Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

After a brief hiatus due to personal issues, I tried to get back into Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands but never quite could. It's not to say that Chris Bohjalian's writing isn't good, or that the novel isn't interesting. It just seems that I could never reacquaint myself with the narrator Emily Shepard. I will do my best...

Emily Shepard introduces herself by telling readers of her life in an igloo as a homeless child. One horrific accident, involving her parents caused her to be in that position. Both her parents work in a nuclear power plant in Vermont where a Chernobyl-like event happens. The whole town of Cape Abenaki is forced to evacuate due to radiation. In less than a few hours, her father, an engineer, and her mother, a communications director, are the most hated people in America since alcohol may have played in the disaster as well. Fearing that she may be as well, Emily decides to create a new past. 

Emily splits the story into two sections. One is BC, before Cameron and AC, after Cameron. Cameron is a nine year old she comes to look after while she is on the streets of Vermont. He too has been dealt a bad hand, having been placed in one bad foster home after another. Cameron gives Emily's life purpose finally. Before Cameron, she was somewhat of a trouble-maker and essentially being a teen.

I usually don't read too much Young Adult fiction. There's something about the teen voice and the "me, me, me" thing that really grates on my nerves. Bohjalian took care not to make me regret picking this up. Emily's voice isn't the norm, although much of that can be due to the fact that she's lost so much. She's wise beyond her years yet so damaged. Readers will instantly know that somethings wrong with her mentally and will want to protect her from the world and herself. Seeing Emily do well is what kept me reading on.

As I mentioned, I had a week long hiatus from any serious reading and once I did pick this back up, I just couldn't really focus. It's not due to Bohjalian's writing at all. Overall,Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is a formidable coming of age story that may tug at the heartstrings. The story of Emily Shepard is one that should not be missed.   ***

Copy provided by Doubleday via Netgalley

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