Ghosts haunt the pages of Lisa Grunwald's novel, New Year's Eve
. The book opens on New Year's Eve 1985. Erica and her twin sister, Heather, are celebrating the occasion as they do every year, with their husbands and widowed father. Both women are pregnant, due within weeks of each other. Over the years, the sisters have grown apart, and with the death of their mother, their already distant father has become even more difficult to reach. When the babies are born a few months later, it seems that these new "twins" will become the bond reuniting this family. Then, a few years later, Heather's son, David, is killed in an accident and Erica's daughter begins receiving "visits" from him. Soon, the visits drive this family even farther apart than before as Heather desperately clings to the tenuous connection with her dead son while Erica fights to keep her daughter rooted among the living.
Among the chapters detailing the sisters' present lives are Erica's recollections of past New Year's Eves, each fragment of memory a piece in the mosaic that is family history. As Erica soon discovers, memory can be as haunting as any ghost. With sure, understated prose, Grunwald explores the mysteries of familial love, the power of the past, and the limits of memory and of forgetting.
From Publishers Weekly
On New Year's Eve, the Marks family has traditionally gathered in their Manhattan home to waltz, drink champagne, watch Guy Lombardo on TV and watch the globe drop in Times Square. On New Year's Eve 1990, in a scene near the end of this strong new novel by Grunwald (The Theory of Everything), narrator Erica breaks with tradition and separates herself, husband Edgar and daughter Sarah to nourish her home without the interference of her controlling father and twin sister, Heather. This moment is the fruition of a well-crafted tale of family secrets, memories and myths. Tensions in the family begin to escalate after David, Heather's four-year-old son, is killed in an accident, and Sarah immediately believes he speaks to her from beyond the grave. Ironically, Dad and Heather, both medical doctors, prescribe playing along with Sarah's obsession, a dollhouse she and Heather are furnishing for David; they even engage a shady channeler who promises communication with the dead. Meanwhile, Erica, a university professor of mythology, grimly endures psychiatric help for her child and firmly resists her family's denial of death's finality. Flashbacks to the twins' childhood rivalry reveal the origins of their constant psychological tug-of-war (they even engage in a race to get pregnant) and how the family has sought a center since Mom's death. The denouement, an integration of story time and myth time, is poignant, and healing, with the promise of new life. It contrasts sharply with the climax, whose cruelty is all the more intense because it suggests that it is human nature to forget, time after time, the inhuman pain we inflict in the sacred name of "family." First serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild alternate selection; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.