Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; Chris Bohjalian

 Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; Chris Bohjalian
Random House Audio and Doubleday - 2014

Emily Shepard, is a 16-year-old homeless teen who has been living on the streets around Burlington, Vermont. Some 6-months earlier, a nuclear reactor exploded causing a meltdown at the Cape Abenaki plant, where Emily’s dad was the chief engineer and her mother a public relations executive. They were known by many as “Vermont’s Power Couple.” Her parents are dead and her home and hometown, as she knew it, are now an “exclusion zone.” Even more disturbing is the rumor that her father may have been responsible for the meltdown (both parents drink too much) and her father may have been drunk on the job.

Pre–nuclear meltdown Emily was pretty much like any other teen, craving attention from her parents, sometimes angry at them. She's smart but admits to being an underachiever. She has a fondness for Emily Dickinson and she’d love to be a poet. Post-meltdown, she’s a kid trying to survive and stay under the radar after hearing strangers talk about her father causing the disaster. She's industrious and in winter she made her own igloo on Lake Champlain from ice and trash bags filled with leaves. Emily in and out of homeless shelters, never using her real name for fear of others finding out who she really is and who her parents were. She steals food and other items she needs to survive. Sadly, to cope, she's become a “cutter” and has even resorted to prostitution for quick cash.  There is a softer side to Emily as well. She meets and cares for a young, runaway boy from the foster care system – Cameron is just 9 years old.

Emily’s life of the streets is heartbreaking and the author captures the raw emotion of this teen perfectly through her first person narration. Gritty, raw and real, a great story -- I loved the way the author chose to end his novel. I do think this story may be too dark for some readers. The audio book was read by Grace Blewer who did a great job.

4.5/5 stars (eGalley and audio book)

35 comments:

  1. This sounds a rather sad read though a good story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lots of buzz about this one - glad you liked it, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Futuristic in a sense, dystopian, sci fi? How would you categorize this novel? Sounds like a good premise on which to base a book, though I don't read much of these genres. Glad you liked it. Harvee
    Book Dilettante

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None of those really Harvee. Set in the present and an event which could happen really...when you think about it.

      Delete
  4. I've gone the audio route for a couple of Bohjalian's novels, so will consider it for this one. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is a good one and only once character really to follow.

      Delete
  5. I've got this on audio as well and can't wait to give it a go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy Kathy; I think you will be glad you read it.

      Delete
  6. I respect this author and I've wondered about his new book. It sounds like such an interesting plot line. I'm not good at listening to fiction on audio-i tend to lose track of the characters. I can do nonfiction though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle -- only Emily to keep track of really so it's a good audio choice.

      Delete
  7. What a powerful story. Homelessness is one of my triggers though, and I would have to pass on this one because of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ryan, we all have those triggers. Mine is anything with the slightest amount of animal abuse.

      Delete
  8. I am looking forward to this one. It seems a little different from what he's done before too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have only read one book by this author, but I loved his writing and swore I would read every book he's written. And yet, I still haven't gotten to a second yet. Terrible, terrible. I do want to read this one. It sounds good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy, you are in for more terrific reads when you do. Double Bind was one of my favorites.

      Delete
  10. Yikes! I think it sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This one does sound very tempting. I read and loved one book by this author (Midwives); but couldn't get into Sandcastle Girls or any of the others I tried. This one might bring me back. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not a fan of Bohjalian's historical fiction, but have loved all of his contemporary novels.

      Delete
  12. I loved this one too - my review went up this past Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did see your review Sarah and was happy to see that you enjoyed it as well.

      Delete
  13. Hmm, I don't know if this one would be for me, though it does sound compelling. I'm glad it was a winner for you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I read this and enjoyed it as I have all of the books I read by Chris B. This is a melancholy tale of teens on the edge of destruction, but there is some hope throughout it and very well-written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is sad yet hopeful and like you said, Rita, very well written. Glad u liked it.

      Delete
  15. If you liked it then that's good enough for me. I will put it on my reading list. Thanks Diane :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I liked a lot about this book -- but something always made me feel as though I was watching from a distance. I guess the style didn't appeal to me very much, but the story itself was fascinating! I'd be interested in seeing whether I like it more via audio, as you recommend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The style takes a bit getting use to but once I did, I enjoyed it.

      Delete
  17. I loved this one - a favorite for the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked it a lot but not sure if it will be a favorite by Dec as I'm getting so great books lately:)

      Delete
  18. That actually sounds like a pretty good story.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's been a while since I've read anything by this author, so I may have to give it a try...on audio. Hope it isn't too sad/dark.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)