I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Close Enough To Touch Published by Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster on March 7, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Family, Friendship, New Experience, Romance
Source: TLC Book Tours
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From the author of Before I Go comes an unconventional love story perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.
One time a boy kissed me and I almost died...
And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.
One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition...
Close Enough to Touch is an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.
I have a lot of allergies. Perfumes, lotions, all sorts of fragrances can make my throat swell up and leave me itchy and rashy–even when I’m not the one wearing the fragrance. I’m also allergic to dust mites, all sorts of plants, and several medications, so it’s all sorts of fun trying to narrow down what I’ve been exposed to when an allergic reaction hits. But my allergies are nothing compared to Jubilee Jenkins in Close Enough To Touch, Colleen Oakley’s second novel. Jubilee can’t come into contact with another person’s skins cells without breaking out into hives or suffering anaphylactic shock., and she’s been that way all her life.
Jubilee’s life has never been normal, from when she was finally diagnosed as being allergic to other people as a young child, to being raised by a single mother who seemed to pull away from Jubilee as she grew older and moved more towards her boyfriends that she could touch, to her near fatal first kiss at age 18. After that brush with death, Jubilee became a recluse and didn’t return to school for the few remaining weeks of her senior year, and she didn’t leave her house for the next nine years–not when her mother moved to another city to live with a new boyfriend and get married, not even to shop for food. But when her mother unexpectedly passes away, the money that was coming monthly to support Jubilee dries up, and she doesn’t have a way to pay the bills anymore. She now has to venture out into the real world, and find a way to make a living with no real experience while trying to never make physical contact with anyone.
Jubilee finally goes outside of her house and meets an old acquaintance from high school. Madison is able to get Jubilee a job as a librarian, and through this job Jubilee meets Eric Keegan–a newly divorced father who has an adopted 10-year-old son who’s brilliant, imaginative, but a bit troubled. While Jubilee adjusts to being in the outside world, Eric slowly works his way into her life along with his son Aja through their love of books. While Aja never questions Jubilee’s keeping her distance since he doesn’t like being touched either, Eric never thinks to ask why she wears gloves all the time. Their friendship blooms and turns into something more, but there’s a limit to what can be since they can never touch.
Colleen Oakley captured Jubilee’s anxiety, her hopes and fears so perfectly. She’s used to being abandoned and left alone, so it’s very jarring and unnatural for her to be out interacting with other people. But she makes friends with her coworkers, with Madison, and even with Aja. You get to know Jubilee well since half of the book is in her point of view, but there’s also portions that are from Eric’s POV as well.
Eric is a bit of a mystery to Jubilee, but she knows that she looks forward to seeing him every day. Eric’s got a lot on his plate, having just moved to town for a six month temporary job filling in at his company’s branch. His teenage daughter won’t talk to him and his ex-wife blames him for their divorce. His adopted son is awkward and closed off. Eric is a bit uptight and stubborn himself, and he’s not able to read people all that well. But he meets this beautiful, awkward woman at the library, and she just takes his breath away, and more importantly–Aja likes her and begins to open up to her. It doesn’t take long before he’s smitten.
I give Close Enough To Touch a five out of five. I could relate to Jubilee quite a bit, and I found myself rooting for her as she took all of the big steps in her life. Even though she’d been a shut in for nine years, she was still optimistic and practical, and I really enjoyed reading about her life. The secondary characters were all unique and fun, especially the head librarian Louise. Having worked in a library during my college years, I laughed a lot when Louise described the regulars they have in the library. Louise was definitely a fun character. Close Enough To Touch was touching, emotional, heartbreaking at times, but uplifting as well. I highly recommend this book!
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About Colleen Oakley
Colleen Oakley is an Atlanta-based writer and author of the novel Before I Go. Her articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, and Martha Stewart Weddings. Before she was a freelance writer, Colleen was editor in chief of Women’s Health & Fitness and senior editor at Marie Claire. Close Enough to Touch is her second novel.
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Collen Oakley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH:
Monday, April 17th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Tuesday, April 18th: 5 Minutes for Books
Friday, April 21st: Not in Jersey
Sunday, April 23rd: Writer Unboxed – author guest post “How to Make Your Readers Believe the Unbelievable (or, the Importance of Facts in Fiction)
Wednesday, April 26th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, May 1st: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, May 3rd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, May 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, May 5th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Monday, May 8th: Just Commonly
Wednesday, May 10th: Book by Book
Thursday, May 11th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, May 12th: Life by Kristen
Monday, May 15th: Suzy Approved
Thursday, May 18th: Books a la Mode
Friday, May 19th: Art @ Home