Author Chris Bohjalian Explores World Of Homeless Teens And Nuclear Disaster

Jul 7, 2014

Author Chris Bohjalian has set his latest novel in Vermont.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands tells the story of Emily Shepard, a teenager whose parents may have been responsible for a nuclear meltdown in the Northeast Kingdom.

With the Kingdom now an off-limits radioactive zone, Shepard winds up orphaned and alone on the streets of Burlington.

The book delves into the world of homeless teens in the Queen City, where stealing, prostitution and drug use are the norm.

Bohjalian says the inspiration for the book came following a conversation with a therapist at Spectrum Youth Services in Burlington.

Bohjalian says his own 20-year-old daughter Grace helped him find the voice of a teenage girl. In fact, Grace ended up narrating the audio book.

Hovering over the novel is poet Emily Dickinson, a hero to the young and confused Shepard. Bohjalian says Dickinon's solitary life would have appeal to a lonely aspiring poet like his protagonist.