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Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  9,267 ratings  ·  1,663 reviews
A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the best-selling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experi
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Doubleday (first published 2014)
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Popular Answered Questions

Jenny I did not, but that was one of the most powerful moments of the book for me: when that is revealed.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Alycia She's quoting Emily Dickinson. I don't think it has anything to do with her parents.
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Community Reviews

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Elyse
2.5 to be honest! I like this author 'a lot' --I've enjoyed all of his other books --yet this book just does not feel authentic.

Its not a 'horrible' book....but its 'off'.

I'm not sure that 'anything' I write will be the 'reason' for the 'off-ness' or not. I'm not a writer. (but this book is lacking feeling). A reader can only be 'talked-to' for so long. I felt like I was being 'talked-to' this entire novel --with almost no emotion --it feels borderline rude.

Right from start of this novel we l
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Betsy Hetzel
This book has ALL the makings of a gigantic tear-jerker: the teenage, female main character's parents are killed in a nuclear plant explosion, her alcoholic, engineer father is blamed and she, Emily, their only child, is vilified. She winds up in shelters so she has something to eat, in apartments w/ druggies who "force" her into prostitution so she has someplace to stay, and when these fail, she's out on the streets building an igloo w/ leaves held together by ice and pilfering/stealing what s ...more
Pamela Klinger-horn
Emily Shephard will break your heart. In CLOSE YOUR EYES, HOLD HANDS, author Chris Bohjalian has created an amazing portrait of a teen in crisis. After being orphaned by a nuclear disaster for which her father may have been responsible, Emily sets off on the run. She needs a protector, a family, an adult. Instead,she faces a series of catastrophic choices that lead her deeper into danger. Her only support during this time is the poetry of Emily Dickinson, in whom she finds a kindred spirit.
In th
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Stephen Kiernan
Eighteen books into his career. Chris Bohjalian has created his wisest and most compelling narrator ever.

Emily Shepherd has survived the meltdown of a nuclear plant in her Vermont hometown, but the accident has left her orphaned, homeless, and on the run from people seeking a scapegoat for the disaster. By the bottom of page two she will have you hooked, and rooting for her, as life gets harder and a 16-year-old's capacity for survival is tested in all directions.

A clear-eyed examination of tee
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Patrice Hoffman
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. Bo
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Jennifer
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the first novel I have read by the author Chris Bohjalian. It was not what I expected at all; it's a dark story and I wasn't prepared for the themes it presented. The world building of this dystopian/post-apocalyptic tale is excellent and the character development is well done, so good that parts were hard to read. This story is told narration style by the lead character Emily Shepard. This teenager's world has literally fallen apart. She has nothing but her name, ...more
Connie
Just finished....not my favorite of his....review to come.

I love Bohjalian and think he is a masterful storyteller, but for whatever reason I just did not connect to this book. I didn't emotionally connect to Emily/Abby, nor to very many of the other characters. The journal style of narrative did not especially grab me either. I felt this bounced around way too much that I just never really cared about what was coming next. (view spoiler)
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Pam
Emily is telling her story in only a way that a seventeen year old girl can tell. It is, at times, a bit random and very Double Bind (ish). The title of the book, too, seems a bit random and confusing until it is revealed. And, boy oh boy, when it was revealed, it took my breath away. A quote from the book (w/o giving anything away), "It seems to me that if you didn't know the context of those words, they were kind of pretty."

I had the opportunity to meet Chris this past summer at a book readin
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Lori
This was so different from the two Bohjalian novels that I've read but I really liked it!!! I really enjoyed the journal type format... felt that it added authenticity to Emily's story!!! Which was raw... emotionally gripping and believable!!! Her character was easy to get behind and root for!!! The explanation behind the title was very well placed and could not have had the same significance if it had been done any other way... that was masterfully done!!! Strong 4 stars...
Po Po
Not horrific, but not good either. Just meh. Inauthentic troubled teen girl voice. Felt seriously contrived.

One disaster follows a clusterfuck follows a fiasco follows a colossal mess. I suppose if you like daytime TV, you might like this.
Nicky
I received this book from a first reads giveaway. I was looking forward to it because I had read "Midwives" years ago and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, this book was somewhat of a disappointment.
The story is told by teenage Emily, who has been orphaned by a nuclear reactor disaster. Both her parents were employees at the facility, and it appears her father, perhaps in a drunken state, is responsible for the meltdown.
The story follows Emily's journey for the next year or so, as she makes one
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Kathryn
I just can't get into this story. I so thought it would be something unique and different and captivating. It just didn't do it for me and I have no desire to finish it....darn it anyway....
Branwen *Blaidd Drwg*
I once read a short story about these four guys who've survived a shipwreck and are now in this open boat, and they can see the shore and people on the shore can see them, but the people on the shore don't realize these four dudes are exhausted and in serious trouble because they can't reach the beach. The guys in the boat are in danger of drowning, and the morons on the beach are waving at them because they have no idea. That's sort of how I feel most of the time: I was out at sea in this littl ...more
A Book Vacation
To see my full review:

http://abookvacation.com/2014/07/08/a...

This is an amazing, poignant story that delves deep into the world of teen homelessness. Emily Shepherd promises to tell the whole truth; she doesn’t sugarcoat it for readers, and she sometimes strays from the topic of hand, but the novel flows beautifully and I was enamored from the very beginning.

Life hasn’t been easy for Emily, and as the final remnants of her world fall apart with the meltdown of the nuclear power plant her parent
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Tara
I won a copy of this book in a First Reads giveaway. Here is Amazon's description of the book:

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic 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
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Karen
Disclosure: I got this book as a prepub at ALA, but ended up not reading the print version. Instead, I listened to the audio book from my library. Spoilers throughout!

So, I admit that I grabbed this one on the basis of a quick skim of its back matter, and that I made some mistaken assumptions about its nature overall. The blurb leads with Emily, a teenaged girl who lives in an igloo made of garbage bags, in the aftermath of a nuclear reactor meltdown in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont. Sounds s
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Laurielib
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands was hard to put down. Bohjalian's writing and characters are so impeccably crafted. Emily Shepard is a new teen heroine identified as the "Queen of Underachievers" and suffering from "impulse control". An the only child of two unhappy, yet loving, parents who work at a Vermont nuclear power plant, Emily struggles with growing up and fitting in. Bohaljian captures all the pain, angst and emotional immaturity associated with the teen years. When the plant suffers a melt ...more
Marti
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian is beyond my meager words to describe. I found it to be provoking, poignant, unpredictable (which is to be expected with a teenager as a main character) and unforgettable. I think we often forget how much teenagers feel and how things can be so over the top with them.

Emily’s parents work in the local nuclear reactor. She is an only child who has been lashing out at her parents for their attention and about their drinking. Her favorite companion is M
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Sheri
I almost put this on my young adult shelf. In fact, if the trucker sex was a bit less graphic, I probably would not only have put it on my YA shelf, but suggested it as suitable reading for my 12 year old (and I don't censor much). It reminded me a bit of Age of Miracles and was in general very YA in tone.

The concept of a nuclear meltdown in Vermont (on American soil!) is a great one and I felt could have been much better done. Emily is not a bad narrator and she has a few good insights (my favo
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Olga
I love Bohjalian, have read all, follow him on FB, have great respect for his interest in really tough issues. My favorite is "Before You Know Kindness".
I was so excited to be the first one at my library to check out the CD book "Close your eyes, hold hands". Great narrator - both the character and the performer, Chris's daughter Grace Experience. Tough issues, as always. But...
This time I did not loose sleep over the book. Enjoyed it, was interested but did not loose sleep. Not having been (fo
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Barbara
There was an interesting article/ review in today's Boston Sunday Globe, (6/29/14) with Chris Bohjalian. It was revealing to discover how he attacks each writing project. I especially noted his statement, " I've written some really terrible books...The books that are tree-killing mediocrities are those that I begin without a clear vision."
I can think of one or two which I would agree are what he also calls "clunkers". I wonder if he would agree. I'll have to wait for this one to arrive from the
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Casey Hampton
TUF: Tedious. Uneventful. Frustrating.

I was interested to learn what was happening with the dog, but that's about it. This story is about a young girl trying to survive a nuclear meltdown, and I didn't give a damn, not one little damn. I wanted to care about the characters, what they were facing, how they were overcoming, but in the end... I just didn't. Sure, the situation is interesting enough, but it's the characters we either root for, or against. We need to see growth of some sort, for the
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Kimba
I first discovered Chris Bohjalian in 2011 when I read and loved his suspense thriller, The Night Strangers. Since then I have read two of his historical fictions The Sandcastle Girls and The Light in the Ruins. Each story is vastly different, beautiful, captivating and memorable. It seems no matter what story Bohjalian tells it is destined to entwine itself into my memory.

I am not going to lie; when I saw this title on NetGalley, I requested it without even reading the synopsis. It did not matt
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Harry Brake
I breezed through this in about 4 days and the 271 pages honestly, were not long enough. A gift from a an author, this was more than a gift. Heartbreaking, realistic, yet letting us in to the plight of many individuals, life situations, and the scary potential of technology and its aftermath, this novel on relationships bring you aboard this roller coaster of emotion from the very beginning. Raw in the absolute right places, the ongoing relationships of Emily, the fallout and shadow of how her p ...more
Berna
I hold this author in such high regard that it pains me to rate this book so low. However, I do believe this rating is accurate. This was a rambling, stream of consciousness book that never solidified into a story for me. There were plot lines that were unresolved threads that could have been lifted from the book and never affected the plot line (Emily's cutting). All in all, it was a disappointment that is not worth your time. Not giving up on this author - he has done some fantastic work. Movi ...more
Erika Robuck
Heartbreaking, heartbreaking, addictive, heartbreaking.

Read it.
Meredith
I liked the idea of the plot, theme, and what the character was facing, however when you find yourself rooting more for Maggie the dog rather then Emily the human, that is not a good sign.

I really, really, really wanted to like this book but I gave it the first 50 pages and couldn't go further. I just wasn't connecting with the story or the character. As a few previous reviewers have also mentioned, were I should be feeling bad and concerned for this character, I just wasn't. And that is terrib
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Cathrine
I loved this book so at the start. The voice and the flow. The themes.
There is very little development though and after a while I started to feel 'hmm maybe this should have been a short story rather than a novel'?
This book would work well as a young adult novel I think. Though I would be hesitant due to much reference to drugs and cutting.
Julie
I really wanted to like this book, because I've really loved many of Chris Bohjalian's other books. But I never really warmed up to it. I finished it because I wanted to see where Emily finally ended up, but honestly, I didn't really care about her as much as I expected to. Her voice felt kind of contrived, and she showed much less emotion than I expected a teenage girl to show, given the circumstances. She also seemed much too "tough," adapting to neatly impossible situations with much more gra ...more
Piyali
The fact that Chris Bohjalian is a very powerful writer was evident in his books like Transister Radio, Midwives, SandCastle Girls and others. This book is yet another masterful depiction of a sixteen year old girl Emily Shepard who flees from her world after her parents are killed in the nuclear plant reactor melt down in Cape Abenaki in Vermont. Her father, the engineer in the plant, was deemed responsible for the disaster and she was blamed by the town for the lingering effects of radio activ ...more
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Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 17 books, including ten New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into roughly 30 languages and three times become movies.

The paperback of his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, was just published.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Cour
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More about Chris Bohjalian...
Midwives The Sandcastle Girls The Double Bind Skeletons at the Feast The Light in the Ruins

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“I don’t know, maybe I just wanted to be alone. Maybe I just didn’t want to be social because antisocial people have a whole lot less to lose.” 9 likes
“Welcomes seclusion. Not precisely antisocial, but reclusive.” 2 likes
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