Close Your Eyes: book review

Close Your Eyes , by Amanda Eyre Ward. Publisher: Random House (July 26, 2011). Literary fiction. Hardcover: 272 pg.

After my mother’s stone setting, I had been told to stop mourning. So I did stop—I was a good girl. But if you don’t let yourself feel sadness, you don’t feel any other emotions, either: hunger, happiness, love.

A captivating mystery/thriller, Close Your Eyes is also the story of self-discovery and family. The focus is on Lauren, a 32-year-old realtor in Austin, Texas who still tries to cope with what she thinks happened when she was eight. Her mother was murdered and her father got convicted for the crime. He’s incarcerated. She has panic attacks, nightmares. Lauren feels alone and isolated despite her loving relationship with her long-term boyfriend Gerry. How could anyone possibly understand how she feels and what kind of loss she’s suffered? Her brother Alex relates to her and provides her with protection and companionship. Alex thinks their father is innocent and has worked to clear his name for years. Perhaps his scientific mind [he’s a doctor] allowed him to come to that conclusion.

But I had loved him so fully, a girl’s love, and he had betrayed us all. I felt a familiar rush of anger and need; they were bound together for me. So as not to be subsumed, I shoved the surging back.

When Alex goes missing when he’s abroad with Doctors without Borders, Lauren begins to re-examine everything she’s believed. Lauren just wasn’t sure. Now with Alex missing, Lauren feels adrift and continuing Alex’s research might help her focus and ground her. Author Amanda Eyre Ward’s vivid descriptions allow you to feel you’re sweating out a sticky Austin summer. She also based this provocative thriller on a real-life case that took place near her hometown in New York in the 80s. Layered characters, questionable recall and a nuanced tone all make Close Your Eyes a complete page-turner with unexpected moments.

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