Cover image for Close your eyes : a novel
Title:
Close your eyes : a novel
Author:
Ward, Amanda Eyre, 1972-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2011]

©2011
Physical Description:
xiii, 249 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Struggling for closure years after her mother is murdered by her father, Lauren Mahdian analyzes her carefully constructed memories only to realize the role of her own denial, a process that illuminates the impact of split-second choices.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780345494481
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

In Close Your Eyes, the author of the bestselling How to Be Lost spins another mesmerizing tale of buried family secrets.

For most of her life, Lauren Mahdian has been certain of two things: that her mother is dead, and that her father is a murderer.

Before the horrific tragedy, Lauren led a sheltered life in a wealthy corner of America, in a town outside Manhattan on the banks of Long Island Sound, a haven of luxurious homes, manicured lawns, and seemingly perfect families. Here Lauren and her older brother, Alex, thought they were safe.

But one morning, six-year-old Lauren and eight-year-old Alex awoke after a night spent in their tree house to discover their mother's body and their beloved father arrested for the murder.

Years later, Lauren is surrounded by uncertainty. Her one constant is Alex, always her protector, still trying to understand the unraveling of his idyllic childhood. But Lauren feels even more alone when Alex reveals that he's been in contact over the years with their imprisoned father--and that he believes he and his sister have yet to learn the full story of their mother's death.

Then Alex disappears.

As Lauren is forced to peek under the floorboards of her carefully constructed memories, she comes to question the version of her history that she has clung to so fiercely. Lauren's search for the truth about what happened on that fateful night so many years ago is a riveting tale that will keep readers feverishly turning pages.


Author Notes

Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of Sleep Toward Heaven, How to Be Lost, and Forgive Me, as well as a collection of short stories, Love Stories in This Town . She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lauren Mahdian was eight years old when her father was sent to prison for murdering her mother, and while her older brother, Alex, clings to the hope that their father was wrongly convicted, Lauren is equally steadfast in her belief that he is guilty. When Alex leaves for a dangerous posting as a medical volunteer in Iraq, he entrusts Lauren with documents and a potent piece of evidence that could free their father. Loath to give up her long-held convictions, Lauren reluctantly begins an investigation that will ultimately bring her into contact with Sylvia, a woman on the run, both from her present dire circumstances and from the memories of her own fatherless childhood spent in the thrall of a domineering friend. Lacking the nuanced characterizations and subtle story arcs of her previous fiction, Ward's latest novel nonetheless provocatively explores themes of loss and betrayal, remorse and redemption, identity and trust through the stories of two women who have more in common than they can ever know.--Haggas, Caro. Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

A nearly transparent whodunit provides a less than ideal structure for an otherwise incisive story of loss and redemption. Lauren Mahdian has no interest in uncovering the detailsÅof her mother's murder 24 years ago, but her brother, Alex, is obsessed with exonerating theirÅfather, who has been convicted of the murder, and whom Lauren has cut out of her life. But when Alex, a physician with Doctors Without Borders, is feared dead after his hospital is bombed, Lauren feels compelled to carry on his investigation, disinterring memories of a night she'd long ago repressed, suffering panic attacks, and recoiling from herÅsweet if bumbling boyfriend. Elsewhere, Sylvia Hall is pregnant, with few prospects, and planning on getting help from her glamorous childhood friend, Victoria, with whom she shares a dark secret from many yearsÅago that just may hold the key to Lauren's mother's death. Ward (Love Stories in This Town) excels at capturing vivid moments of warmth and kindness evenÅamid a staggering accumulation of personal losses, and while the mystery plot is weak, the rest of the novel is marked by a bruised but generous spirit. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Ward (Forgive Me; How To Be Lost; Sleep Toward Heaven) has written an intriguing literary mystery involving compelling, complex characters. After spending a summer night sleeping in their tree house, six-year-old Lauren Mahdian and her brother, Alex, discover their mother's body. The police arrest their Egyptian father for the murder, and he is sentenced to life in prison. Alex believes their father is innocent; Lauren accepts the verdict and suppresses her memories. Twenty-four years later, Lauren is a real estate agent and her brother a medical student. When Alex joins Doctors Without Borders, Lauren begins to experience panic attacks and must find the courage to face her past and explore her feelings about her father. VERDICT The elegant prose and compelling plot will attract fans of Kate Atkinson as well as Ward's readers. [Seven-city tour; library marketing; see Prepub Alert, 2/1/11.]-Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 "A road trip," said Alex, sounding hopeful for the first time in a long time. "To see Gramma. We can visit her and then go to the beach. We can rent a cottage in Galveston. We can rent a condo." "A condo?" I said, clamping the phone to my ear with my shoulder as I gathered tomatoes in the produce aisle. "I have some news, Lauren. Can you get away this weekend, so we can talk?" "I don't know," I said. "It's a hundred and ten degrees. I have three open houses on Sunday. What do you mean, news?" "Well, at least you have your priorities in order." My brother sounded like he was pouting. I remembered the way he would hide under the kitchen table when our parents fought, refusing to come out. I placed tomatoes on the scale, printing out the price and pressing it to a plastic bag. It was August in Austin, and the cost of tomatoes was rising with the temperatures. "Oh, Alex, I don't know," I said. "Just tell me the news. Is it good news?" "I get it," said Alex. "Mr. Cheapskate won't let you out of his sight?" I shut off my phone and stowed it in my handbag. I picked out a bunch of bananas, just a bit green, then gathered organic baby spinach, fresh thyme, and new potatoes. In the meat department, I asked for lamb and a pound of ground chuck. I passed the lobster tank, grabbed a six-pack of Lone Star and a bottle of cheap white. I tossed two boxes of strawberry granola and a pint of Mexican vanilla ice cream into the cart. Cheddar cheese, skim milk, bagels, baguette, warm tortillas, chocolate-chunk cookies. I was shopping for a family of five, it seemed, though it was just Gerry and me in the one-bedroom rental. I smiled when I thought of Gerry: the slight curl in his auburn hair, his broad shoulders. Gerry had been a wrestler in high school and still had a rangy, stocky build. He was my height, and when we swayed in the kitchen to a slow tune on the radio, we fit together like wooden jigsaw pieces. Like Illinois, nestled next to Missouri in my old puzzle of the United States. By the register, I grabbed a lemon soda and a bouquet of tulips. I paid with my MasterCard, my shock at the total assuaged by the knowledge that I was earning a hell of a lot of ?airline miles. Besides, what was money for if not sumptuous evenings with your boyfriend? By the time Gerry finished work--or "work," as he labored for himself, and what he was doing in the shed in his sweatpants was nothing I recognized as taxing or taxable--I would likely be curled in bed, asleep, but hope sprang eternal, and romance (I believed) was about faith and expensive groceries. Though I had finished squiring around a couple named the Gelthorps by four, dropping them at the Four Seasons for dinner and discussment (Mrs. Gelthorp had assured me she'd call in the morning with an offer on either the Tuscan-style palace in Pemberton Heights or the Provençal villa in Westlake), it was already dark as I wheeled my booty out of Central Market. I angled the cart toward my Dodge Neon. I had hoped for a glamorous convertible, but Gerry had been firm, armed with a stack of old Consumer Reports and Epinions printouts. I unlocked the car, opened the trunk, and screamed when someone tapped me on the shoulder. "I'm sorry," said my brother, panting in the cool evening. "How did you--" "You had that calm I'm buying foodstuffs tone," said Alex. "I rode my bike over." "From the hospital?" Alex nodded. He wiped his forehead. "I came to say I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to insult Gerry." "It's okay," I said. "He is Mr. Cheapskate, after all." "I just think a trip would be fun. The two of us. We need to visit Gramma--and I'll reserve the campsite, or condo, whatever. We haven't camped since . . . since we were kids, you know? I'm feeling a bit mortal." My older brother filled me--always--with bafflement, irritation, and gratitude. He had never recovered, not really, from that morning. I had not made it all the way upstairs, so in some sense, I had been spared. By the time I saw my mother, she had been cleaned and made up, slipped into her favorite dress. He had taken care of me ever since. Instead of parents, I had Alex. "When are you thinking?" I said. "How about tomorrow? We can leave first thing in the morning." "Tomorrow! Can you help me with these bags?" "Time's wasting, sister," said Alex, grabbing bags roughly and tossing them into the trunk. "What does that mean?" I said. "Be careful--that's wine!" Alex placed the paper bag down gently. He turned around and held me by the shoulders. "Have you heard of Doctors Without Borders?" he asked. "Oh, God," I said. "I have a feeling I'm not going to like this news." "I applied last year," said Alex. "And I just got my assignment. I'm going to Iraq, to Baghdad." "You . . ." I said, trailing off. I felt as if I had been sucker-punched. "You can't leave." "I'll go in a few weeks," said Alex gently. "What about me?" I said. "Lauren, this has nothing to do with you." In the Central Market parking lot, beneath the citrus frenzy banner, I began to cry. "I'll be all alone," I said. "Lauren, you're thirty-two," said Alex. "Get ahold of yourself." "Go to hell." I threw the last bag in the car, slammed the trunk, and went around the side to the driver door, wiping my nose with my arm. I felt alarmed, woozy. I opened the door and tried to breathe evenly. Alex ran to me and grabbed my elbow. "I knew you'd freak out," he said. "It's so sudden," I said. Alex hugged me, smelling of sweat and fast food. "Let me just lock up my bike," he said. "I'll come over for dinner." Gerry and I lived in French Place, a historic neighborhood on the wrong side of the interstate. Fault lines made foundations crack and shift; while many houses looked great up top, there were problems under the surface. As opposed to Hyde Park, where professors and rich hippies lived, French Place was for the young and working-class. I loved it. Our landlord had painted the wood siding purple, which would not have been my choice--I preferred sage green--but the trim was a soothing yellow. Some people in our neighborhood went all out, with giant metal roosters or actual chickens in their yards, but we'd splurged on two lemon-colored chairs and a café table from Zinger Hardware and called it a day. When we had our fabulous pumpkin-carving party every year, nobody minded sitting on the steps or on one of the blankets we spread across the lawn. Our street, Maplewood Avenue, was situated behind an elementary school. In the mornings, I could sit on our sagging front porch and watch kids arrive for school, their hair still mashed from bed, small fists rubbing their eyes. We had a house of bike messengers on one side of us and an elderly couple on the other side. Gerry and I often shared a cold six-pack with the neighbors. When I turned onto Maplewood, I could see that the lights in our purple shed, which was now called "The Studio," were still on. "How's that all going?" asked Alex. "The, uh, podcast or whatever." I shrugged. Gerry had lost his job at Dell six months before, and after a week or so of moping around, he had declared his life's dream. I thought my boyfriend's "life's dream" was finally getting me to marry him (he had been asking for years), but no. In his boxer shorts and a dell bowling '08 T-shirt, Gerry had stood in the living room and announced that he was going to start a blog and begin calling himself "Mr. Cheapskate." Wild-eyed, he showed me elaborate plans scrawled in a notebook he'd bought at Walgreens in the middle of the night. "There's this guy who loves wine, okay?" Gerry had said the next morning as I edged my way into the kitchen and began spooning coffee into the French press. "Okay," I said. I had to admit that he looked absurdly attractive with his unshaven face, his eyes alight. "So he makes podcasts, YouTube videos, the whole nine yards. He talks about wine. And now he's rich! And you know how I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian?" "I thought you wanted to perfect neural networks," I said. "Before that, before that," said Gerry. "When I was in high school, I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I won talent shows, the whole nine yards." "You don't really tell jokes or anything," I ventured. "ANYWAY," Gerry snapped, "my point is that I have personality." "I'll give you that," I said. I put the kettle on to boil. "So, and I'm cheap," said Gerry. He was cheap, of this there was no doubt. Gerry refused to order coffee when we went to a coffee shop, insisting he could sip from my cup. He fished newspapers out of the trash and exited airplanes scanning the seat backs carefully, hoping for free magazines. He had a plastic accordion folder for coupons, he knew every two-for-one night in Austin, and he was happy to buy three cans of a Campbell's soup flavor he didn't especially like (broccoli cheese, for example) because the fourth can came for free. Tea bags in his wallet, a favorite free parking place downtown that required me to walk twenty minutes every time we went to hear a band, a house filled with crap from Freecycle. Yes, my beloved was cheap. "I am going to be Mr. Cheapskate," said Gerry. "I've already bought the domain name." "So you're going to write about . . . about saving money?" "Oh, hon," said Gerry, "that's just the beginning." As I drank coffee and nibbled a stale scone, Gerry talked about blog ad revenue, webcasts, social networks, and later, T-shirt sales and personal appearances. He outlined his plans for the dilapidated shed, which was to become the center of the cheapskate empire. He was never going to work for "the man" again. In fact, he was working against the man! Excerpted from Close Your Eyes: A Novel by Amanda Eyre Ward All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.