Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Outside the Lines"

Amy Hatvany's books include Best Kept Secret.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel Outside the Lines, and reported the following:
Outside the Lines tracks a woman’s search for her homeless and mentally ill father, whom she’s been estranged from for twenty years. At its core, the story is meant to illustrate the sometimes complicated web of family relationships - how far one might go in the name of love. I opted to write from two vantage points: David West, an artist struggling with a deteriorating mind, and Eden West, the daughter he adores, but ends up deserting when she is ten years old.

Page 69 falls in the middle of one of Eden’s chapters. She is interacting with her half-brother, Bryce, her mother and her step-father, and the reader is introduced to this blended family’s dynamics. We see the true affection Eden and Bryce have for each other and the more complex relationship both Eden and Bryce have with his father. Though they love her, none of her family members understand or support Eden’s search for David, so there is the underlying tension of her decision to continue looking for him despite their not-always-so silent disapproval. But this page captures them at a lighter moment…

From Page 69:
“Ah, I love you, Ed. You never piss me off.” (Bryce speaking).

“That’s a lie. And don’t call me Ed.” Bryce couldn’t figure out how to say “Eden” when he was learning to talk so I became “Ed” by default. John made it worse by adding a “Mr.” before the nickname. I was thirteen and in the midst of a great deal of adolescent angst. Bryce was two and made a habit of toddling around, pointing at me and saying “Mr. Ed! Mr. Ed!” to anyone who’d listen. I was already struggling with gaining a sibling after ten years of only-child-hood; this did not further endear him to me.

“Okay, Ed,” Bryce teased.

I punched him again and the pain in my knuckles reminded me why I shouldn’t have. “Ow!”

He cracked up just as John walked over and grabbed Bryce in a bear hug, lifting him off the ground. “My son, the body builder!”

“Pops, knock it off!” Bryce struggled and managed to drop back down to the floor.

Our mother hugged Bryce. “You looked fantastic up there, sweetie. Very good job.”

Bryce scowled. I could tell he was not happy John had picked him up, and I didn’t blame him. For a man in his early fifties, John could be as exuberant as a Great Dane puppy.

“What’s with the tan-in-a-can?” I asked Bryce, trying to lighten his mood. “Did you lose a bet?”

“Ha ha,” Bryce said. “Very funny. I haven’t gotten the right formula yet. You have to do it in layers and all the other guys who compete say it’s a bitch to get it perfect. You want to help me put it on next time?”


“Yeah, you.”

“Tempting…” I pretended to ponder this, tapping my finger against the side of my mouth. “But no. Spray-tanning my naked brother just isn’t on my Bucket List.”
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Hatvany's website.

--Marshal Zeringue