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Probably best kept shut

Close Your Eyes
Amanda Eyre Ward

Close Your Eyes Amanda Eyre Ward HarperPress Dh100

Like its central character, Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward suffers from a crisis of identity. Lauren Mahdian's trauma is rooted in the childhood murder of her mother, a crime for which her father is now serving a life sentence and which therefore resulted in the loss of both of her parents in a single night.

For the novel itself, the problem is a confusion over whether all this amounts to a literary whodunnit or complex psychological portrait of family relationships tested to the limit.

Not that a book can't be both. The problem with Close Your Eyes is that it doesn't work particularly well as either, lacking both tension, as the real story of Lauren's mother emerges two decades later, and emotional clout, as she tries to resolve the subsequent mental turmoil that threatens to overwhelm her.

There are missed opportunities, too, in the under-developed backstory of her father, a philandering Egyptian poet whose charm cannot disguise his failure to provide for his family. And the ending would do credit to a Hallmark drama.

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