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Publisher's Summary

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 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 when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee 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 apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself - an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still 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.

A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian's finest novels to date - breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.

©2014 Chris Bohjalian (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Emily's story is both heartbreaking and frightening.... The book rings with poetry and truth." (Jeanne Bogino, Library Journal)
"I have a new favorite Chris Bohjalian novel. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is a book I wish I'd been smart enough to write: A masterpiece of narrative voice, of emotion, and of how - as Emily Dickinson might say - the sparest of words can hold a wealth of pain. If you need any proof that fiction can scare us, move us, and break our hearts simultaneously - look no further." (Jodi Picoult)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

Overall a good book, but poorly narrated

I was very caught up by the story of this young girl. However, his daughter, Grace's, narration was flat and uninflected, clearly showed a lack of ability to read with character. A professional narrator or actor would have made the story even more riveting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Man writes as teenage girl.

How can an "older" man write like a teenage girl? Chris Bohjalian did a fantastic job of doing just that. I picked out this book because I have read many other books by Chris Bohjalian and have liked every one of them. This one was quite different from his other books and I wasn't sure I would like it in the beginning when it was in the voice of a teenage girl, with teen language. The character development was superb and heart-wrenching. Interesting that Bohjalian's daughter is the narrator for this audio-book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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great choice for YA & adult book clubs...

Where does Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Captivating! I listened over a period of time as I was recuperating from a surgery.

What did you like best about this story?

Living near a nuclear plant, many of the emotions & concerns about an explosion have crossed my mind. It made me wonder if a similar storyline would follow in our area.

What about Grace Blewer’s performance did you like?

So convincing that she moves through the emotions of loss & trying to rationalize how she feels people must see her... as the daughter of the operator who contributed to the plant malfunction!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When she returned to her home after the plant explosion... and begin to plan her new life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A deeply moving story read with honesty

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Chris Bohjalian's writing is beautiful. The story is moving and harrowing. It is told in the first person as a long journal entry and is read as such. I listened it it in two sessions.

What other book might you compare Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands to and why?

Catcher in the Rye, although the story line is much more serious and tragic. A vulnerable, desperate teenager is an unusual main character and I wanted only the best resolution for her.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Emily realizes that she will not see her friend again. (There is another scene, but I don't want to spoil the story.)

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

For most of the book, I had a lump in my throat.

Any additional comments?

The disaster in the book is part of the story in as much as it defines Emily's circumstances regarding her parents and the danger of her returning to the place she grew up and the people she knows. It is not a book about nuclear power, it is a story of a troubled teenager and how her life is turned upside down bu the disaster.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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narrator so bad, i could not finish

What would have made Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands better?

I could not even read half. The narrator spoiled it completely. Would have liked to have heard more pf the story,, but could not tolerate the narrator's voice or storytelling. I am going to return it.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure yet

Would you be willing to try another one of Grace Blewer’s performances?

NO

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Narrator practically "hurt" my brain.

Would you try another book from Chris Bohjalian and/or Grace Blewer?

Yes with Bohjalian; no with Blewer.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

A different narrator.

How could the performance have been better?

Character in the book is young but the narrator isn't skilled enough to sound "young" well.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • TM
  • 11-02-17

Touching

I’ve always enjoyed books written by Chris Bohjalian. This one was very touching and so potentially real it was scary. I was impressed to find out who the reader was. You will be too. Looking forward to more.

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Is best book to date

About 20 years ago, I took two of Chris's classes at Trinity College. Over the years, I have followed his writing. I have enjoyed his previous novels, but this one will stick with me for the rest of my life. The depiction of Emily Shepard was stunning, emotionally raw, and, in many ways, uplifting. Despite the trauma she indoors, her resiliency is breathtaking. On a sidenote, I remember Chris talking about his very small child named Gracie when I had him as a professor. So, I loved hearing her as the near raider of this book. Thank you Chris for all you do. Keep up the wonderful work! And Grace, keep narrating. You are a pro!

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Chris Bohjalian is my new favorite author!

I can't get enough! LOVED the narrator in this story! Just perfect! Thank you Mr. Bohjalian and Grace!

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Great narration and curious plot.

This audiobook is well written and an intriguing story but super sad. No happy endings. Barely a ray of sunshine poking through anywhere. Bring your box of Kleenex.