REVIEW: Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany (@AmyHatvany)

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. The result is an emotionally rich and honest novel about making peace with the past–and embracing the future.

I have to start off this review by stating that this is a first for me.  “Women’s Fiction” is not my usual genre of choice.  Not because I think it’s bad, by any means.  I have just never read much in this category.  That being said, Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany was a great way to introduce me to a new area of reading.  On with the review!

Eden is a girl had to grow up way too fast and as a result of her “daddy issues”, she has the classic manifestation of not being able to make a relationship work.  However, this is not the main focus of Outside The Lines.  The daddy issues themselves are.  Outside The Lines shows you the hardships, difficulties and stress that are placed on the family surrounding a loved one with mental illness.  I happen to have a small amount of experience in this area and Amy Hatvany does an amazing job at showing the reader what all parties involved go through. 
The book switches back and forth between not only time, but also character point of view [POV’s].  The POV’s that we bounce back and forth between are Eden as a child, David {when Eden was a child) and Eden as an adult.  When I first saw this change in not only POV but time, I seriously thought that this was going to be an issue that I saw in previous books by other authors.  I assumed that it was going to cause confusion in the story line and be difficult for some readers to grasp.  This is so not the case.
Amy Hatvany wrote out these time/POV changes in a way that they are helpful and, in my opinion, necessary to the story line.  Eden will be n the present and have a reaction to a situation and then the story line will bounce back to her as a child.  One we are in the child POV, we are in child-Eden’s thoughts seeing a situation with her father through her eyes.  We are shown how she felt in that time and place.  Then it will switch to David’s POV and we see how he felt in that situation and the thoughts that were going through his head explaining WHY he was doing the things he was doing.  It sounds like a lot of back-and-forth but it really isn’t.  As I said, it’s definitely necessary to the storyline. 
OutsideThe Lines also gives you a glimpse into the mind of someone who is….well, losing theirs.  David has an illness and this book gives you a little bit of understanding for him.  Society tries to force a “cure” on people who are mentally ill without much regard to the fact that the drugs may be doing them mental harm.  Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease and we see that in this book. 
As is mentioned in the synopsis, Eden is the one that discovered David following his suicide attempt.  After reading this book, I strongly encourage anyone who has ever had a loved one attempt suicide to give this a read.  The suicide is attempt is seen from both Eden’s POV and David’s POV.  I think that David’s POV is the important one here.  Not that Eden’s feelings don’t count but unless you’ve been there, you can never fully understand the complete and total loss of hope and the utter despair that goes into someone attempting to end their life.  Loss of hope is an incredibly strong thing and this chapter lets you see that.  Warning:  have tissues handy.  It’s a doozey. 
On a lighter note – I LOVE GEORGIA.  Georgia is Eden’s best friend and one of my favorite characters in this book.  She’s a tough cookie that gives it to Eden straight.  It may not always be what Eden wants to hear but it is certainly what she needs to hear.  THAT is the quality that makes a genuinely good friend.
As for the rest of the cast, Amy Hatvany has written a well rounded group of characters.  Some have their not so shining moments but that is what makes them human.  There’s lots of good dialog and I never once got bored.
Outside the Lines did not at all have the ending that I expected but I don’t think it would have had the same message if it did.  My only issue with this book was the ending.  I reached the end of the book and expected it to keep going.  I was a little sad to see it end. 
Overall, I give Outside The Lines 5 stars for Women’s Fiction.  My first ever!  Congrats to Amy Hatvany on a fantastic book!  You have made yourself a new fan!  Keep up the great work!
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  1. Hmm, very nice review. I’ll recommend this book to my friend.

  2. boomergrl49 says:

    I work in downtown Seattle, with people who struggle from mental illness. I will give this a try! Good review!

  3. boomergrl49 says:

    struggle with, I meant to write!

    1. Wow! You would probably really enjoy this book. It was a great story. And takes places in Seattle and Portland. 🙂

  4. boomergrl49 says:

    I’ve got it on my list!

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