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Outside the Lines: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451640544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451640540
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Publisher's synopsis:
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 thoughts about Outside The Lines: Rarely do I comment about titles of books, but I have to commend whoever named this book! Author Amy Hatvany's story of Eden, her father David and her mother is a heart breaking saga of discovery, truth and pain that really does exist "outside the lines."

This is a remarkable story told in an amazing manner. Mental illness, and the repercussions that come to the families affected by the symptoms and realities of a mentally unbalanced family member are hard for to me to read from a personal viewpoint. What moved me the most is the remarkable way Hatvany switched from character to character, with different voices and also different time lines so seamlessly that the reader never losses focus so the reader easily follows the story that Hatvany is telling.

As Eden literally uncovers, layer by layer, the truths and lies and distortions that occurred in her family, she moves forward in her search to get the answers that have been haunting her all her life.
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Format: Paperback
I originally thought that this book was a biography. The characters were so realistic and the plot line was engaging and fascinating. The book jumps back in forth in time, following Eden when she was ten years old and was coping with her father's (David), growing mental illness. Twenty years later it shows Eden running a catering company with dreams of finding the father she hasn't heard from since a suicide attempt when she was almost eleven. As the story jumps back in time it also shows David's point of view as he deteriorates mentally, tries to hold himself together and ultimately fails. I couldn't put this book down. I was very invested in the characters and found myself rooting for Eden as she searched for her dad. Overall, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story is told from two points of view - daughter and her mentally ill father. It's also skips between present and past. I think the author handled all that quite smoothly. I found the present day daughter's story boring and unbelievable. It's basically a romance where everyone is good and funny and warm hearted and interested in dating and men. The characters do a lot of winking and smiling. I didn't find the character's single-minded search for her father particularly believable, nor did I find her very likable. The young daughter is more believable. I found the father the most interesting character and I thought the author did a good job of conveying what it must be like to be mentally off. There's a lot of the same emotion over and over, which also detracted from the story and made it seem more one dimensional that need be. It's a book which interested me enough to pick it up and then to read it all the way through, and while I had issues with it, I did enjoy it.
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Format: Paperback
Eden loved playing with her father and he was a great teacher in an unorthodox way. She knew he had a mental illness but was optimistic that he would get better. Sometimes he had bad days and sometimes he had good days, but she was just grateful that he was there.

David had huge mood swings, from anger to depression to elation, as well as voices talking in his head. He tried to be the husband and father that his family needed, but it was just not him. He wanted to be who he was without conforming to what society dictated how he should act and he should perform. But eventually the demons became too much for him and he tried to kill himself one afternoon. Unfortunately, his young daughter Eden found him, bleeding out.

David never came home. He went to a psychiatric hospital and his wife presented him with divorce papers. He spends the next twenty years in and out of mental institutions and living on the street. He is a gifted artist and he uses his ability to get by.

Eden becomes a chef and is very good at what she does. Her love life though, is lacking. Knowing her father never stayed, never communicated after he left, she is afraid to commit to any relationship. But when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Eden knows she can't leave things where they are. She wants to find her father so that she can forgive him and move on with her life.

With the help of a local homeless shelter and Jack Baker, the shelter's handsome owner, Eden sets out on a journey of the heart. But will she find what she is really looking for or was it in her backyard all along?

Outside the Lines is a beautifully wrought novel that pulls at the heartstrings.
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