Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author ofMidwives 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.
Publishes in US: July 8th 2014 by Doubleday
Genre: Dystopia Sci/fi
Source: random house via netgalley
Read an excerpt from the novel here
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I wanted to read this one because it sounds like a combo of a type of dystopia/post-apocalytpic and the contemporary grittiness that I enjoy. Emily sounds like such a fighter and a fighter in order to survive not only a literal nuclear meltdown, but also losing both of her parents that same day.
The idea of homelessness hasn't been explored much in YA and I think that its an important topic too, and hopefully one that most readers would never face, but we also hope that readers don't have to experience the bad stuff of the contemporaries out there. Or the chilling government or earth/town ending things like aliens, meltdowns, power losses, etc. And while it scares me that things like this have happened and can happen again, I still can't stop being drawn to the genre.
The world building was believable. I just have to wonder what the actual fall out would be, if the impact would be larger, how we'd react in a similar real life situation. But I don't think that anything was stretched or out of the realm of possibility. On top of the hair-raising, hope to goodness never happens to me element of the story, I liked Emily. True to my prediction she was so strong, she had a will to keep surviving and to protect herself. She was easy to pull for even though I can imagine if it were real life I might be like the other kids and be wary of her because of her parents involvement with the plant.
The beginning did take a bit to get me in, but I liked the premise so I stuck with it, and I was rewarded for that. I think that the jumps in time were a little abrupt and it was pulling me out of the story. I understand that its giving a full picture of Emily's life and what happened before, during and after for her.
At times it did start to ramble and I would skim a little bit, but I always got pulled back in. It felt very literary and then other times just like a teenage girl talking to me.
Cameron was another highlight. He is a kid that she picked up along the way with her journeys, and they effected each other a lot and I saw growth and development with both of them.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Are you afraid of nuclear meltdown?