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Monday, March 6, 2017

(21)Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

It has been nine years since Jubilee Jenkins kissed a boy and almost died.  It has been nine years since Jubilee's mother left her behind to marry her boyfriend.  It has been nine years since Jubilee Jenkins left her house.  Her mother just passed away and her stepfather has told her that the monthly checks will stop, forcing Jubilee to leave her house to find a job.  She is buying gas for the car that hasn't moved in nine years when Jubilee runs into a girl from high school. In fact, it was Madison's boyfriend that Jubilee kissed when she went into anaphylactic shock.  You see Jubilee has a rare allergy where she is allergic to the touch of another human. A kiss could kill her.  With Madison's help, Jubilee gets a job at the local library.  She is on her way home from work when she sees a young boy drowning and risks her own life to save his by performing CPR.  And that is how Jubilee meets Aja and his father, Eric.   For the first time in a very long time, Jubilee feels welcomed and enjoys the company of another human. For the first time, she truly regrets her allergy.   Eric has his own issues to deal with - a teen daughter who won't speak to him, an adopted son who believes he has x-men like superpowers, and now is falling for a woman he can never have.   Will Eric and Jubilee ever find happiness?

Jubilee Jenkins is the kind of heroine that I could call my friend.  She is an avid reader and is comfortable with her self-imposed solitude. I found my heart aching for a few times - like when she explained why she didn't care for Christmas. And then I found myself despising her mother, I mean,  who just leaves their kid like that, especially a child with a life-threatening condition?  Ugh.  I liked Eric, too.  He had his flaws, but the steps he was taking to rectify his mistakes made it hard not to like him.  The two of them have one thing in common - an intense need to connect.  I think we all have been able to relate to that desire at one time or another.   The author leads us down a path thinking that things were going to turn out one way, but then takes a sharp turn in the other direction and I found myself cheering.  It was exciting and the perfect way to end the book.

Bottom line - While the premise of Close Enough to Touch may not seem plausible, Colleen Oakley makes it work in a way that touches your heart.  You find yourself connecting to these characters in a way that is rare to find in a book these days.   You will find it unforgettable.