Tag Archives: Close Your Eyes Hold Hands

Book Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (3/5)

17 Sep

If you haven’t read one of my Chris Bohjalian book reviews before, get ready. I’m a big fan of his. He pulls on my heartstrings in ways I didn’t think were possible and I like to tweet him. So when I heard he was coming out with a YA book, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, I think I’ll stick to his adult fiction from now on.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

1,000,000 points for originality. It was interesting to hear Bohjalian’s take on what would happen with a complete nuclear meltdown in the modern US. It’s something I’d never considered before. I liked that he used someone who was affected by the disaster in an unusual way. Most people lost their houses while Emily lost her entire family. What bothered me was that Emily’s story was very mature. She went through a lot of things a 16-year-old shouldn’t have to think about. And she justified a lot of things no human should ever undergo or see. I felt a lot of this was left open to the reader to interpret and I didn’t feel this was 100% appropriate for a YA book. At the end of the book, you see Emily keeping her razor close by for comfort, implying that cutting is comforting and not something a strong character could overcome. After seeing her come through so much, I would have liked to see her defeat her vices.

Growing up, I knew people who had some of Emily’s issues, but never all of them at once. I knew people who cut, people who took prescription drugs, people who slept around, and people who ran away from home. But wrapping them up into one person was intense. I’m not sure she would have survived it all. I was confused by her protective nature with Cameron. She obviously had a motherly instinct to help him, but it hadn’t kicked in before and she wasn’t taking good care of herself at the same time. Granted, it was better, but she still had her razor and given the chance, might have used. Maybe not, I could be wrong. Anyway, I usually associate an urge like that with a woman who’s lost a child, not a sixteen-year-old. That confused me a bit.

Truthfully, I didn’t ‘like’ any of the characters. None of them was someone I’d want to be friends with or would acknowledge on the street. Maybe Cameron because I felt bad for him, but he was a bit flat as a character to me. We didn’t get too much of his personality in the book. There were a lot of small side characters that showed up for a page or two that ended up disappearing that I liked, but no one who stuck around.

When I studied abroad, there were things about home that I missed. Small things, like my pillow and food from certain restaurants, but big things, too, like my parents and friends. Emily misses these things, too, but she can never go back to them. And when she finally tries to, nothing is the same. The people are gone, the buildings are empty. I would have momentary fears while I was in the UK that everything would be gone when I got back, but Emily lived that nightmare.

Me and Chris Bohjalian

Me and Chris Bohjalian

I was relieved when Emily started getting her act together at the end. Seeing her try to hold a job and buying groceries was reassuring that everything was going to be okay. I was so hopefully when she started asking other people for help. I guess if things hadn’t gone south, she might have made it. I like to think so, anyway.

The non-linear plotline bothered me the most. I was confused as to the order of things and when Emily was with certain people and if X had happened already or if that was after the part I was listening to and where Y fit into this line. Emily kept it somewhat straight by dividing time into BC (Before Cameron) and AC (After Cameron) but I still found things confusing within these parts.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Grace Blewer, Bohjalian’s daughter. I liked this a lot because I think Bohjalian was thinking of Grace a lot while he was writing. She’s the 16-year-old he’s known most intimately and during the interview at the end of the recording, he admits he asked Grace for help with vocabulary from time to time, so it was literally her words she was reading. Blewer is a trained actress and did a good job narrating Emily.

I thought the message in this book was a little too obscure. I think Emily was so far gone that she thought there was no forgiveness yet found out she was wrong. That was the one message I got that I liked; we can have a second chance if we ask for it. She gave up on herself too quickly and gave up again when Cameron got sick.

Writer’s Takeaway: My biggest issue with this book was the maturity of the content and the age of the protagonist. It felt weird to be reading about what Emily went through and know it was a 16-year-old and not someone in their mid-twenties. Not that being in your mid-twenties makes any of that more acceptable, but it would make it feel a little less ‘weird’ to read. I think it’s a matter of matching the book with the right audience. It didn’t feel like a YA book to me, but it was directed to a YA audience.

 

A great concept that didn’t work for me for some unknown reason. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian | Pathologically Literate
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian | No Charge Bookbunch

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WWW Wednesday, 2-September-2015

2 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Never ToldCurrently reading:  Slow going on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I don’t have a lot of time where I’m sitting on my phone now. Not as many doctor’s appointments. I guess that’s good?
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is still on hold.
Close to the end but not quite done with. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I’m really close to the end and I’m thinking there’s no way this can end well.
I’ve just started The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. Not far enough into it yet to say something so look for more next week.
I’m waiting for an eAudio from the library but in the meantime, I’m starting Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This was a free Audible book from the Ford Audiobook Club, which is making a return so if you haven’t joined yet, I encourage you to! Free audiobooks!

Hold HandsRecently finished: Got through two! Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook I’d been excited to read. It wasn’t my favorite title by this author but was a solid story. The review will be out in a few weeks.
The second on was The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. It was a quick read and I sped through it over a weekend trip to the cabin. I wanted to read it before the movie comes out because I’m pretty sure I’ll see it even though I didn’t like the first book or first movie. I feel like they should just print money and charge me for it. Ugh.

One book review this past week. I’m not a big fan of Alice Hoffman and my review of The Museum of Extraordinary Things shows that. Take a look if you’d like.

SilkwormReading Next: I put a hold on The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith on eAudio. I hope it comes in soon!
I don’t have plans for any other books right now. I’ve got a few to get through before I start thinking of that.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 26-August-2015

26 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


ScorchCurrently reading:  I finally got Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell back on Monday. Woo! This won’t be the fastest progressing book I read, but I’m excited to make headway with it.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is out, too. I just want one of these now and it’s seeming like that’s too much to ask.
I just got back to The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer after a week off to get through Dark Places. I hope to finish this up soon.
Just a little bit with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. Again, I’m close to finishing this one so I hope to get through it soon.
I decided to grab The Scorch Trials by James Dashner next. I’m hoping it’s a quick read and I can get it over with quickly and move on to some other books I’ve been looking forward to.

MiniaturistRecently finished: I finished The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton on Sunday. Review to come but in summary I’ll say this was a bit over-hyped in my opinion. Good, but not outstanding.
I finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn on Monday. I don’t want to brag, but I half figured it out early on! I was so excited to see the story unfold. This one will be a high rating from me!

One review out this week, one you were all asking me about. Click to find my review of The Martian by Andy Weir! Please go check it out and let me know what you thought about this awesome book. I’m so excited for the movie.

Boleyn InheritanceReading Next: I think I’m going to finish up my When Are You Reading? Challenge next. I only have one book left and it’s on my shelves. So up next should be The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I’m a big fan of Gregory and can only remember one or two books of her’s I didn’t enjoy. I’m looking forward to this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-August-2015

19 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


MiniaturistCurrently reading:  I want to get Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell back soon. I need an ebook in my life.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai would be fine, too. As long as I get an ebook. Please, Book Gods?
Good progress The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I listened to more on my drive back from Chicago on Sunday. However, as it seems all of my books are, this is temporarily on hold. Read on to find out why!
On hold with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. Again, something more pressing has come up.
I finally received my eAudio of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn! Yes, this is why everything is on hold right now. This is a long book and I need to get through it before it’s returned so I’m putting my other audio aside for now and pushing through on this one. I’m making decent progress because of Bout of Books. I hope I can keep it up.
While I was on vacation, I needed a new book and was lucky to find The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton on sale at an indie store in Chicago. It’s so pretty!

CastleRecently finished: I finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls while I was away. I enjoyed it a lot. It was different from what I was expecting but still enjoyable. I’m amazed at her strength!

And one book review for your reading pleasure. I wrote up my thoughts after re-reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Can’t wait for the movie!

ScorchReading Next: For once, I’m really not sure. I’ve decided that my book club reading A Widow for One Year is unfortunately, one I need to drop. I’m not happy about this, but it’s become a logistical impossibility for me. So at the moment, I’m without book guidance. I think I might grab The Scorch Trials by James Dashner before the movie comes out. I know I’ll get suckered into seeing it. It should be a quick read I can power through during Bout of Books.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-August-2015

12 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


CastleCurrently reading:  I should get Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell back soon. I hope. I miss it.
Also waiting for I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. So yeah, no ebook right now is weird for me and I’m not a fan. It makes me angry.
Good progress The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer yesterday. I drove to Chicago for a conference (which is why my response time probably sucks. Sorry.) which means 5 hours of audio time. I’ll have another 5 on Sunday so I hope to be almost done with this one soon!
Steady progress with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. I like it? It’s interesting, but I feel bad for the main character instead of outright liking her. So a bit mixed at this point.
I was able to start The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and so far, it’s interesting. Not the light-hearted read I need right now by any means, but enjoyable. It’s one of those ‘so crazy it has to be true’ stories and it’s mindblowing.

ExtraordinaryRecently finished: I made it through The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. This was way too slow to start for me and it was hard to make my way to a good point. I wish it had been a lot faster because I lost interest and mentally gave up on it.

And a book review! Look at me go. My review for Every Man for Himself by Baryl Bainbridge went up yesterday. Go check it out.

DarkPlacesReading Next: Next for physical book will be A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I think my work book club is falling apart and it’s making me sad.
I hope to start a new eAudio soon, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I’ve had it on hold forever and it’s finally coming up, just after the movie comes out. Could this be more perfect?


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-August-2015

5 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Hold HandsCurrently reading:  I almost hit the middle of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. So close. I might have to return it soon so I’m hoping I can renew it without losing it this time.
Oh hold with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Stand by in case I lose Cloud Atlas.
Half way with The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I’m liking it, but still not 100% bought into the main character. You would think with such a long book I would be by now, but no such luck.
I’m on a mission to finish The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. The action was really slow to start and now that I’m over half way, I can finally see where this is going. I hope it picks up a bit more and I can get on with it.
I started a new eAudio: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. It’s his first YA and it’s not the kind of YA I’m used it. It’s very ‘raw,’ which makes sense coming from an author who normally writes for adults. I’m liking it so far. Bohjalian’s daughter narrates the audio. She’s a trained actress and does a great job.

MockingjayRecently finished: Two! Two whole books, both audio. The first is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. It was nice to refresh this one in my mind. I remembered the major actions, but not the details. It’s going to be hard to wait for November to get here! I also finished Andy Weir. This book was really great. I highly recommend it for sci-fi or adventure fans. The narrator has a strong voice so it’s great for any writers struggling with that as well.

One book review up for you all to enjoy as well, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I really liked this one and hope you all do, too.

WidowReading Next: I got the copy of A Widow for One Year by John Irving last week, but unfortunately that’s got to wait. First I need to read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls for a book club. I hope I can get to these soon!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!