Thursday, 12 October 2017

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch is what you might call a not-so-simple love story. The two main characters have problems, big problems, and while it is chance that throws them together, their apparently insurmountable difficulties make any chance of a relationship highly unlikely.

Jubilee Jenkins is a recluse due to her terrible health problem – she is allergic to human touch. After Donavan Kingsley kissed her for a bet at school and she nearly died of anaphylactic shock (and of shame), Jubilee refused to leave the house. When her mother marries and moves away, Jubilee becomes adept at managing her life - educating herself, buying groceries, managing the garden - all with the help of the Internet. The story picks up when Jubilee’s mother dies, and to make ends meet, Jubilee finds work at the library.

Eric is divorced when he takes on a temporary assignment in New York, bringing with him his ten-year-old adopted son, Aja. The boy has never quite managed to grieve for the parents who died two years before. Instead he practises telekinesis, which gets him into trouble time and time again. Meanwhile, Eric’s daughter Ellie refuses to speak to him, but somehow her school reading journal winds up among the boxes Eric takes away with him. To find out more about the daughter he misses Eric decides to read the books Ellie loves most. This takes him to the library, where he meets Jubilee.

Colleen Oakley has written a poignant and engrossing comedy/drama, with characters who are quirky and so heart-breakingly vulnerable, you can’t help but feel their pain and want the best for them. We follow their journey as Eric attempts to reconnect with his daughter and keep Aja safe, and Jubilee develops the courage she will need to explore the world outside, accepting help when she needs to. While they deal with big problems, the humorous tone of the writing and the offbeat turn of events create a light and engrossing read. I found Close Enough to Touch a warm-hearted novel, which is surprisingly hard to put down.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Close Enough to Touch

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