Friday, July 25, 2014

(67)Close Your Eyes. Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Pages: 288

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Publication Date: July 8, 2014


That day started just like any other day for Emily Shepherd. She went off to school and her parents went off to their jobs at the nuclear power plant near their Vermont home. It was during lunch that everything changed.  The sirens sounded and the teachers rounded everyone up on school buses, not even allowing them to get their stuff from their lockers.  The evacuation was quick and the rumors were even quicker, but the reality was soon revealed.  There was a meltdown at the plant.  And the rumor running rampant is that Emily's father was the reason why nineteen people died and the Northern Kingdom is now a nuclear wasteland.  Once Emily realized what happened she took off from the evacuation camp and it started her life on the streets and it was not an easy life. Often times her only company was the works of Emily Dickinson. She survived by becoming a prostitute and hanging out with serious drug users and doing things she never thought she would do.   But that stopped when she met up with nine year old, Cameron.  Now Emily has a purpose, she has a reason to get to tomorrow.  But can a teenage girl and a young boy survive a Vermont winter on the street?  Will the rest of her life be spent on the streets?  Will the world ever forget the role her parents played in the meltdown and let her move on with her life?

I finished Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands several days ago, yet it frequently  lingers at the back of my mind.  I have enjoyed many apocalyptic novels in my time, but none seemed so real as this book. Have never seemed so possible. The book is written in journal format and kind of jumps around, but that is typical teenage fashion, so it just adds to the authenticity.  Reading Emily's words just made  my heart ache, she was so alone and that led her to do some pretty drastic things just to get by. Things that she never would have done prior to the meltdown.  Then when she met up with Cameron there was a little sense of hope as you watched her try to prevent him from experiencing life on the street the way she experienced it up to that point. They spent a lot of time in the park and the library doing things a parent, or big sister would do with a young one.  Once Emily came to grips with the fact that her parents were gone she was so concerned about her beloved dog.  I could so relate to that, because my dogs are my babies and the thought of them alone would worry me to know end.  I am not sure I would have done what she did, going back into the thick of things, but I can understand why she did.  She had nothing else to lose.  The title alone has meaning that will likely make your eyes leak, it comes from real events that took place in New England, but I won't spoil it.

Bottom line, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of those books that will touch your heart.  You will find yourself reading furiously hoping that not only will survive, but thrive, despite everything that has happened.  There are a lot of discussion points with this book, so it might be a great book club selection, but just be sure to read it.  Trust me on this one.


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