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New Year’s Eve

Part contemporary family drama, part ghost story, this engrossing, moving novel dramatizes the difficult process of letting go of one's childhood to embrace one's new, chosen family. For most of her adult life, Erica has been mourning the loss of closeness between herself and her twin sister, Heather. When they both give birth within weeks of each other, that closeness is recaptured. Erica's daughter Sarah and Heather's son David are like the siblings their mothers were as children. Three years later David is killed in an accident, and Sarah begins talking to him in Heaven, reporting daily on the details of their communication. While Erica and her husband become increasingly alarmed at Sarah's seeming obsession, Heather encourages it, helps Sarah build a dollhouse according to what she says are David's specifications, and gradually begins to drive an emotional wedge between Sarah and her mother. In the fog of her confused feelings about attachment and loss, childhood and maturity, love and competition, one necessity becomes clear to Erica: She must reclaim her daughter from Heather's grief, and free herself, and her child, to live in the present.

Crown, 1997

 

New Year’s Eve

Crown, 1997

 

Part contemporary family drama, part ghost story, this engrossing, moving novel dramatizes the difficult process of letting go of one's childhood to embrace one's new, chosen family. For most of her adult life, Erica has been mourning the loss of closeness between herself and her twin sister, Heather. When they both give birth within weeks of each other, that closeness is recaptured. Erica's daughter Sarah and Heather's son David are like the siblings their mothers were as children.

Three years later David is killed in an accident, and Sarah begins talking to him in Heaven, reporting daily on the details of their communication. While Erica and her husband become increasingly alarmed at Sarah's seeming obsession, Heather encourages it, helps Sarah build a dollhouse according to what she says are David's specifications, and gradually begins to drive an emotional wedge between Sarah and her mother. In the fog of her confused feelings about attachment and loss, childhood and maturity, love and competition, one necessity becomes clear to Erica: She must reclaim her daughter from Heather's grief, and free herself, and her child, to live in the present.


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Haunting Sarah

New Year’s Eve was made into a 2005 Lifetime movie called Haunting Sarah.

Made into a 2005 Lifetime movie called Haunting Sarah
 

REVIEWS of New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve depicts this age-old struggle [between sisters] with sympathy and skill, slyly blending allusions to myth with the minutiae of domestic life. Ms. Grunwald is wise enough to show that family crises can be tempered by time, and that even the greatest emotional fissures, although never closed, can still somehow be crossed. — Polly Morrice, The New York Times

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. ...A haunting rites-of-passage novel that, despite the required suspension of disbelief, is both profound and life-affirming. — Kirkus Reviews

 

FROM READERS on amazon.com

One of the best books I’ve ever read. This book is about how we all deal with mourning differently, but it's handled with a light, deft hand that makes you think about the theme later, after you’ve enjoyed the story. The characters are rich, the plot moves, and the concept is brilliant. The only thing I don't like about this book is the title, and that’s only because it doesn’t telegraph how rich this book is. Because I'm a writer, I was just asked to do a paragraph on my favorite “forgotten book” for a blog. I read A LOT of books, and there was no contest. This was it.

I found this book to be one which haunted me in many ways. The story of sibling rivalry, family secrets, and a search for new beginnings. A story of how one moment in time can alter one’s path forever. A quick read but one which stays with you much longer.

Although this novel may be labeled a “ghost story,” it is not the kind of supernatural, Stephen King–type thriller we’ve associated with such a label. It is never clear whether something out of the ordinary is going on, which is only fitting, since this is not the focus of the book. Instead, we are treated to a compelling and realistic depiction of the strained relationship between two estranged sisters. I agree with a previous reviewer. This is one of the best books I’ve read recently.