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Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Outside the Lines" by Amy Hatvany~Loving When It's Hard To Do

Published by:  Washington Square Press
Pages:  384
Genre:  General Fiction

Cover Rating :
Simple font and clear intro to title and author. I'm not sure it tells me much in terms of the picture, though. Book must have something to do with a father and little daughter. I like the soft colors of the cover.  From the canvases stacked in the background, and facing the wall, I suspect the book has something to do with the dad being an artist. Peaks interest enough to read the back for a summary.  Rated: B

Summary :
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.

Author Intro.:  Amy was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.

The Bookish Dame Reviews:

Sometimes it's good to color outside the lines.  It leaves the confines of the ordinary and helps us break with the traditional ways of thinking and working through problems, and it causes us to "think outside the box," as they say...which helps us access our greatest creative, artistic potential.  In some cases, however, being 'outside the lines' can mean walking just enough out of step of the norm that it makes one an "outsider," and a stranger to society.  Love and lovers become distant, and society breaks off from the outsider leaving him isolated; often abandoned.  Amy Hatvany addresses some of this outsider-ness and its effects on those who love the isolated ones in "Outside the Lines."  It's a book I was so happy not to have missed reading.  She is an author of astute comprehension of this relationship and the voids in those lives it can affect. She is an author capable of translating incredible feeling for us.

Ms Hatvany writes with such compassion and understanding of the heartbreak a child faces when she loses the father she loves. And, the earth-shattering fear she must have felt at finding her beloved father in a pool of blood, that preceded her losing him in other ways. It is the brutal thrust of that unconditional love of a child that causes Eden to cling to the hope of finding her father somewhat restored to health, and of regaining a loving relationship with him.

Mental illness is a life-threatening disease.  It effects not only the sad and ravaged spirit of the ill person, but all of those who are closest to him or her.  In child to parent relationships, it can have devastating and long-lasting effects that can prove crippling to the wholesome development of a child into adulthood.  In Hatvany's book, she strives to present a story in which this struggle for healing of the spirit comes to complete the emotional health of Eden, herself.  It's a journey that proves one often needs to be steely to cross into the unknown of human relationships...particularly into that area of those closest to us, and of those that are tenuous. And, it's a journey for Eden that starts out toward one goal, and finishes completing a totally different one.

I'm the child of a mentally ill parent; a father whom I adored as a little girl, and who escaped our reality into the closed cave of mental illness when I was four years old.  He was never the same, though I tried all my life to "find him" and regain that loving relationship we had.  I know some of the feelings and intentions of Amy Hatvany's story first hand.

Told in the most beautiful of prose, "Outside the Lines" is the kind of book that explores those things difficult to look at. Through her protagonist, Eden, she helps us find a way through the emotions and remembrances that may haunt us. Through Eden's journey we find mirrored some untold truths and harsh realities, and Amy brings her around to a fresher and renewed purpose and understanding of her father. As Eden finds a new center for her life, we come to see how she got there, and how she found acceptance that led to her own healing. What more can a novel hope to achieve? 

This is a book I can recommend with whole-heart to everyone.  I loved the book and its characters. It was refreshing that Amy Hatvany attempted to reach "outside the lines" for herself and for her readers.

5 stars

An Interview with Amy:

Hello, Amy, and welcome to A Bookish Libraria!
I’m so delighted you’ve agreed to allow us to get to know you and your book better through this quick interview. I have several questions!

First of all, please tell us a special something about your private life. When you aren’t writing, what are you doing?
When I’m not writing, you can usually find me in the kitchen, whipping up something wonderful to feed my family or friends. Cooking is definitely another passion of mine. I think the biggest thing that makes me "tick" is personal growth – learning new things about myself and the world around me. The minute I stop doing that, I get bored!

You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?With OUTSIDE THE LINES, I had a dream that sparked the idea of writing about a woman searching for her homeless father. I’m also very interested in the concept that a little madness often accompanies the creative life, so I was moved to explore that in the story.
Which author(s) most influenced your love of books from childhood? That’s a tough question! I was a huge reader as a child, up to ten books a week from the library, so picking out my favorites is a daunting task. Judy Blume, of course, influenced me, and probably the most haunting book I’ve ever read was Daphne Du Maurier’s REBECCA.
Please share with us the underlying message of your book. What would you like your readers to take away after having read the book?I think the most important message has to do with accepting people for who they are and the choices they make, even if they live differently than we do. I’d like readers to walk away with a different view of the homeless community; to perhaps re-evaluate any preconceptions they might have.

Were you able to keep your original title? What was it, if not?My original title was What You Wish For, but I am actually much happier with OUTSIDE THE LINES. It suits the overall story so well.

 Read any good books in the past 6 months?You know, I’ve been so swamped writing and working on revisions, I haven’t had a lot of time to read and I miss it desperately!

 In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?For me, personally, I have to become emotionally invested in the characters’ experiences. I need to care about and understand what happens to them, even if I might not always agree with their actions.

Please share with your readers where you like to write. Do you have a particular space or desk? I have a desk in an otherwise useless space in our home – though it’s kind of a thorough-fair for getting from the living room to the kitchen! The only thing I see when I’m sitting at my desk is my lap top and the stacks of manuscripts and notes all around me. My perfect environment for writing would actually be a room with no windows so I won’t get distracted.
                Is there a song or music in general that might best   represent book as a theme song? Oh my, you are asking the wrong person about that! I don’t think musically at all – only in words! If you could write your book again, what would you change?    Nothing. I’m very proud of it exactly as it is!

Tell us a secret about your book we wouldn’t otherwise know, please!
Hmm. Let’s see. The only thing I can think of is that I had never written from two separate viewpoints before this book, nor had I written from a male character’s point of view. Overall, I think my first attempt at these turned out well.

Great interview, Amy!  Thank you for sharing with us.




Wow, this sounds like quite a book. Mental Illness is something that needs to be deal with, not kept in the dark shadows of life. I am sorry to hear about your dad. I can only imagine how hard that was growing up.


Wow, it sounds like this hit close to home for you. What a powerful book. Thanks for your review.

Sophia Rose

Wow! This one sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing and posting.

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