Saturday, May 3, 2014

Close Your Eyes, Hold Your Hands-Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Your Hands Chris Bohjalian Doubleday, Jul 8 2014, $25.95 ISBN: 9780385534833 Sixteen years old Emily Shepard attends high school in the Northern Kingdom sector of Vermont where her father manages the nuclear reactor and her mother works there too. When reactor 1 melts down and explodes, the area becomes a dead zone. Emily’s parents died in the accident so the industry, company and designer blame her dad who cannot defend himself when they accuse him of operating the system while intoxicated. People take out their rage on Emily as a surrogate for her dead detested “Power Couple” parents. Thus she becomes a walker living in tents and concealing her identity while prepared to flee to another makeshift town if she thinks someone knows who she is. In a tent city, Emily befriends tweener Cameron, who uses the disaster to escape from the abusive foster care system. When Cameron becomes ill, Emily takes him to the hospital, but flees as she knows their freedom is over. The displaced refugee returns to her home in the contamination zone prepared to die with Emily Dickinson’s poetry to comfort her. Having given birth in Camp Hill only a few miles from the Three Mile Island reactor on March 28 1979 this story resonates with me. Chris Bohjalian brilliantly captures the world fleetingly watches but with a macabre short attention span; those outside the fishbowl go on with their lives as if nothing happened while seeking a fresh voyeuristic event. Emily is a terrific protagonist as her world implodes when the reactor explodes, but struggles to survive since her lineage makes her public enemy number one. Character-driven by Emily and the displaced she meets during her travels, fans will appreciate this insightful disaster thriller. Harriet Klausner

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