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July 8, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold HandsClose Your Eyes, Hold Hands
by Chris Bohjalian
Narrated by Grace Blewer

Genre: Dystopian / YA
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Format: Audio, 8 hours | 15 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 5 of 5

From the Publisher:

A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

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


In the near future, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Emily Shepard is on the run. The area where she lived was evacuated when the power plant melted down. Her parents were missing and presumed dead. Her father worked at the power plant and was being blamed for the accident; all the news reports speculated it was his fault. Emily didn’t wait around to find out what would happen to her. She took off on her own for Burlington, surviving any way she could. But Emily can’t run forever.


The book was written entirely in the first person, from Emily’s perspective. The author did a fantastic job portraying life on the street through the eyes of a teen-aged girl: her thoughts, her fears, her emotions as she made her way through the gritty new reality that she was living in.

I liked Emily and worried about her when trouble loomed. While she tries to stay true to herself and not succumb to the harshness of being homeless, there are times when she gives in and sells herself to get money for food or a place to stay the night. She helps other young children who are also on the run, and grieves for her dog that she could not go back home and rescue. Raw and uncomfortable at times, the tone was realistic and true.

I absolutely loved this book. It was easy to get involved in, and right from the beginning I was hooked. The story flowed and the characters felt real. I worried about Emily when trouble was brewing and wanted her to survive. How could I not like a character who took solace in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and sang her poems to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, a TV show from the 1960s that she used to watch in rerun.

When I first began reading this book, the title didn’t make much sense but I didn’t give it a lot of thought. Towards the end of the book, the meaning becomes clear and makes a powerful statement. And now looking back, I realize I should have known what it referred to.

This is not just another young adult dystopian book in a fantasy world. It’s believable, and such an event could happen. Life on the street and the resulting consequences are portrayed in a realistic manner and one that is happening to homeless teenagers today.

Audio Production:

The book was narrated by Grace Blewer, the author’s daughter. She was a perfect choice for Emily’s voice, performed with the emotional impact needed to make her personality come alive. She even sang the Emily Dickinson poem! This was an easy listen and the 8 hours of audio flew past. Highly recommended and a good choice for those new to audio.

Audio Sample:

Source: Review copy provided by Random House Audio.
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Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Jul 8 2014 10:06 am

    I have the audio and can’t wait to listen to this! I love Bohjalian’s writing!


  2. sagustocox / Jul 8 2014 10:52 am

    This sounds excellent, but his books usually are fantastic


  3. diane / Jul 8 2014 9:02 pm

    I skipped your review as I am 75% down with the audio and enjoying it. Glad u loved it — very good story.


  4. Leeswammes / Jul 10 2014 11:01 am

    This sounds really good. Something for on my list!


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