Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-53483-3
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. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/12/2014
Release date: 07/08/2014
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-0-307-91745-4
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-385-68192-6
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8041-9444-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-7993-0
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-0-307-91748-5
Open Ebook - 175 pages - 978-0-385-53484-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-307-74393-0
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