Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

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Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Jubilee Jenkins is allergic to other humans. She has never been in a relationship before: it could kill her. So what is she to do when she starts to fall in love with her friend Eric?
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
External links: [colleenoakley.com Author's website]
ISBN: 9781760294137

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One time, a boy kissed me and I almost died...My lips started tingling. My tongue swelled to fill my mouth. My throat closed; I couldn't breathe. Everything went black.

So begins the tale of an unlikely romantic heroine: a girl who is allergic to other human beings. After the extreme humiliation suffered in the aftermath of the events above, Jubilee Jenkins becomes a recluse and hides herself away from the world for nine years. When her source of income suddenly dries up, Jubilee needs to overcome her fears, step out into the world and find a job. Working at the local library, she meets divorced dad Eric and his quirky adopted son, Aja and strikes up a friendship with them. As their mutual attraction starts to grow, can there be any future for a relationship where even a simple kiss could be fatal?

I loved the premise of the book and the idea of a relationship where one party is allergic to the other. How would Eric and Jubilee make things work? We are introduced to a small cast of memorable characters who are thrown into an unusual situation. The characters themselves were cleverly written; flawed but likeable individuals designed to elicit an emotional response from the reader. Jubilee is a loveable protagonist; stubborn and vulnerable in equal measure. Eric, her love interest, is completely out of his depth and his life is a mess when he first meets Jubilee. Aja, his adopted son is a real scene-stealer, a child dealing with intense grief in his own way, as well as likely being on the autism spectrum. I felt as though this book was written especially for me: I too suffer from severe allergies, worked in a library and have a teenage daughter and autistic son, so I could definitely relate to many of the scenarios presented in the book, which were realistically written.

The story progressed and developed at a good pace and there were plenty of twists and turns in the relationship to sustain interest and keep me turning the pages. There were also a couple of interesting side-plots featuring secondary characters and I was intrigued to see how they would play out too.

Unfortunately the book held one big disappointment for me: the ending. Over the course of the story, I'd really come to care about the characters, so the final epilogue didn't feel as satisfying as it should have, and also felt rushed. A large part of this was due to the sudden and unexpected promotion of a minor character who catapulted to centre-stage for the final chapter. It felt unnatural and unnecessary and the characters didn't act how I expected them to. It is however, a testimony to the strength of storytelling throughout the rest of the book that I felt so strongly about the ending.

For a good insight into some of the issues experienced by Aja in the story, we recommend Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison, a fascinating autobiography about a boy with Asperger's syndrome.

Buy Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley at Amazon.com.


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