|Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
"I built an igloo against the cold out of black plastic trash bags filled with wet leaves."
A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a 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 leave 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 house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily 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.
I think Arianna gave us an excellent review of this book. I'll try and fill in the gaps but I think that might be hard to do. This was an audiobook for me and I was very captivated by the book in that format. This might not be the case for everyone but I know for myself, I end up having a different experience based on the format of the book I'm reading. I know I've gone on a tangent about this before, so I'll spare you my rant. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is a heartbreaking tale about a girl stuck in the middle of a real life nightmare. I say nightmare because what happens to her is so unimaginable, but at the same time... entirely possible. Her (Emily's) parents work at the local power plant up in Vermont, which isn't that crazy except for when tragedy strikes the town and the power plant has a meltdown. Emily knows in her heart that her parents are dead and that the cause of the meltdown might lay in their hands. During the evacuation of her school, she ends up overhearing kids and adults talking about her parents and giving her strange looks. The reader is forced to follow Emily through all this but at the same time wanting to cover her ears and walk her away from the mess of emotions. Understandably, people are upset and will be talking about what might have caused the accident in the first place, it's only human nature to point fingers, right? In this book, we get to see the wrongness of it all through the eyes of an innocent girl. It's truly heartbreaking.
What happens next in the book is somewhat predictable, after Emily hears the inner thoughts of her neighbors and friends, knowing that they blame her family for what has happened, she bolts. I don't think anyone in her position would have done differently. Just when you thought things couldn't get any sadder, they do. We follow Emily on her sad trip between finding her next meal, getting a good nights rest and learning who to trust. The entire time you feel hopeful for her, like she gets this power from within herself to keep going. Along the way, she meets this other homeless kid, much younger, and decides to help him out. These two become a team (with her acting as the parent/older sister) and they try and get by together. The journey they go through is just REALLY hard and sad, this is not a book for the "happy" only reading club. Nope. Read this when you have the right frame of mind, but know that the fuzzy parts make you feel really good and it's worth it.
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