Thursday 28 February 2019

Close Enough to Touch - Colleen Oakley

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died...
And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a 28-year-old woman with a unique and debilitating medical condition - she's allergic to other humans. After a humiliating, near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become reclusive in her adulthood, living the past nine years in the confines of the Victorian house her unaffectionate mother deeded to her when she ran off with a wealthy 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 - 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 no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son who believes he has untapped telekinetic powers, 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...

What did I think?

With a main character named Jubilee Jenkins, this book is definitely as quirky as it sounds, whilst also being seriously thought-provoking.  Imagine having an allergy to other people's skin and going through life without being touched, hugged or kissed?  Welcome to Jubilee's lonely world.

Trapped in her own house for fear of anaphylactic shock through contact with human skin cells, Jubilee exists but doesn't live.  The death of Jubilee's mother sets of a chain of events that will change her life, just when she least expects it.  Just stepping out of the house and into her car is a big thing for Jubilee and I loved how she expected the car to start after so many years sitting idle.  It is a visit to the gas station that sets Jubilee off onto a different path when she runs into an old schoolfriend; with kids being as cruel as they are, 'friend' is perhaps not the right term for Madison but I have to give her some respect as she certainly makes up for the actions of her youth.

Jubilee manages to get a job at the local library where she meets Eric through his equally quirky adopted son, Aja.  It is no surprise that Jubilee and Aja hit it off, which is good news for Eric as he seems completely lost where Aja is concerned.  Eric's relationship with his daughter, Ellie, has all but broken down and as much as I felt for him, I really just wanted him to get a grip and make things happen.  I wanted to shake him and tell him that he's never going to make it up with Ellie when he has moved miles away and taken Aja with him; he needs to talk to her face to face and show her what she means to him.

With an allergy as severe as Jubilee's, she is of great interest to the medical world.  I loved how Colleen Oakley 'makes it real' by including excerpts from articles about Jubilee in The New York Times.  I loved watching Jubilee's story unfold as she learns not only to live with her condition but simply to live.

Close Enough to Touch is an absolutely fascinating and heartfelt story.  It has a powerful message to never give up and to always look for solutions to the seemingly impossible.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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