illness. Twenty years later it shows Eden running a catering company with dreams of finding the father she hasn't heard from since a suicide attempt when she was almost eleven. As the story jumps back in time it also shows David's point of view as he deteriorates mentally, tries to hold himself together and ultimately fails. I couldn't put this book down. I was very invested in the characters and found myself rooting for Eden as she searched for her dad. Overall, I highly recommend this book.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A beautifully wrought novelFeb. 10 2012
Wendy L. Hines
- Published on Amazon.com
Eden loved playing with her father and he was a great teacher in an unorthodox way. She knew he had a mental illness but was optimistic that he would get better. Sometimes he had bad days and sometimes he had good days, but she was just grateful that he was there.
David had huge mood swings, from anger to depression to elation, as well as voices talking in his head. He tried to be the husband and father that his family needed, but it was just not him. He wanted to be who he was without conforming to what society dictated how he should act and he should perform. But eventually the demons became too much for him and he tried to kill himself one afternoon. Unfortunately, his young daughter Eden found him, bleeding out.
David never came home. He went to a psychiatric hospital and his wife presented him with divorce papers. He spends the next twenty years in and out of mental institutions and living on the street. He is a gifted artist and he uses his ability to get by.
Eden becomes a chef and is very good at what she does. Her love life though, is lacking. Knowing her father never stayed, never communicated after he left, she is afraid to commit to any relationship. But when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Eden knows she can't leave things where they are. She wants to find her father so that she can forgive him and move on with her life.
With the help of a local homeless shelter and Jack Baker, the shelter's handsome owner, Eden sets out on a journey of the heart. But will she find what she is really looking for or was it in her backyard all along?
Outside the Lines is a beautifully wrought novel that pulls at the heartstrings. A story about family, tragedy, love, hope and being free to be whom you are, Amy Hatvany does an impeccable job of writing such a heart-breaking, yet inspiring novel. Realistic and complex characters, eloquent writing, and an in-depth taste of how mental illness affects everyone surrounding them, Outside the Lines is a well-recommended read!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
good book but a little to syrupyJuly 17 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
This story is told from two points of view - daughter and her mentally ill father. It's also skips between present and past. I think the author handled all that quite smoothly. I found the present day daughter's story boring and unbelievable. It's basically a romance where everyone is good and funny and warm hearted and interested in dating and men. The characters do a lot of winking and smiling. I didn't find the character's single-minded search for her father particularly believable, nor did I find her very likable. The young daughter is more believable. I found the father the most interesting character and I thought the author did a good job of conveying what it must be like to be mentally off. There's a lot of the same emotion over and over, which also detracted from the story and made it seem more one dimensional that need be. It's a book which interested me enough to pick it up and then to read it all the way through, and while I had issues with it, I did enjoy it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Another great read by Amy HatvanyFeb. 26 2012
Wanda (Good Choice Reading)
- Published on Amazon.com
I do not know where to begin, but this book had me crying so much throughout the whole story, that I lost count. I feel when a book can affect you in that kind of way, it means it was very well written and the author did her job as a novelist to capture her readers. And by doing so, this book will be a great success. I read Hatvany's other book called "Best Kept Secret" (Click title for review) and it captivated me and brought me to tears as well. So when I saw her new title on Netgalley, I knew I had to read it. I guess you can say I like to cry. LOL. Now because of the impact of these two novels, I searched for her previous work and bought her first published book called "The language of sisters." This book looks like another tear jerker. I can't wait to read it.
I was blessed to have both parents while growing up. But sadly many children in this world has to grow up in a single parent household. And that's what happened in this story. Eden had both of her parents up to the age of ten. But her father's mental status and instability has led to her parents' divorce. In this story Eden starts going through changes after the divorce that she carries with her throughout her adult life. And as a reader, the author has you going through every emotion along with Eden. You feel her pain, anger and sadness.
The emptiness Eden feels in her heart is too much for her to endure on her own. So she's pretty lucky to have a great support system. One of them being her best friend named Georgia and I love her! She has spunk to tell you the truth and then sensitivity to know when to hear Eden out or let her be. The struggles Eden goes through will have you crying. Throughout the whole story, you'll find yourself rooting for her and crossing your fingers that everything works out to her advantage. "Outside the lines" was another win for Hatvany. If you're into tear jerkers then this is the story for you. A definite Good Choice for Reading.