Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl She Used to Be

By Sandy Amazeen Feb 13, 2009, 6:28 GMT

Book Review: The Girl She Used to Be

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody\'s name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She\'s been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and ...more

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she pestered her parents into going to a particular restaurant where the proprietor treated her like a little princess. They walked in on an evisceration in progress, after which, they testified against Bovaro, a member of the Mafioso family, leading to their placement in the Federal Witness Protection Program or WITSEC. Life for the McCartney family, especially Melody was never the same as they dealt with the pressures of living with assumed identities.

Now in her twenties and having lived several assumed identities, a bored Melody makes the call that will transform her life yet again. Riddled with guilt over her parents’ death and wallowing in a sea of self-pity, Melody’s life is terrifyingly transformed when Jonathan Bovaro appears in her motel room despite a Federal agent sleeping next door. In the midst of an identity crisis, Melody hears some “truths” from Jonathan that have her questioning the security and motives of the WITSEC. As the Feds and Jonathan vie for Melody, she must decide who is telling the truth, who can protect her and who to trust, but how does one decide who is trustworthy when their entire life has been a fabrication.

Cristofano’s debut novel does an excellent job of creating a shallow, self-centered young woman who is more interested in blaming the WITSEC for the ruin that is her life then stepping up and dealing with it. Readers will cheer when Jonathan finally gets fed up with Melody’s sniveling about having no life, but disappointingly, it does no good. It is Jonathan who steals the show with an act of sacrifice that gives Melody the opportunity to make a clean break with the past and begin life anew. This is an unusual love story with well developed, if annoying main characters.

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