An interesting premise and condition in today’s title from Colleen Oakley – what if touching another person could kill you? And then, how do you learn to deal with that when you lose your ability to remain safely within your space, when your sole support is gone? Please read on for my review of
Close Enough to Touch
Jubilee Jenkins has always been different: quiet and reserved, her worst fear is human touch, for she could have an allergic reaction so severe as to cause death. And, just before her high school graduation, she did almost die from her first kiss. So, it’s not as if her fears are unfounded. But, for the intervening 9 years, she retreated to live only within the walls of her home, supported by her mother and having little to no interactions with the outside world. When her mother remarries and leaves the house, there is little change for Jubilee, except for the loneliness: as her mother continued to support her financially. And then, one telephone call changed her life. Her stepfather informs her that her mother is dead, and the financial assistance will stop. Immediately.
Thus Jubilee is thrust into the outside world, anxious and afraid, to find a job and reframe her life in a new way. Finding a position at the library – books are safe and familiar friends, Jubilee is just getting accustomed to her new way of existing when she meets Eric and his newly adopted son Aja. A tentative friendship begins as these two start to bond together in spite of their own reservations and insecurities, as they are both still grieving their losses.
Oakley does much very well in this story: the anxieties and overwhelming emotions felt by both Eric and Jubilee are clear, and the missteps are easy to understand and comprehend. The determination of Jubilee to make a place in the world for herself, even if she requires a bit more personal space than many, is intriguing: she’s still afraid of many things but moves forward despite that anxiety, never letting a mistaken approach or path delay her for long. For Eric, his grief in the death of his friend, while trying to help Aja through that process was truly gorgeous. He’s clueless and hurting, but wants only to make those around him happier, even if only for a moment. While I found the relationship between Jubilee and Eric was perhaps unneeded, and that friends was a perfect step, the changes and growth that both experienced through their friendship brought them both growth and a new outlook on their lives. An unexpected but wholly fitting ending wraps up the story nicely, leaving readers with plenty to think about long after the last page is read.
Title: Close Enough to Touch
Author: Colleen Oakley
Genre: Family Saga, Literary Fiction, Romantic Elements
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 7 March 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 38 minutes
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From the author of Before I Go comes an unconventional love story perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.
One time a boy kissed me and I almost died...
And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.
One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition...
Close Enough to Touch is an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: