The Girl She Used To Be – Book Review

girlsheusedtobe My interest – okay, obsession – with math is genuine, and has been since the first time I was ripped away from the life I loved. I buried myself in numbers and word problems where an answer was certain (or at least in the back of the book) and I knew I’d found something I could count on. – from The Girl She Used To Be, page 5 –

Melody Grace McCartney has been in the Witness Protection Program since the age of six, along with her parents who have since been murdered by the mob they testified against. Moved by the federal government dozens of times to small towns across America, Melody wishes for only one thing: to have a normal life and her own name. So when one night she meets Jonathon Bovaro, the son of the man who was responsible for killing her parents, she is especially vulnerable to his charms…and his promise to protect her.

And for some reason I feel free, that I have been in touch with both sides, with the light and the dark of my existence, and that I have somehow managed to find peace. Whether there is validity to this notion is irrelevant; right now, it feels valid. I’m not going to destroy it by overanalyzing. – from The Girl She Used To Be, page 48 –

David Cristofano’s debut novel is a fast-paced, compelling look at identity, and our ability to trust and love after tragedy. The Girl She Used To Be is a well-constructed novel with a complex protagonist. Melody’s journey from child victim to rebellious adolescent to independent young adult is painful. The core of the story revolves around the question of how we form our identities, and how early experiences impact our development.

I have to admit that I was not sure how I would like this novel. At times, the story felt a bit contrived – but ultimately I found myself unable to stop turning the pages. I wanted to know how Melody’s life would turn out; I wished for something better for her; I ached for those things missing in her life – a family, a person who loved her for her, a normal life. Melody is not always likable – at times she is whiny and petulant – but as the story unfolds, her behavior becomes understandable.

Cristofano has crafted an unusual novel – one of imagination and depth – which kept me interested from start to finish. Readers who like their literary fiction with a touch of mystery will greatly enjoy The Girl She Used To Be. I will look forward to reading more from this talented new author.



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  1. I was also unsure about this one before I picked it up but I found that I was pleasantly suprised. While I didn’t find it altogether realistic, I did enjoy the book and would read more by this author. Great review!

    • Kathy on October 25, 2009 at 15:31

    I really enjoyed this one too. Granted, it’s not great literature, but it sure grabs your attention!

  2. What an interesting premise! Thanks for your review. I’ll have to check this one out.

    • Heather on October 25, 2009 at 19:21

    You definitely enjoyed this one more than I did, Wendy. I liked the book on the surface, but I found so many aspects of the story that I just could not believe. I think I talked myself out of believing in the book, so I just got too cynical about it! Still an enjoyable read, though.

    • Typ0 on October 26, 2009 at 00:20

    I like the premise of this one. Definitely adding it to my wish list. Thanks! 🙂

    • Jenners on October 29, 2009 at 16:16

    I’ve had this on my Paperback Swap wish list for awhile now … thank you for reminding me why I put it on there in the first place!

    • Wendy on October 31, 2009 at 08:05

    Samantha: *nods* it was a little unrealistic in places…but it was so well-paced that I found myself able to just go with it. Glad you also enjoyed the book.

    Kathy: I agree! Sometimes I am just in the mood for a book like this…I will read more by this author.

    Bookshelf Monstrosity: It was a fun book – hope you’ll like it.

    Heather: I think this is a book you should not overthink…I agree it took a bit of a stretch of the imagination to believe in all the aspects…but I liked the pacing and found I was able to stop intellectualizing it and just enjoy the ride. Sorry it didn’t work too well for you!

    Typ0: you’re welcome!

    Jenners: Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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