The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano, 241 pages
Melody Grace McCartney has been in the witness protection program since she was six. She has no idea what it would be like to go to college, fall in love, have a baby, live normally. The only thing she can "control" is crying wolf in order to change her surroundings. But this time is different when Jonathan Bovaro, from the mafia family she is hiding from, finds her and has unexpected plans.
Tight and sharp, the pace is quick and almost fools the reader, appearing as a lighter story. The themes of identity and self-awareness are definitely lurking here as it alternately thrills, saddens, and triumphs. It would be easy to write Melody off as a whiny victim - she behaves foolishly at times, but is written sympathetically. I was moved to tears as I felt her pain and loss. She is truly stunted in some ways and who could blame her?
And David, I forgive your slight on good ole Columbia (aka where I live) - because you are right it is the epitome of suburbia. I must admit it is great fun to read about places I recognize - with the Baltimore and East Coast setting. Regardless of your location this is a great first novel and an author to watch.
I recommend it without reservation -one of my favorites of 2009.
AVAILABLE NOW - Many thanks to Tanisha at Grand Central Publishing HBG.