Friday, April 03, 2009

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
Copyright 2009
Grand Central Publishing - Fiction/Mafia
241 pages

I like the library summary inside the cover of this book: "A woman who has lost her identity to the Witness Protection Program flirts with trusting her life to the Mafioso hired to kill her."

That's a nice, capsule description. And, now you know I'm going to blow it away by jabbering about the book in lengthy detail, but where's the fun in stopping at less than 25 words, right?

Melody Grace McCartney is her real name. Now 26, Melody has been in the Witness Protection Program, or WITSEC, for 20 years. Her life changed, forever, the day her family witnessed the head of a mafia family committing murder. Talked into testifying against the well-known Mafioso, the family was placed under the protection of WITSEC. But, the Bovaros are serious about eliminating witnesses and they know how to find people.

Warning: There might be some slight spoilers in this next couple of paragraphs. I'm not sure, but I'm a really nice person and I'd hate to ruin your reading experience.

Now teaching math and bored with her life as Sandra Clarke, Melody packs a plastic bag to look like she's in a hurry and calls up the marshals to say she's been located and threatened. Melody wants to change her life.

What she doesn't know is that Jonathan Bovaro has followed her through several alterations of her identity and it's his job to silence her, forever. Now, it's time for Jonathan to make his presence known. If his plan works, Melody may be able to live a normal life. If not, she's a goner.

Did you skip the possible spoilers or take the risk? Just curious.

I absolutely loved this book and had a terrible time putting it down. I loved the suspense, the writing is beautiful -- honestly, just pitch-perfect -- and it's intelligently written. Not to mention the fact that the dialogue is strong, the characters are well-developed, and the storyline unique. I loved the way the author delved into Melody's emotions, the way she considered math and its absolutes a comfort. The pages just flew; the author keeps you guessing right till the end. And, I did think the end was extraordinarily satisfying. You honestly never know whether Melody is going to live or die until you get there; it's a very surprising read.

One of my reading buddies disliked the fact that the flirtation between Melody and Jonathon was totally implausible. That didn't bother me, probably because you really couldn't tell for sure whether Jonathan was being honest. Was he really the "good son" in a very bad family? Was he charmed by her and completely incapable of harming her? All the way through, you knew this guy had the ability to shove her into a river in concrete galoshes or turn her over to the family. And, I won't tell you whether or not he did. I will tell you I think The Girl She Used to Be is a rocking fine story, the kind that makes you shirk the housework, ignore the kids, forget to cook dinner. I cannot wait to see what this first-time novelist comes up with next.

Just finished: The King with Horse's Ears and other Irish Folk Tales by Batt Burns

Just started: How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am by Charles Grodin

Just got in the mail, thanks to the recommendation of a photography blog buddy: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

Yesterday, I got some unexpected book love from Algonquin Books: Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy

Am I having fun, here, or what? But, I'm kind of swamped with laundry, so I'd better go. Happy Weekend!

Bookfool, surrounded by little mountains of laundry


  1. I'm swamped with unread books :/ They're literally lying all around me...but I guess that's a better thing than being swamped with laundry, eh? I swear...the house we're building is coming along nicely and all I can focus on is where I'm going to put my bookshelves :p I really don't care about anything else, lol.

    Oh yeah, this was a book review, right? this one sounds really good! I keep hearing about it in all of the bookish newsletters I get and have been hoping to score an ARC, but not it actually out yet? If so, I'll have to just go get it. And I skipped the spoilers!

  2. It sounds like an amazing book and I read the spoilers. Personally, I didn't see anything that spoil-y about it but it's better to warn then not.

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  3. I don't know about the book as something I would read, but I REALLY like the cover to this book...

    And, lol at your personal message! I have seen a lot of people are having spammer problems lately...

  4. Chris,

    I'm swamped with books, too. The laundry . . . I could do without that. I do like those books, but I need to work on getting rid of more. I've actually taken to putting books in a recycled-plastic bag and just filling it to the brim with books I've finished. Then, I try to figure out what to do with them when it's full.

    I think the official release date is April 9, but you can already get a copy via Amazon. I noticed that when I went to fetch a cover image. I snagged my copy from Hatchette. I lurv the Hatchette publicists. :)


    I think you'd probably enjoy this one because of the suspense. Thanks for sharing that you peeked! And, I'm glad it's not too spoilery, but yeah ... I don't want to ruin the experience for anyone. I often skip reviews if I'm anywhere close to reading a book and usually I don't even read the cover blurb when I open it (although I read about them well in advance, this is one area in which it's good to be forgetful) because I want to be surprised.

    Thank you! I hope you're having a great weekend!!


    I like the cover, too, and it fit the theme about wanting to go somewhere but not quite knowing who you are and whether or not you'll ever be able to come remotely close to escaping and taking control over your life.

    Yeah, those spammers have been really intense, lately. I noticed that, too. I think we can expect a lot more word verification, again. Too bad. It was nice not having to type letters on quite so many blogs.

  5. I've read a couple of other reviews of this one and it sure sounds good.

  6. Anonymous5:34 AM

    I just added this one to my wish list. Sounds like a great book. I have this "thing" for books about the mafia, being married to an Italian who would have loved to be in the mafia if only it didn't involve killing and other illegal activities.

  7. I didn't read your review because I'm in the middle of the book right now, so I'll be back. :) So far - I'm really liking it. It's not what I expected, but I'm really liking it.

  8. Just finished and posted my thoughts. I thought it was a very good read - one that surprised me. He's someone to watch.

    "The pages just flew; the author keeps you guessing right till the end. And, I did think the end was extraordinarily satisfying." I agree, 100%! :)

  9. Adding this one to the wishlist right away! I don't think the spoilers were too spoilery, by the way, and they just piqued my attention more. Anyhow, thanks for the review. And your new "Leave Your Comment" statement cracks me up. I have been having issues with spammers lately but I hate the word verification thingy. Bleh.

  10. Wasn't this book hard to put down? I carried it around and read while I was walking.

  11. Wendy,

    It's excellent. I have a feeling you'd love it.


    I can't think of a single other book I've read about the Mafia. What an interesting comment about your husband. What about the Mafia appeals to him?


    You can see I've had a busy (okay, sleepy -- I took a long nap with the cat) day, since I published both your notes and am just now getting around to responding. I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did!! I agree that he's someone to watch. I honestly cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. But, I suppose I'll have to.


    Thank you! I'm often unsure whether my spoilers really are spoilers or not, so I appreciate your thoughts. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. And, yeah, the spammers . . . ugh. They've been really plastering the blog world, lately. I hate word verification, too. I did away with mine for nearly a year and it was nice knowing I wasn't making people type in all those letters. I'd really like to give a spammer or two a good swift kick.


    Absolutely. I don't have good enough balance to read and walk! LOL But, I couldn't put the book down. It's a real page-turner.

  12. I skimmed your review as I have a copy of this one myself. I haven't had a chance to read it though but it is calling my name!

  13. Samantha,

    I do that, too. I basically said it's gripping, so you didn't miss much. ;)

  14. Hi! I really, really like your blog, so I'm giving you this award:

  15. You and Joy have convinced me to get this ASAP. I think it sounds like a good one to recommend to my book club.

    Oh, and I skipped the spoilers. :)

    BTW, those spammers are really quite annoying these days. I have word verification set up again and delete at least 2 weird character comments every day. Sigh.

    I've heard great things about The Raw Shark Texts and keep meaning to snag a copy for Rod.

    Lucky, lucky, lucky you!!! I've wanted to get a copy of Every Last Cuckoo ever since it came out in hardcover. Can't wait to hear what you think. I love that cover.

  16. I have not read this yet but want to. I haven't read of anyone who hasn't liked this book and given it a good review.

  17. Fantaghiro,

    Thank you! I must warn you that I tend to completely forget about awards and this next couple of weeks I may be away from the computer a lot, so chances are good I won't post about it, but I appreciate you thinking of me!!


    I hope you love it. I thought The Girl She Used to Be was totally gripping and well-written.

    I'd have skipped the spoilers to be safe, too, since you're planning to read it. But, I'm told my spoilers aren't very spoilery, which is always good to know.

    That's what I was getting -- at least 2 or 3 weird-character spams per day. I noticed that a few went through at Bookarama and they contained links, so the point is apparently to get people to click on the links out of curiosity. Crazy.

    I'd never heard of The Raw Shark Texts, but Grouser told me about the book and said it was a must-read, so I put it on my wish list at PaperbackSwap. It took about 6 weeks to get a copy and I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Every Last Cuckoo does look like your kind of book! I hadn't heard of it, but I reviewed A Reliable Wife for Algonquin Books and I think they sent everyone who reviewed that book ELC. It was a really nice surprise!!


    The only complaint I've heard is that the romantic aspect is far-fetched. To me, that gives it more of a sense of intrigue because you really don't know whether the bad guy is luring Melody to her doom or whether she'll suddenly bolt (because she's always changing her mind) or the feds will swoop in and grab her. There's always so much happening suddenly in the book. I thought the author did an amazing job of dangling enough maybes to keep you guessing till the end. I think you'll love it. :)

  18. I skipped the spoiler :)

    But this one is going on my list. I've been reading such good reviews for it and it sounds like a lot of fun.

  19. Iliana,

    I think you'll love it. It has just the right little touch of mystery and great characters.

  20. I thought this was a fun read as well. Great review!

  21. The reviews of this one, well, I've seen good and not so good. Should I read it or not? You've certainly tempted me with this review!

  22. Tara,

    It requires a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but I think it's a good read. It's suspenseful, the characters and great and the writing is solid. I'd rank it in my top 10, if not top 5 for the year, so far. It was definitely the right read for me, anyway. I'd say give it a try. :)


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