At the age of 10, Eden found her father bleeding out on the bathroom floor. 20 years later, after her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Eden decides life is short and seeks out the man she hasn’t seen since that fateful day. The successful head chef of a catering company, Eden has moved past her difficult childhood, but hasn’t been able to forget her father, painful as their relationship was.
David has struggled his entire adult life with mental illness, off and on the drugs that make him more stable yet muted in an attempt to placate his wife and daughter. A talented painter, his creativity feels stifled, and the pressure to sell paintings is too much for him.
Outside the Lines alternates between Eden as a child, Eden as an adult, and David as both a young husband and father and an older man living on the streets. Father and daughter exhibit the pain of mental illness, both for the person suffering and their family who love them. David wants to behave the way his wife and daughter want him to, but he just can’t. Eden wants to help her father, but the kind of help she wants to give isn’t what he needs.
Mental illness, especially the type that can’t be pinpointed by a single diagnosis, is so difficult for all involved, and Amy Hatvany paints a realistic portrait of life for all parties. Eden’s yearning for a normal father is evident, and her relationships with men as an adult are clearly defined by her memories of her father.
Outside the Lines is about many things – love, acceptance, and most of all, hope. It’s a powerful and touching story that I enjoyed.
Notes on the audiobook: Outside the Lines is narrated by Candace Thaxton and Corey Brill. Both narrators do a wonderful job with their characters, conveying emotion; I could feel their pain and elation. While this book was released in print and e-book in 2012, the audio version was made available this past December.