Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: “Outside the Lines” by Amy Hatvany

Outsdie the linesThere is something about Amy Hatvany’s books that I don’t like—the fact that I am a walking zombie during the time I’m reading them as I can not put them down at night!

The first of Amy Hatvany’s books that I read was The Best Kept Secret (my review here) and I became an instant fan.  I pre-purchased Outside the Lines as soon as I could, but was only able to start it recently.

Eden last saw her father, David, when she was 10 years old and he was being taken away by the medics after a suicide attempt.  In the 20 years since then, she has had no contact with him, but his absence weighs on her.  She decides to try to find him, even though she knows this will be an uphill battle since she has reason to believe that David is living as a homeless person.

The story is told through 3 different voices—Eden as an adult trying to find her father, Eden as a young girl living with her mentally ill father, and David himself.  That may sound disjointed, but the pieces actually fit together perfectly.  Every character, from Eden and David to the homeless people Eden meets when she volunteers at Hope House, a Seattle shelter, are skillfully and realistically written.

I am certainly not an expert on mental illness, but I suspect that Hatvany captures the pain of David’s struggles (bipolar? schizophrenia?) accurately.  Such characters can be tricky to write as the author has to walk a tight rope between trying to capture the illness, but also being believable and not over the top.
Eden is one of the better characters I’ve encountered in my recent reads.  Never once did I doubt her emotions or think that she was “too good” or “too perfect” for her situation.

Finally, as with any book, it all depends on the ending and Outside the Lines does not disappoint. I won’t give it away, but I will say that a story such of this runs a danger of ending on either an unbelievable point or a saccharine note—Outside the Lines bucks that and ends of a thoroughly satisfying note.

Affiliate link: Purchase this book at Amazon.

I was not solicited for this review, nor did I receive any compensation.

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