Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review/s: The Girl She Used To Be & The Exceptions, David Cristofano

This is a combination book review for THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE (2009) and THE EXCEPTIONS (2012). I've never done one of these duo reviews before, and honestly, probably won't again, but because these books go hand in hand, I feel it's necessary. These two books are not a series, mind you, but more like carbon-copy reflections of each other.

The Girl She Used to Be:
At age six, Melody Grace McCartney witnessed a violent crime, and after her parents testified against an infamous mafia family, they were sent into Witness Protection. Now twenty-six, and all alone in this world, Melody is sick of being invisible, sick of having no emotional attachment to another soul. She's been countless other names and identities, but the person she longs to be is Melody again. When a stranger shows up one night, calling her by her real name and offering a way out, she takes it. Except this man just happens to be one of the members of the crime family her parents risked everything to put away.
I'm not typically a big fan of first-person, but there's no other way to do a book like this and have the same punch. I also have to give the author a lot of credit as a man writing in the female psyche. This story takes you so much deeper than a high-action mystery with other Witness Protection books. This puts you right in that person's shoes, feeling every lonely night, every fear of recognition, and the desperate existence left after doing the right thing. This story takes you to tears, laughter, numbing hopelessness, and daring for happiness in the course of 241 pages. Mostly literature with romantic elements, this is an emotional must read.

The Exceptions:
Jonathon Bovaro grew up the black sheep in a powerful mafia family. The things he's witnessed and lived through can't be measured by average people. But the one thing that haunts him is a six year old little girl whose life he ruined twenty years before. He's spent his life trying to protect Melody in one way or another. But now his family has ordered him to take her out, and he can't do it. So acting as her shield and hinting at a dangerous plan, he finally reveals himself to the woman he's watched from a distance to give her the ultimate gift: Her life back.
Similar to the first book, (instead of Melody's back story, insert Jonathon's), we hear the story all over again, but from Jonathon's perspective. And this time, we get the ending. I thought I'd find myself bored reading about events I already knew about, but I was wrong. Hearing it from Jonathon's side, and the tidbits unknown, was beyond satisfying. And again, there's closure and conclusion in this installment. It's very rare for me to say this, as I've reviewed hundreds of fabulous books in my time, but this book moved me. Dare I say changed me. Heartbreaking, mind-boggling, frustrating, and charismatically honest, I could not put this down to save my life. We get gory insight to organized crime, witness protection, and the justice system. As in the first book, this is literature with romantic elements, and a book not to be missed.

Both of these stories are stand alone reads, but I highly suggest reading The Girl She Used to Be first, then The Exceptions. If you must read only one, it should be The Exceptions because you get the whole story, ending and all. Again, read both! There are not enough positive adjectives to throw at these books to give them justice.


Lisa said...

wow! These books sound really good. I like the idea of each one telling a different side of the same story. Great review. They will be going on my TBR list.

Kelly Moran said...

highly recommend.