The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano is the bittersweet tale of the twenty-six-year-old former Melody Grace McCartney, a name she has been unable to use since the age of six, when Melody and her parents entered the Witness Protection Program. Just a random, regular family trying to eat breakfast at Melody's favorite restaurant, they witnessed a murder by Mafia member Tony Bovaro. The losses just kept coming because, in addition to numerous moves and identity changes, teenager Melody, angry at her parents, gave an interview to a reporter. Her parents lived exactly 29 hours after the article was published.
At the start of the book, though, Melody is living on her own and working as a math teacher. Feeling a certain sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness, she falsely claims that she has received a phone call from someone who used her real name. Time for another move.
Ironically, Jonathan Bovaro, Tony's son, does know exactly where Melody is, and he's ready to enter her life. He's handsome and charming in a violent, dangerous, forbidden kind of way. He offers Melody the chance to become herself again, something the Witness Protection Program is never going to be able to do. Can she trust him, and how can he deliver on that promise, even if his intentions are honorable?
This is a novel about responsibility, blame, character, and freedom, and not just on an individual basis. Would Megan's parents have told about what they saw if they had known how their lives would change forever? How does Megan cope with the fact that her teenage tantrum allows the Bovaro family to find her parents? What does the government owe Megan? And how does someone from a background like Jonathan's become the hero of Megan's dreams?
This was Cristofano's debut novel, and I hope he has something else published soon.
And a thank you to Cindy for writing a review that caused me to buy this book. http://cindysloveofbooks.blogspot.com/2009/05/girl-she-use-to-be-review.html
My overall personal rating of The Girl She Used to Be is a B+.