A Letter from Author Amanda Eyre Ward
I grew up in Rye, New York, a small town outside of New York City. In 1988, I was sixteen years old. I smoked cigarettes in my room, thinking Trident gum would mask the scent. I made a fake ID and laminated it at the library, then used the ID to visit bars in nearby towns: Bumper’s, Streets, Tammany Hall.
On January 1, 1989, my friends and I woke up, heads pounding, in the living room of a stranger’s apartment in Manhattan. We walked to Grand Central and rode the Stamford local back to Rye. By mid-day, we heard that during the midnight hours of New Year’s Eve, there had been a murder in Larchmont, a neighboring town.
An Indian couple, both doctors, had been stabbed to death in their bedroom, throats slashed, their bodies mutilated. It seemed impossible that something like this could happen in the suburbs. Fear travelled silently along the Boston Post Road, past Baskin Robbins and the Smoke Shop, to Dogwood Lane, where I lived with my family in a stunningly beautiful home. To me, the message was clear: danger was everywhere.
The murder was not solved. Four-and-a-half years went by. My parents split up, and I went to college. I thought about the murder from time to time, trying to understand how a stranger had broken the spell of Rye, smashed through the safety we had all thought money could buy.
In 1993, we found out that the murderer was one of us, a teenage boy, a local. The son of a bank president. He had been blind drunk, he told a room full of people at an AA meeting. He was afraid he may have broken a door pane, entered his childhood home, where his family no longer lived, taken a knife from a kitchen drawer, and savagely attacked the strangers sleeping in his parents’ bedroom. He later said he didn’t remember anything about it. He had been in an alcoholic blackout, but now he had nightmares.
At his trial, a psychiatrist said, "Probably the most typical behavior during a blackout is finding the way home....It's almost as if he were going back in time and eliminating the people that he sought to blame for all his problems back when he was seven years old."
He is now in jail.
The story of the New Year’s Eve murder has always stayed with me, and eventually evolved into Close Your Eyes
. I think, in writing the book, I wanted not only to understand what happened to a boy who was one of us, what made him into a murderer, but also to create a world where this wrong was righted, and a broken town was sewn back together. I wanted to imagine a town that was loving and safe, a place that might never have existed in real life.
Advance praise for Close Your Eyes
“With the deft hand of an assured storyteller, Amanda Eyre Ward has concocted a dark yet tender tale about two grown siblings struggling to forge normal lives in the wake of an unimaginably shattering crisis: the conviction of their father for the murder of their mother. It is a tale of twists, turns, secrets, and surprises—all the more engaging for its finely drawn characters. Ward understands just how our flaws betray us and how redemption always comes at a price—yet her deep empathy makes this, ultimately, a story about the power of trust in the people we love.”—Julia Glass, author of The Widower’s Tale
“Close Your Eyes
doesn’t hook you as much as it spins a delicate but powerful web around you. Amanda Eyre Ward goes straight to the heart of her complex, nuanced characters, and with empathy and insight she lays them bare. As a reader, you’re powerless against the elegance of her prose and the emotional honesty of her story. You’ll close the cover on this book, but you won’t forget it.”—Lisa Unger, New York Times
bestselling author of Fragile
“Amanda Eyre Ward has given us a book that is both beautifully wrought and intensely gripping. I was transfixed by this story of a woman haunted by loss but making her brave, difficult way toward truth.”—Marisa de los Santos, New York Times
bestselling author of Belong to Me
“Close Your Eyes
is electrifying, a literary whodunit of the first order—breathless and disturbing and hopeful and true. You won’t be able to look away. People will be talking about this book.”—Justin Cronin, New York Times
bestselling author of The Passage
“I absolutely loved this beautiful, haunting story of a woman who learns to come to terms with a dark, deep family secret. This is the kind of book that hooks you right in, brings tears to your eyes, and ends on a note of shining hope. Lauren Mahdian will feel like your sister, your best friend.”—Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key
and A Secret Kept
“Close Your Eyes
is a wonder. Amanda Eyre Ward has given us finely spun mystery with complex, absorbing characters and lovely prose. A true literary page-turner in the best sense of the word.”—Katie Crouch, author of Girls in Trucks
“Close Your Eyes
is a pitch-perfect exploration of what happens when grief meets guilt and anger in a dark alley—or, in this case, a bright Austin suburb. It’s lonely and compelling and strangely lovely. Amanda Eyre Ward got it just right.”
—Kelly Braffet, author of Last Seen Leaving