Monday, March 31, 2014
Close your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
5 out of 5 stars - Superbly written and hauntingly poignant, this novel is destined to become a modern day classic with a character who is authentic, vulnerable, and so honest that it will make a reader's heart ache with the desire to protect her. Shelter her. Save her.
Emily Shepard was 16-years-old the day Reactor Number One exploded on the second to the last day of her junior year of high school at Reddington Academy. She and her parents, who both worked at the nuclear power plant nearby on Cape Abenaki, lived comfortably there in Reddington, Vermont -- also known as the Northeast Kingdom. On the morning of the meltdown, Emily ran away from the temporary evacuation site where all the students had been bussed to wait until parents and guardians would come to retrieve them from a safe zone. What follows is her tale of life basically alone on the streets -- for her mother and father are surely dead. And, what's even worse -- her father is being blamed for the disaster. Afraid to reveal who she really is, and teetering on the edge of emotional breakdown, Emily lives mostly inside her head remembering the poems of her much-loved favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, as a relatable gauge of her emotions. She's always been impulsive and had been in trouble before because of her poor judgment, but now she has to stay alive in a world so different from her previous life "waffling between suicide and survival."
I loved this book and feel that it will be very appealing to all ages, especially young adults, because the heroine is so believable -- not superhuman but real. The story is one that could have come straight from recent headlines (Fukushima) and will linger as a reminder that "radioactivity lasts as long as the soul." The title serves as both a precaution and a leap of faith. I'll be recommending this novel to everyone.
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the e-book ARC to review.