Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5


Eden knew at an early age that her father was different but she loved him wholeheartedly and tried her best to keep him happy. Her mother was her constant parent; she was the one to be trusted, her father was impulsive and unreliable. When Eden was ten years old, she came home to find the bathroom mirror shattered and her father bleeding out on the bathroom floor, attempting to take his own life. Eden was distraught and called emergence services. Her mother finally had enough, love was not enough for David, she filed divorce papers and David was served while institutionalized. Eden is now thirty, a successful chef and her father is still on her mind. She received two letters from her father since he was taken away, and Eden was too angry to respond. Eden stood by her father through thick and thin until he was taken away from her. Initially, she resented her mother, and then she became angry that her father would not try and contact her, now she is ready to forgive but doesn’t know where to find him. Eden can’t forget the bond that she had with her father, even when his illness took over his thoughts, she knew he loved her. He loved her the only way he knew how. He was stuck between voices in his head, or medication that left him fuzzy. He had no escape, and could only suppress his illness for a limited time. She wonders if her father is dead or alive, has he been properly medicated or is he living on the streets. Eden has so many questions, and begins to seek answers.


Outside the Lines is an amazing, heart-wrenching novel. Mental illness is not an easy topic, this is probably not a book that I would normally pick up, but I loved Hatvany’s first novel Best Kept Secret and wanted to see if I would enjoy this one as well. I came away from this novel thinking, there is more than one way to love someone. Sometimes you need to step back, and understand that some issues are not just black or white. Hatvany does an astounding job portraying mental illness, and the impact is has on everyone.

Amy Hatvany gives a voice to all parties involved. The characters come alive, and their stories are so real and unbiased. Eden is the primary narrator of the story, but readers also peak into David’s troubled mind. It’s terrifying to get a glimpse of David’s mine, and not easy to write him off as a horrible father. Readers understand that David loves his daughter, he struggles to get better but ultimately he can’t control himself. Her mother is stuck between loving her husband, wanting to do what’s best for him, but her daughter deserves a normal childhood. Love can not cure David, as much as they both want that to be enough, it isn’t.

I will warn you, don’t pick up this book if you only have ten minutes to spare because you will not want to put the book down. Outside the Lines is much more than a good read, it is a thought provoking book that will stay with you long after you close the pages. I can’t recommend this book enough!

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  1. This sounds so good. I call tell you really loved it. On the list it goes.

  2. It's always heart wrenching to read about children having to deal with their parents' mental health issues. I've heard great things about her books. I should consider reading one!

  3. I featured this book but also want to read it in detail, when I have more than 10 minutes, as you suggest!

  4. This book sounds like it would be a very emotional read. Books about mental illness can be difficult to read but this one sounds like it would be worth the time.

  5. Sounds like a fantastic novel. Nice review!

  6. This sounds really excellent - great review! Ordinarily I would shy away from books like this, but you definitely have me interested!

  7. Wow! Great review. I'm going to put this one on my list.

  8. This sounds like an amazing story, thanks so much for the review Jennifer! I love that the characters all come to life on the pages, I love to love characters - it's my favorite part of reading. While the mental illness aspect sounds heavy, it also sounds really powerful and that makes me want to give this one a try even though it's not one I would typically pick up!

  9. Mental illness is difficult to read about, but I think reading books like that helps us have empathy for others. This book sounds excellent.

  10. I have been eager to read this book since seeing some of the first reviews. It does sound amazingly complex and also very interesting as well. I am going to have to see if I can grab this one soon. I loved reading your thoughtful analysis. It was extremely well rendered.

  11. Oh my gosh, this book sounds absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I can't imagine how difficult it would be to deal with a parent who had mental health issues, and the way you describe the loving but tentatively unstable relationship between not only Eden and her father but with Eden's mother as well... just WOW! Wow, wow, wow.

    Amazingly beautiful review, Mrs. Q! <3 Thanks so much for alerting me to the awesomeness of this book -- I'm definitely reading it! :)

  12. This book sounds really heavy but a book that stirs up emotions and makes you think. I guess they can't all be sunshine and roses. Books that focus on real life issues are good to read here and there because they are more real and people can relate to such things happening. The premise sounds good but I'd definitely need to be in a specific mood or mind frame to read this.

  13. This is a well written book about mental illness and how hard it is for family members to understand it, and the pain it can cause. It's 4am, I just finished this book, that oughta tell ya something, yeah, it was good.

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