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Book Review: Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany

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Seattle-area author Amy Hatvany’s latest novel is titled Outside The Lines, which makes perfect sense after reading it. The book is one of those which raises a number of questions, not all of them easily answered. Many of the issues brought up in the book do indeed fall “outside the lines,” because they are so personal. As a reader, some of them mirror situations I have been faced with just this past few months — so it definitely struck a chord.

Eden West is a 30-year old Seattle woman trying to come to grips with some very difficult issues. When she was just ten years old, she found her father lying on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood. He had slashed his wrists, out of desperation and painful mental illness. The suicide attempt led to her parents eventual divorce, and he all but disappeared from Eden’s life.

Over the years, she had heard various stories of him living on the streets, and struggling with his mental illness. When we catch up with Eden, she is running her own catering business, which is doing quite well — and has dreams of opening her own restaurant. After a health scare with her mother, Eden decides she wants to try and find her father, and hopefully begin the process of moving past that horrific day two decades prior.

With this in mind, she begins her search in one of the downtown Seattle homeless shelters. With the help of the understanding and helpful director, Eden’s quest becomes more and more real. It is at this point where the title really comes into play. By delving into the issues of mental illness, and homelessness, we are faced with questions which simply do not have easy answers.

Keeping things interesting on another level, there is a budding romance between Eden and the homeless shelter director, Jack. As a Seattle native, I personally enjoyed Amy’s use of various local landmarks throughout the story. Although they really do not add or detract from the story itself, the use of them adds a special bit of a personal touch.

Outside The Lines is Amy Hatvany’s third novel, and has been chosen as a Target Club Pick — which is a bit of an achievement for a local author. The book is available through a number of sources, including publisher Washington Square Press.

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