The Girl She Used To Be

Title: The Girl She Used to Be
Author: David Cristofano
Pub: 2009; Grand Central Pub
Pages: 256
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary

The Girl She Used to Be is one of those books that end up on my shelves and I'm not quite sure how (I of course blame other bloggers).  I grabbed it randomly when I put together a stack of books I'd like to get through this summer.  Admittedly, the premise is not a book that I normally would have gone for.

Our main gal, Melody, has been in the witness protection program since she was six years old.  Her folks stumbled upon a mafia killing and that was that.  Since that moment, Melody's life has been tumultuous to put it lightly.  She has been shifted and moved around and given multiple personae since that fateful morning.  After all, convincing a six year old that she is no longer 'Melody' is difficult to do, and once you're in the program, if you're identity is revealed, it's time to create a new one.

When we first meet Melody, she is in her young adulthood and bored with her mundane life.  Her parents were murdered by the mafia family, so she has little faith in the program.  Plus, because she feels that the program took away her life, she acts fairly whimsical and calls upon them to create a new identity when she can't handle the normalcy of her current lie.

Melody is a tragic character.  Immediately we understand her despair.  Unable to begin any long term relationships for fear of causing turmoil in another life because of her fate, she is constantly an observer of the lives and families surrounding her.  What heartfelt scene is when she is hanging out in the local Hallmark following the patrons and their card choices just to get an idea of what it would be like to have those connections.

Melody no longer has her regular Program official, and instead, gets a newer younger version.  They quickly form an odd relationship as he escorts her to the place of her new identity.  Then, one night in the secluded hotel room a man breaks in and calls Melody by her real name.  She soon discovers that Jonathan is the son of the Mafia father-figure that is perusing her.  He wants her to come with him and confront his family. 

Melody is tired of running and agrees to go with Jonathan.  They end up building this amazing relationship on these horrible circumstances and the days leading up to meeting the mafia family are romantic and cleverly mushy.

As I was saying, what an odd story.  But man did I love it.  I read this book in one day, and only a couple of sittings.  (I had to do life-in-the-way sorta things).  Of course, the whole time I realized how far-fetched the story was.  Surely something like this wouldn't happen in real life.  But even though it was unrealistic, it was written so well that I bought it nonetheless.

I love how the theme of identity was questioned.  Melody spent her whole life not having an identity, not ever really know who she was and Jonathan spent his life living an identity created by his family and not the one that he desired.  Obviously that's the bond that brought them together.  It was impossible not to root for their love, even though the whole time you suspect it will end badly.


  1. I read this book some time ago because I'm really into books about the mafia and find the witness protection program intriguing. It is an interesting story and the issue of identity really makes you think. As a romance or suspense novel I guess it's pretty good, but compared to some better mafia novels like The Godfather, it falls very short. I guess it's not supposed to be about the mafia though, which is why I was disappointed by it. But I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    1. Can you believe I've NEVER read or watched The Godfather?! I know it seems criminal almost.

      I don't know how into I would be about the inner workings of mafia life. I'm not gangsta enough. ;-)

  2. Whattya mean, "you suspect it will end badly?!?" I'd be wanting the happy ending. Books like this need happy endings. I need something to counteract all the shit that's about to go down in the damn clown book.

    1. Maybe the clown accepts jesus christ as its personal savior and changes his whole attitude by the end of It?


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