"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

12 November 2014

2014 Book Review #39: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

I stayed up late last night to finish this amazing novel.

It deals with teenage homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness/depression.  It's very powerful.

In fact, I'm still pondering many of the things I read even though I know it's fiction.  It's a little too real, I think for many of our teens today.


The Shepherds live near Burlington, Vermont.  They are originally from down near NYC. Emily is a teen who only has 2 more days of school before summer vacation.  Her father is in charge of the local nuclear power plant in the area of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom. Her mom is in charge of communications there at the plant. 

On the next to last day of school, the power plant has a nuclear meltdown and 19 people are killed including Emily's parents.  Allegations begin to circulate that Emily's dad was drunk when this horrible accident happened.

Thousands of people are now fleeing the Northeast Kingdom.  The rivers and forests are destroyed. Everyone has to get out of this corner of Vermont.  Instead of following the social workers, teachers, and fellow classmates, Emily  takes off on her own to Burlington.

  She survives by stealing, selling her body, and sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment.  And she invents a new identity that is based on her favorite author, Emily Dickinson.

She befriends many homeless and drug-addicted teens....and she also begins to cut.

She then meets a little boy of nine years, named Cameron.  She learns that he has run away from an abusive foster home and takes him under her wing.  One night he gets a raging fever and she brings him to the hospital.  All of a sudden, the state department of children and family services is called and she must flee.

She escapes.....she tries to outrun her past, her guilt, her grief.

And then the unthinkable happens.........


I loved this book from the moment I opened it.

It is a gripping story that can scare you, can make you cry, can make you laugh and can break your heart.

Nuclear power plants are real. Accidents at nuclear power plants are real and have happened.

Teen homelessness is real.  Teens cutting themselves is real.  Teens becoming addicted to drugs is real.

This book deals with abandonment, nuclear reactors, environmental issues, homelessness, prostitution, drug addiction, mental illness, self-mutilation/cutting, grief, loss, love, friendship, forgiveness, and the power to survive.

The author did use a lot of "gutter talk" language but it made the story that much more real.  Let's face it, many teens have terrible mouths......as do many adults!  I told my self to look past the swearing but at times it was hard when faced with that "f" word. But I do understand why the author used it so much.

The other thing the author did was totally surprise me by the title.  I thought it was going to be a book about teen suicide and I thought Emily was going to tell Cameron to hold her hand and close her eyes and they were going to jump off the bridge into Lake Champlain to kill themselves. Boy was I wrong!!

I won't spoil it though for you......the meaning is powerful.

Read this book!!

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Dianna said...

Sounds like quite a book, Faith. Thank you for the amazing review.

Melanie Cook said...

This certainly sounds like a powerful book! Thanks for the review. Right now I'm having to read lighter things but I'm keeping this book title to one side. Have a great day.

Simply Linda said...

Sounds like a good book..I have issues with people using the F word...it seems to be norm up here.

BTW, We lived in Hudson hmm...20 + yrs ago...we now reside in Hornell and I attend Alfred State College. Nice to meet you too!!!

Susanne said...

Wow, sounds very interesting but I must admit I would struggle reading through to the end something with lots of bad language.

Melanie Lopata said...

Wow this sounds really great!! I just took two Lisa Scottoline (sp) books from the library so I'll check this one out when finished.