Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany

Outside the LinesOutside the Lines by Amy Hatvany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads: 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 take: Eden's father is mentally ill. The book toggles between time lines and voices. This is a very tricky endeavor which the author does very well. Eden and David have distinct voices and I am never confused with POV. Also, time period is clear as Eden sees things as a little girl and changes perspective as she gets older. David grows more mentally unstable as time continues on. Although David is never given a clear diagnosis, it appears he begins with Bi-polar which progresses to "with psychotic features." David struggles with calming the mania and slowing his mind which quiets his creativity. This is too hard for the artist in him and continually ceases his medication.

So Eden is now 31 years old. She is successful chef and her best companion is her dog, Jasper. For some reason, Eden suddenly wants to locate her father. The last she saw of him was during his suicide attempt. When he was hospitalized, her mother served him with divorce papers. She remarried a fireman who was at the scene of the tragedy and they gave Eden a baby brother shortly after that. Eden shares a close relationship with her brother who has some demons of his own with pleasing his father. This is hinted at but never fully explored. Same with the romance the develops that was interesting. I would have liked to know a little more about that one.

Eden begins the arduous task of trying to find David. She starts at a homeless shelter and meets love interest. Loved him. Wonderful love story. Very sweet and healing. Eden has issues of trust and allowing herself to love and be loved by another person. This is all part of her journey to find David.

Another relationship that is explored and well developed is between mother and daughter. Eden has held her mother somewhat responsible for her father's mental demise. If she'd only tried harder to help him, he wouldn't be missing or living on the streets. Slowly, Eden discovers the difficult decisions her mother had to make and why she made them.

The story is very well developed except for the two side notes previously mentioned but they are pertinent to the story of Eden and David. The main characters are VERY well developed. There is emotional and psychological exploration and metamorphoses as the years go by. It is a well written exploration of mental illness and respecting yourself and the mentally ill person and their choices. I really enjoyed this one.

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