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 girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a 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 leave 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 house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily 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.
About the Autho
Chris Bohjalian is the author of seventeen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, arriving July 8, 2014 from Doubleday.
His other books include such New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.
Chris’s awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. His earlier novels have been selected as “Best Books of the Year” by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, Publishers’ Weekly, and Salon. His work had been translated into over 25 languages and three times become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers).
He has written for a wide variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and has been a columnist for Gannett’s Burlington Free Press since 1992. Chris graduated from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.
MY THOUGHTS – ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
Emily is fixated on Emily Dickinson and not a very happy camper. Even though her life is far from perfect, (her parents drink – a lot), she has a few friends and even more neuroses. As a junior in high school, she feels her calling is to be a writer. When the nuclear plant her dad runs and her mother does PR for, melts down and they are killed, she has become the daughter of the most despised people on the planet in less than 24 hours. The small town and outlying area are evacuated and Emily slips out of school to make her way to Burlington, Vermont, where she changes her identity and starts life as a homeless teen, lost in the crowd. Life on the streets is hard and she easily blends in with tips from other teens.
She tries to get her life together, essentially adopting a young boy who has survived much worse than a nuclear melt-down and when he ends up extremely sick, Emily thinks she has ruined everything. Setting out to find the one thing that will make her feel whole, Emily returns to her home to find her dog, Maggie. Entering the quarantine, she avoids the men in full fallout gear and makes it back. Surviving by breaking into homes for food, she discovers Maggie and Emily has a happy moment. Eventually, she is caught and taken back to civilization where a freind and neighbor takes her in. There is so much heartbreak in this story, but each emotional page is impossible to forget.
If you are a fan of young adult dytopian tales, this book will end up being your favortie of the year. It is in my top ten and so far there are only three on that list. The story is told through Emily’s journalling and makes it easy to connect with her. It doens’t follow a linear path, but the twist and turns make Emily a unique character. I think this book would be perfect for older teens, but there is mentions of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual situations, and mental health issues. If you haven’t read this author, this is an excellent place to start. It did remind me a bit of Jodi Picoult and Alice Sebold.
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