Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

BOTTOM LINE: A beautiful novel

Genre: Romance; Contemporary; Women’s; Medical
Publication Date: 7 March 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“From the author of Before I Go comes an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

Love has no boundaries…

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.”

My Thoughts: Close Enough to Touch is the type of novel that makes you feel. You feel Jubilee’s pain and heartache, her fear, and her courage. Watching her burgeoning romance unfold gives you the same butterflies as your own first love did, while watching her face down every challenge thrown her way fills you with pride and tenderness. In the end, she reminds you that life is meant for living and that the pain and suffering that comes along with that is part of the experience. It is a wonderful reminder that we all need every once in a while, made more powerful given the daily drama and increasingly terrifying headlines.

Colleen Oakley admits in her author’s notes that being allergic to humans is a made-up ailment, but she sells it well. After all, dogs can be allergic to dander too, so it takes no great stretch of the imagination to accept a human-to-human allergy. Given her severe reaction to others, her self-imposed isolation also makes total sense. There is the added pleasure of the fact that she is living the life so many introverts dream of having – no human interaction, surrounded by ALL the books with nothing but time to read them. Yet, Ms. Oakley shows the dangers of such a life instead of glorifying it, not destroying the dream exactly but highlighting the impracticality and long-term effects of it.

Jubilee is a delightful character with whom it is all too easy to fall in love. She is a tragic figure but is able to laugh at herself and at the hand she was dealt. More importantly, she does not sit and wallow…much. She recognizes the situation in which she finds herself and accepts it. She is also extremely strong, more than she consciously believes. When needs must, she does what has to be done, whether that means stepping foot outside for the first time in ten years or saving the life of a boy at the risk of her own. Her struggles to adapt to life outside her sanctuary, the lack of human contact she must maintain, and her adjustments to living life after so long all endear her to the reader, but it is her strength of character that makes the greatest impression.

Close Enough to Touch is a gorgeous novel about love and life. While there is a romantic interest for Jubilee, what she discovers about love is more than the relationship kind. She discovers what it means to love yourself enough to care about your future and take a chance at life. It is the type of feel-good story that makes you glad to be alive and reminds you why you love to read.

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