Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Girl She Used to Be - David Cristofano

Summary:  When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed a brutal act of violence--and then were lured into the Witness Protection Program.  And so Melody lost her identity, her home, her family, and ultimately her innocence.   She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, and countless others.  But the one person she has always longed to be is Melody Grace McCartney.

Now, twenty years later and still on the run, she's stunned when a man calls her by her real name.  Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to find her, knows her, the real her.  It's a thrill Melody can't resist and she goes with him willingly, defying the feds.  To the Justic Department, she's just a pawn in their war agains the Bovaro family.  But as dangerous as Jonathan is, he gives Melody the opportunity of a lifetime:  the chance to embrace her past and present and choose a future all her own.  (Summary from book - Image from

My Review:   The more I think about it, the more I hate this book. The Girl She Used to Be started out surprisingly well.  I was intrigued by the developing story, amazed that a male author could write a female character so well, and I loved Melody's sarcastic demeanor and emotional intensity -- up until about page 50 when she turned into a complete moron. 

Okay, so maybe I didn't read the back as closely as I should have, but what the heck?!?  While I do believe that someone in Witness Protection would be miserable and have a difficult time investing in relationships or keeping their cover, especially as a child, anyone actually approached by a mafia hit-man would run screaming in the other direction.  They would NOT jump into a car with a complete stranger, (SPOILER) fall in love, and agree to meet and attempt to gain acceptance in the family that killed her parents.  Ever.  (END OF SPOILER)

Even if we could suspend reality for just a moment, and pretend that the world (and the mafia) work this way, this story is an epically bad movie waiting to happen -- complete with absurd characters, a Pretty Woman-esqe makeover, several overly dramatic "rescues", some of the most syrupy dialogue I have ever had the misfortune to read, and an ending that completely fell apart.  That kind of stuff generally means it belongs in the romance department with a pretty pink cover (with Fabio the Mafioso on it) not sitting smack in the middle of the adult fiction section smugly pretending it belongs there. 

Sidenote:  This book has been given 4 and 5 star reviews by feel free to read it despite my review.  It's your hair.  You can pull it out if you want to.

My Rating:  1.5 Stars.  (The .5 is for the beginning, which wasn't near as bad as the end) 

For the sensitive reader:  The author makes a point of not cursing (a la "what the fu--fudge") but there are several nearly sexual situations and some discussion of sexual matters.

Sum it up: Lame.


Unknown said...

I read this book and liked it well enough but I think it's great that you reviewed the book as you saw it. No worries how others felt about it...and no sane person will hate you for your opinion. I just read and reviewed the book, "One Day" by David Nicholls and I did not like that book at all so that's how I reviewed it. We cannot all like every book we read!

Your review has definitely given me a few things to think about too. I think this story was realistic in some parts and complete fantasy in other parts. It certainly was a wierd story!

~ Amy

Norell Leung said...

I respectfully disagree that this book was bad because it was unrealistic. I think the author does a wonderful job of painting the main character as literally, so lost and depressed and bored and hopeless and therefore reckless with her life (it is the same recklessness that makes people cut themselves and kill themselves... very real stuff) that she WOULD get into the car with a mafia mobster.

I think we are approaching a time in literature where the main characters are supposed to be deeply flawed to the point where they are not likeable. I also found how desperate she was for physical/sexual attention consistently in the beginning not necessarily likeable about her but tragically believable given the length of time she has spent in isolation and the extent of her feelings of victimhood and self pity. Likeable no, but real, yes... I see it every day in real life.

Thanks for sharing your review of the book. I do agree that it was syrupy at times, but still the subject matter, the situation, and also the themes of deep love and sacrifice did make for good reading and also inspires the question, how far would you go for someone?

I didn't necessarily find the whole spa treatment thing ridiculous. If you knew you had possibly just one more day to live and indulge, what would you do? Given the spa thing is at such close reach at any hotel/resort, I don't think it's far fetched from what a man would plan for a woman in a final moment situation.

Thanks for your review on the book.


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