Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NEW YEAR'S EVE by Lisa Grunwald


by Lisa Grunwald

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-517-70491-9
Publisher: Crown

A beguiling contemporary tale with a supernatural subtext features a family confronting, and then accepting, all those universal heartaches—a child's death, a parent's decline—that can visit even the most functional. Grunwald (The Theory of Everything, 1991, etc.) uses New Year's Eve celebrations past and present to frame the story, set in New York, about Erica and her twin sister Heather. The two were once part of a close-knit family that celebrated each New Year's at home. But as the twins grew older, they drifted apart: Heather became a doctor like their father, married and had a son. Erica, a college professor, felt increasingly rejected. Dad had his problems, too: He never got over their mother's death, and, once retired, resented growing old. Erica marries a colleague, and when she falls pregnant at the same time as Heather, the two begin to recapture their old closeness. Erica has a daughter, Sarah, and Heather another son, David, and while the mothers push strollers and hang out together, the two new cousins develop their own closeness. By the time they are three, the children are inseparable. Then David is killed in a freak accident, and Sarah begins to behave in ways that threaten to destroy the sisters' relationship. Before Erica can even tell her that David is dead, Sarah announces that she has seen him and that he told her he was going away. These conversations with David, in a minutely described heaven, make Sarah a problem in school and encourage the grieving Heather, eager to learn what David is saying, to monopolize her. The ghostly David is eerily prescient. As the sisters fight for Sarah's love, their father shows signs of failing. A dramatic catharsis finally lays the family grief to rest and forges new bonds. A haunting rites-of-passage novel that, despite the required suspension of disbelief, is both profound and life-affirming. (First serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild alternate selection)