Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands -- Book Review

From the cover :

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. 

My thoughts :

Though the ultimate cause for her homelessness is an unusual, catastrophic disaster, Emily's life as a homeless teen in Burlington is probably not that different from the lives of homeless teens every day. They must find themselves involved in their own personal disaster to force their hand to run away or be abandoned. The powerful, yet gritty images in Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian show the hopelessness and danger that many kids find themselves in as they succumb to prostitution, theft, and drug use to survive.

Bohjalian succeeds in bringing a genuine voice to Emily Shepherd--she is the outwardly tough yet vulnerable and sometimes irrational main character of his story. 

Emily sees the events through the eyes of a teenager with all the emotions and fears of a girl overwhelmed by her circumstances. Her choices are often foolish yet she reacts with the knowledge and capabilities she has at her age--making her at once an honest unreliable narrator. 

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian is a compelling though dark story of a lost and confused girl. Emily is a sympathetic character and her plight tugged at my heart strings. The nuclear meltdown takes second stage to Emily's very real, authentic story. Bohjalian proves again that he is full of stories and expert at telling them. 

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian is published by Doubleday and released on July 8, 2014

**I received a complimentary copy of Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.**

1 comment:

Anita LeBeau said...

Nice review Cindi. I was really moved by this book.