A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself -- an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.
A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.
Bohjalian's (The Light in the Ruins) impressive 16th novel charts the life of a teenage girl undone after a nuclear disaster. Already troubled, rebellious Emily Shepard becomes orphaned and homeless after the meltdown of Reddington's nuclear power plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Wandering aimlessly, she finds refuge in a local shelter with Cameron, a nine-year-old boy she soon finds herself protecting. Emily is banished once she's pegged as the daughter of heavy-drinking parents both employed (and held responsible by surviving townsfolk) at the power plant where the meltdown occurred. Frequent flashbacks to her days at school and the youth shelter show her surrounded by influential miscreants, self-abusing "cutters," and drug takers like friends Andrea and Camille. Stealing and shoplifting through neighboring towns in order to survive the frigid New England winter becomes an often harrowing ordeal for Emily and Cameron as she attempts to figure out her next move. Through her first-person narration, readers become intimately familiar with Emily (and Cameron), as she grapples with the frustrating life of a misunderstood homeless youth on the run. Emily continually surprises herself with her newfound maternal instincts for Cameron and how difficult it is to survive life on the streets. Her admiration for kindred spirit Emily Dickinson serves to humanize her plight, as does an epiphany in the book's bittersweet conclusion.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Honestly picked up this book expecting it to be heart warming. It wasn't, but that didn't make it disappointing. This author definitely has a unique style of writing. I loved every last word of this book. I could not put it down. It's a must read, but do not expect a happy ending.
I read the ebook from my library, but it is such a good read, that it's worth paying for! I love the author's writing style. There's both humor & sadness & even though the it's told in the voice of a 17-year old, it's a great book for people of all ages! I highly recommend this book, & plan on trying more books by this author!
I could find no redeeming value in this book whatsoever. One catastrophe after another and her life became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not a feel good type of book if that's what you're looking for. Depressing and maudlin.