Saturday, July 10, 2010

BOOKS: The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano

Mark down Dave Cristofano as a writer to watch, if his debut novel is indicative of his ability. The Girl She Used to Be is simply brilliant.

Melody's been in the Witness Protection program for pushing 20 years. As a kid, she and her father witnessed a murder committed by noted mob boss Tony Bovaro. Melody feels responsible for being IN the program for a variety of reasons that made sense to her as a very little girl. And she's responsible for her parents' death when, as a petulant teenager breaking of the WitSec rules, she led the mobsters hunting for them directly to her parents' doorstep.

She's a little bit dead inside, running out a clock that has 50 more years to go, when she decides she's bored and arranges to be moved once again. She's moved frequently over the years, sometimes over real concerns, too often because she's just bored with the new fake life that's been created for her. This move might be her last. The program is getting fed up with her. And far from having maternal feelings, the government is beginning to think of her as a never-ending hole to pour money into. They want her set up and staying somewhere so she can get off the public dole.

But this last change doesn't go as planned. It's interfered with by Bovaro's son Jonathon. He's the white sheep of the family, although very much part of the family. He's lived with the 'spectre' of Melody all of his life, having been playing upstairs at the moment that changed both his family and Melody's family forever. The mob has been aware of her location for years. He's fallen in love from afar. And he snatches her out of the clutches of the government. Twice. Eventually, nature takes it's course and they become as one.

Bizarrely, the plan then becomes having Jonathon taking her home to meet the folks, including pappa Tony. In the movies, this would end with Melody married to the mob, literally, and raising the next generation of bambinos to follow in their grand-dad's footsteps. Cristafano goes in another direction. Not sure it's a happy-ever-after, but it's closer to that than the poor excuse for an existence Melody was leading before Jonathon entered her life.

Most intruging. And I'm really looking forward to Cristofano's next book. Even if it isn't a mystery, sports or science fiction novel.

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