Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Amy Hatvany

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4054-0
Publisher: Washington Square/Pocket

What if the best thing for an artist is to lose his creativity? What if the best thing for a father is to leave his family? What if the best thing for a little girl is to lose her father? Who decides what’s best?

Hatvany (Best Kept Secret, 2011, etc.) explores the collisions between mental illness and societal expectations, artistic creativity and medical treatment, love and responsibility. David loves paints passionately, loves his wife Lydia and adores his daughter Eden. The demons of mental illness screech in his head, yet the price of silencing them is steep. Although self-medicating with alcohol dampens the voices, it does little for his impulsive behavior. Taking his prescribed lithium helps him stay inside the lines, behaving properly and making Lydia believe he is trying to get better. But the lithium destroys his creativity and deadens his emotions. Young Eden stands by her father’s side through years of depression, hospitalizations, jail, lies and self-recriminations. Given a final chance by Lydia to take his medication and get well, David fails again. But this time he is driven so deeply into self-loathing that he attempts suicide. Realizing how dangerous David has become to Eden’s well-being, Lydia finally drives him away from his family. Haunted by his absence, Eden spends her life searching for him, wondering what might have been. As she searches homeless shelters and soup kitchens, she meets Jack Baker. An advocate for the people who live outside the lines, Jack offers Eden the chance to understand her father’s world. He also offers her the chance to find real love, anchoring her when she, at last, finds David. But after 20 years, how will father and daughter reconnect?

Although plunged into devastating losses as well as great joy, Hatvany’s characters suffer from a lack of emotional range and a predictable plot.