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Outside the Lines

Outside the Lines

4.2 38
by Amy Hatvany

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A gripping novel about a woman who sets out to find the father who left her years ago, and ends up discovering herself.

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 gripping novel about a woman who sets out to find the father who left her years ago, and ends up discovering herself.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Hatvany’s latest (after Best Kept Secret), vivid and flawed characters struggle with the complexities of family, friends, and lovers. Seattle caterer and budding restaurateur Eden West is on a mission to find her father and maybe fix her love life in the bargain. After a suicide attempt 20 years ago, Eden’s father, a manic-depressive, alcoholic painter, disappeared. Now, incapable of a successful relationship, Eden is determined to find out what has become of him. For help, she visits a homeless shelter, Hope House, and tumbles into a relationship with its director, who urges her to volunteer her culinary services. Hatvany unfolds her tale over two time periods and from the perspectives of both Eden and her father, which eventually helps to enrich and complicate the adult Eden. Family secrets and Eden’s inability to accept her father will keep readers guessing, and the evolution of Eden’s relationships with her mother, stepfather, and new boyfriend lends credence to the ending. A palpable love story, emotional search for and acceptance of a lost parent, and a bittersweet ending make for an enveloping, heartfelt read. Agent: Victoria Sanders. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“A palpable love story, emotional search for and acceptance of a lost parent, and a bittersweet ending make for an enveloping, heartfelt read.”—Publishers Weekly

“There are no storybook perfect endings here, but this compelling novel raises the possibility of a hopeful way forward.” —The Seattle Times

“Will delight readers…vivid and written with a depth of feeling.” —Library Journal

"Like a gorgeous dark jewel, Hatvany’s exquisitely rendered novel explores the tragedy of a mind gone awry, a tangled bond of father and daughter, and the way hope and love sustain us. This novel does what the best fiction does: it makes us see and experience the world differently." Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

"This extraordinary novel about a woman's search for her lost father—and herself—touched me deeply. With her trademark insight and compassion for her characters, Amy Hatvany has written a beautiful and moving book. Were there Oscars for novels, Outside the Lines would sweep the categories."

Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess' Cooking School

"Outside the Lines offers a fascinating look at the interior of a mental illness—the exuberance and self-loathing, creativity and destruction that then reverberate against the lives of family and loved-ones. Hatvany’s storyline is compelling, weaving back and forth between father and daughter, patiently explaining as it asks all the important questions."

—Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me

"Outside the Lines is a tender and lovely novel that explores the boundaries of love and how we break those boundaries in its name. It's sad and funny, heartbreaking and heartwarming. You'll want to read this book slowly. When you're finished, you'll want to read it again."

Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters

“I’m telling everyone about Best Kept Secret. It’s the realistic and ultimately hopeful story of Cadence, whose glass of wine at the end of the day becomes two…then…three…then a bottle. I love that Cadence feels so familiar, she could be my neighbor, my friend, or even my sister.” —Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“I was transfixed by Cadence and her heart-wrenching dilemma. The writing is visceral, the problems are real, and there are no clear solutions. You won’t want to put it down.” —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed

“Touching, hopeful, and so real…Amy Hatvany writes with depth and compassion about a secret many have kept as she offers the miracle chance of starting over. I loved these characters and this novel.” —Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Boat

“Rarely do I find a book that stays with me long after I’ve finished it, but this is definitely one. The writing is warm, witty, thoughtful and heartbreaking, and that ending—I’m still thinking about it.” —Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay

“One of the most compelling books I’ve read in years. This heartfelt, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel will start an important dialogue about the secrets we keep…and it could even save lives.” —Sarah Pekkanen, author of Skipping a Beat

Kirkus Reviews
What if the best thing for an artist is to lose his creativity? What if the best thing for a father is to leave his family? What if the best thing for a little girl is to lose her father? Who decides what's best? Hatvany (Best Kept Secret, 2011, etc.) explores the collisions between mental illness and societal expectations, artistic creativity and medical treatment, love and responsibility. David loves paints passionately, loves his wife Lydia and adores his daughter Eden. The demons of mental illness screech in his head, yet the price of silencing them is steep. Although self-medicating with alcohol dampens the voices, it does little for his impulsive behavior. Taking his prescribed lithium helps him stay inside the lines, behaving properly and making Lydia believe he is trying to get better. But the lithium destroys his creativity and deadens his emotions. Young Eden stands by her father's side through years of depression, hospitalizations, jail, lies and self-recriminations. Given a final chance by Lydia to take his medication and get well, David fails again. But this time he is driven so deeply into self-loathing that he attempts suicide. Realizing how dangerous David has become to Eden's well-being, Lydia finally drives him away from his family. Haunted by his absence, Eden spends her life searching for him, wondering what might have been. As she searches homeless shelters and soup kitchens, she meets Jack Baker. An advocate for the people who live outside the lines, Jack offers Eden the chance to understand her father's world. He also offers her the chance to find real love, anchoring her when she, at last, finds David. But after 20 years, how will father and daughter reconnect? Although plunged into devastating losses as well as great joy, Hatvany's characters suffer from a lack of emotional range and a predictable plot.

Product Details

Washington Square Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

January 1989

“Eden West, come on down!” my father shouted from the base of the stairs. We were playing The Price Is Right and he was Bob Barker. It was a cold and clear Sunday morning and my mom was in the kitchen making breakfast. The smoky scent of bacon wafted through the hallway where we played. The sun shot a kaleidoscope of color through the beveled stained glass of our front door onto the floor. I sometimes liked to lie in that spot, pretending the patterned hues decorating my skin were a tattoo. At ten years old I fancied myself a rebel.

I raced down the stairs in my nightgown and bare feet, skipping over the last three steps to land with a decided thump next to my father. The wide wooden planks beneath me creaked in protest and the crystal chandelier above the dining room table tinkled.

“Eden!” my mother yelled from the kitchen. “This house is not your personal jungle gym. Settle down!”

“Sorry, Mother!” my dad yelled back in a girlish, mocking voice. “Won’t happen again!”

I giggled and my father winked at me. My father’s winks were our silent language. It’s you and me, kid, they said. We’re the only ones who get it.

“Now, tell me, Miss West, just how excited are you to be here?” He held a wooden spoon like a microphone and moved it toward my chin.

“Very excited, Bob.” I lowered my voice to what I thought was a very grown-up, womanly tone. In that moment, the love I felt for my father was a vibrant, sparkling heat. It lifted me out of my fears, carried me above any of the pain I might have had. It made me feel like I could do anything, be anyone. It felt like magic.

“Which door would you like to choose?” He gestured toward the front door.

“Hmm,” I said, tapping my index finger against the corner of my mouth. “I think I’ll go with door number one, Bob.”

“Excellent choice, Miss West. Excellent choice.” He made a two-foot jump over to the door and the chandelier tinkled again.

“Eden!” my mother shouted. “Knock! It! Off!”

“Sorry, Mother!” I yelled, and winked at my dad, who laughed.

“That’s my girl,” he said. He placed his hand on the doorknob and wiggled his thick black eyebrows suggestively. “What could it be? What . . . could . . . it . . . be?” He flung the door wide open.

“A brand-new car!” I screamed. Forgetting my mother entirely, I jumped up and down, screaming and clapping my hands, pretending to be excited about an invisible vehicle. My father threw down the spoon and grabbed me. He hugged me tight, lifting me up and twirling me around the room. My legs spun out behind me. He held me so tightly I couldn’t breathe.

“Dad, you’re squishing me!” I gasped. I felt my ribs clicking against one another beneath the pressure of his embrace.

“David, please!” my mother said as she rushed into the hallway to see what the excitement was all about. She wore a nightgown the same sky blue as her eyes and her thick blond hair was braided down the center of her back. “Put her down! You’re going to break something!”

“Never!” said my dad. “She just won a brand-new car, Lydia! We have to celebrate!”

“It’s January,” said my mother. She inched around us to shut the front door, her braid swinging like a rope. “Our heating bill is already atrocious.”

“Then we’ll live in her car!” my dad proclaimed. “Right, Eden?”

“Right!” I gasped again, and he finally set me down. My mother gave me one of her pinched, disapproving looks and I dropped my gaze to the floor, gingerly rubbing my sides and breathing hard. My father sidled up to my mother and grabbed her, spinning her around to kiss her soundly on the lips.

“You know you love me, Lydia West,” he said with his face less than an inch from hers.

I held my breath, waiting to see how my mother would respond. It was up to her, I thought. She held the power over which direction he’d go, whether or not he’d spin out of control. She could talk him down, touch his face and soothe and distract him like I’d seen her do countless times before. “Let’s go to a museum,” she would say. “Let’s go find a park we’ve never been to before and you can sketch the trees for me.” She could help channel the energy I saw whirling behind my father’s eyes. She could push it onto a path where no one would get hurt.

Instead, she stared at him and put her hands on his chest, pushing him away. He stumbled backward, catching himself from falling by throwing his hand against the wall behind him.

“Have you been taking your medication?” she asked. Her voice was flat.

My insides went cold. I hated it when she asked him that question. Especially when I knew the answer was no. I’d watched him flush the entire contents of his prescription down the toilet a week ago.

“Our secret, right, Bug?” he whispered, and I’d nodded. My father’s secrets were a dark and heavy burden in my chest. Sometimes I worried I carried so many of them they might rise up and blossom as a bruise beneath my skin. Then there would be no doubt—I’d be exposed for the liar I was.

“Yes, I’ve been taking my medication, Dr. Lydia,” said my father. His smile melted into a sneer. “Would you like me to take a fucking blood test? Or would you just like to have me locked up again?”

No, I silently pled. No. Please don’t send him away. A jittery panic rose within me. The last time he’d been at the hospital for a month. Our house was quiet as death.

“Don’t swear in front of your daughter,” my mother said quietly. “Breakfast is ready.”

“I’m not hungry,” my father said as he grabbed his coat from the rack by the door. “I need to go. I have places to be, people to see. People who appreciate me.”

“Daddy—” I started to say. But it was too late. He was already gone.

© 2012 Amy Hatvany

Meet the Author

Amy Hatvany is the author of three other novels, including Best Kept Secret. She lives in Seattle with her family.

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Outside the Lines: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
IHeart2Read More than 1 year ago
Outside the Lines is a book that grabs the reader from page one. Early on I was invested in Eden and her search for her father. I wanted Eden to reconnect with David in order for her to heal from the void his absence had created. With each new clue to his whereabouts, I found myself filled with emotion: excited that she may see him again, but yet fearful that David's story may not have a happy ending. Hatvany tells the story of David and Eden in both their voices, which was the strength of the novel for me. Chapters alternate from the past to the present as David and Eden take turns narrating. Hatvany's transitions are so smooth, that I quickly adjusted and did not have to rely on the chapter headings to inform me if it was David or Eden, past or present. Reading David's struggles with staying on his medication and trying to live a "normal" life in his voice was refreshing. I don't think I would have been as captivated with him had I read about him from Eden's (or her mother's) perspective. Hatvany's talent lies within creating characters the reader cares about and keeps in her thoughts long after the book is put down. Eden is a complicated character. She's successful in her career, dreams about owning a restaurant, and has family and friends who care about her. But yet it's hard for her to truly love another man because of the unresolved issues she has with her father. She's dedicated to finding David, not only to see him again, but she also realizes it's necessary for her self-growth and to face the future that awaits her. Outside the Lines is a gripping novel about how mental illness not only impacts the individual with the diagnosis, but also the family. If you're looking for a story rich with family dynamics and likeable, flawed characters, you will not want to miss Outside the Lines. Highly recommended.
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
Mental illness is the plague of the modern world. We treat the symptoms, but can do nothing for the problem itself. Drugs are just a temporary fix for so many and at the same time make the individual feel like someone else. This book explores the world of mental illness and the devastation it has wreaked on the main characters life. She is not the ill individual but her father. She loves him and thinks that if he just loved her enough he could change. The relationships and the love between the characters in this book are endearing and heartbreaking at the same time. I’ve worked with mental illness in my career and it breaks my heart more times then it doesn’t. The feelings of Eden are easily felt by the reader and I have to admit I cried at the end. A beautiful story unfolds as you turn the pages, one which will pull at your heartstrings and make you want to hug those you love...especially you dad. This book flows well, is easy to follow and difficult to put down. If you enjoy stories about real life that could really happen you will enjoy this book. I loved the way the author brought the father’s point of view across you don’t usually get that side of the story. Her father showed that sometimes love is not enough to change who we truly are, yet it is enough to keep us connected even if only in thought. 4 1/2 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read, couldn't put it down. Would recommend.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
A book where mental illness takes center stage, but the reader gets a full picture with this read - from both the person fighting the illness to the family that is affected by the highs and the lows of the disease. The format of this book was a perfect way to share the story both what is currently happening to the full story of the past. From the beginning we meet Eden who has been severely damaged by her father's battle with a mental illness. She has struggled with her romantic relationships and can not find fulfillment at her job. Throughout the book you read the past from both her perspective and her fathers and learn why she has come to be the adult she is now. I absolutely loved reading the perspective of her father and having moments in his head as he tried to conform to society's standards and be a father and a husband. A story that hits you deep in your heart and makes you want to rescue her from her expectations of a father that can't live up to them. I fell hard into this book and was swallowed hole by the story. I couldn't put down if I tried!
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
This is my third book by Amy Hatvany, and each one of them is sooooo deserving of 5 stars+. I am delighted I found this author through my reading of Sarah Pekkanen’s books (another one of my favorites)! I could not put “Outside the Lines” down- Amy did an outstanding job of capturing the experience of mental illness, with the alternating perspectives of David (father) and Eden (daughter), as well as moving back and forth in time. It gave much insight and depth to each of the characters, feelings, and emotions. Amy’s subject matter is so real with raw emotion--the family dynamics, making each of her books so unique. I could really sympathize with all the characters, and put in this situation, not sure how I would have reacted. Lydia did all she could do in protecting her daughter and at some point in time you become an enabler. In the end David did not enjoy being trapped and being on the streets, gave him the freedom. The character of Jack was amazing and the dynamics of his relationship with Eden, as well as her relationship with step brother and stepfather. In a way, I feel Jack could sympathize with David, as he too chose a path of freedom away from this own controlling father. I do believe highly talented creative artistic minds work differently, and they demand a lot of solitude in order to create their masterpieces; being drugged and hospitalized would take away that inspiration. The ending was brilliant and loved everything about this novel – it will bring tears. The love the author put into this book, the research, and her background working in shelters,--definitely reflected throughout. (I can just picture the Garden of Eden) and have a few of the cast members in mind for a possible movie!
shannschoice More than 1 year ago
"It’s incredibly hard to write about this book without giving too much away, so I’ll try my best! This is a tough and extremely emotional subject, and the author has written it beautifully. My heart broke for each and every one of the characters as their stories tragically unfolded. Eden is a strong and courageous character who has been through so much in such a short amount of time. Her father attempted suicide, which led to her parent’s divorce and her father disappearing. Her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Feeling as though she must, Eden decides to track down her father, only to find out painful secrets that have been hidden from her for so many years. The pain and betrayal she feels throughout the book is agonizing, but the growth that she endures is awe-inspiring. I walked away from this book feeling as though I found insight into my own life and the relationships that I hold dear, appreciating each and every one a little more than I did before. Inspiring and emotional, this book will touch you deeply. Just make sure you have some Kleenex close by. Reviewed by Marie for Cocktails and Books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book, first time i read a book from this author and already ordered her other book. You won't be disappointed if u purchase this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! Could not put it down, has a great storyline. Loved how the book told both sides to the story from David's point or view and Eden's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is sure to be one of my all-time favorites. This writer pulls you in right away and suddenly you are hooked. The complicated relationship plots are icing on the cake. Cannot wait to read more of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First I want to say that I loved the author's style of writing. She did a great job with two different views of the same thing and covering a vast age difference. Prior to reading the book, I have always felt that the majority of those living on the street made the choice to do this regardless of their circumstances. I feel this author's message reiterated my same feelings. I understand that making a drastic change to their way of life would be very difficult, but I feel that if they really wanted to, they could. I enjoyed the ending of the book and felt it was the right ending for this story.
Monica_NMT More than 1 year ago
Great story...kept my interest.
Purple_Writer More than 1 year ago
Havatny isn't poetic, does not use beautiful language to describe things, and certainly struggles with realistic dialogue. But what she does do is create very honest characters who are interesting, creative, and seemingly real as they each battle their own personal demons. Her plot is a good one- how a family is affected by one member's mental illness. She includes details that are very real and sort of sucks you in and makes you want to read more. You forget how bad her conversations between characters are, or how she mentions things that are so unimportant to the central text- just so you could learn more about the mentally ill father. I did read this rather quickly and thought it was overall a fair book. I would recommend it to anyone who can relate to the story line. I'm not sure I'll read any more of her books.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Pretends to shoot you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Learning to let someone be who they, despite what we think is best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not my favorite
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book since it was written from two perspectives (Eden and her father). Although it deals with the difficulty of trying to have a "normal" relationship with someone with a mental illness, it's also much more than that. I feel that any story that can teach you about compassion is a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
happyasalark More than 1 year ago
Last night, our monthly book club had an interesting discussion using the questions supplied at the back of the book. The concept of both main characters telling their side of events was well received. Recommend this book for clubs and for anyone with mental illness in their family/friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great book. This was my first time reading a book from this author. Can't wait to start the next one. Hope she writes many more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the description of the story I thought I would love this book. I liked it but did not fall in love. The love story in the book got to feeling cheesy and over the top.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this for bookclub and enjoyed it a lot. It gives a person a different perspective on people with mental health problems. it is a fast read as you want to know does she ever find her Dad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting depiction of the mind of someone living with bi polar=