Read The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano Online


An irresistibly poignant and unforgettable story of a woman searching for her identity and a place--or a person--to call home... THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with theAn irresistibly poignant and unforgettable story of a woman searching for her identity and a place--or a person--to call home... THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, but the program took Melody's name, her home, her family, and ultimately her innocence. Now, twenty years later and still on the run, she's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others. But the one person she longs to be is Melody Grace McCartney. So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in yet another new town, she's stunned by a man who accosts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to find her, knows her, the real her, and it's a thrill Melody can't resist. Defying the feds, she goes willingly with him. To the Justice Department, she's nothing more than a pawn in the government's war against the Bovaro family. But, as dangerous as Jonathan is, he presents her with the chance of a lifetime--the chance to embrace her past and present, and choose a future all her own....

Title : The Girl She Used to Be
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781410419576
Format Type : Large Print
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Girl She Used to Be Reviews

  • Melissa Francis
    2019-04-04 10:50

    Before I go any further, I feel I need to let you know, Cristofano and I are represented by the same literary agency, but other than that, we have no ties whatsoever. Of course, now I'm a major fangirl, but that's a whole 'nother topic.This book was sent to me as a thank you gift. I was immediately drawn to the cover and the concept. So I took it with me to Orlando with the thought that I would read it over the week.I almost finished it that day. And I was so moved and so haunted by the story that I seriously wanted to flip back to page one and start all over. Instead I gave the book to Maria so she could experience the book that melted my cold, black heart.Melody Grace McCartney has had eight aliases over 20 years. She's lived eight false lives because at the age of six, she unfortunately witnessed a gruesome murder by mafioso Tony Bovaro. Whisked to safey under the Federal Witness Protection Program, Melody has never felt safe nor protected. Especially once her parents were assassinated twelve years into the program by the very family who they were supposedly being protected from.Melody just longs to be Melody again, but knowing that can never happen, she decides a new identity is still better than the one she is currently living with, so she fakes danger, calls her Marshal for protection, and is again whisked off to safety.Except this time, she's intercepted by the son of Tony Bovaro. He promises he will never hurt her, never allow harm to come to her as long as she is with him, and when he uses her real name--she can't help but believe him.Jonathon Bovaro is the anti-hero in this poignant and riveting tale. He is violent and angry, but he is also honest, compassionate, and he has a plan to offer Melody freedom and protection within the family so that she no longer has to run. He never lies to her and she knows she can trust him--something she's never felt in 20 years on the run.This story is a must read. It is compelling and heart-wrenching. I had no idea how Cristofano would end the story, but I was crying buckets by the time it was over. One day, I hope to write a story that will affect someone the way this story has effected me.Buy it today. You won't be sorry.

  • Wendy
    2019-04-19 12:48

    Oh, this book. The concept and plot of this book are interesting, I just wish someone else had written it. It's written by a man, but as a first-person narrative, with the narrator being a woman; this isn't horribly uncommon, and some men handle it deftly. Sadly, Cristofano wasn't one of those men. His dialogue is heavy-handed and his male lead is a little too... sappy? I found myself rolling my eyes and groaning at the cheesiness more than once. I'm all for the alpha-male exterior belying a deeper, more soulful (perhaps even somewhat sensitive) man, but I kept wanting to scream WHO SAYS THESE THINGS? And furthermore, WHAT WOMAN SWOONS UPON HEARING THEM? I'm not sure who the target audience was for this book, but I'm guessing I'm not it. But I'm conflicted. Because really, I like the ideas behind the book. The plot was engaging. In the hands of the right screenwriter, this could be adapted into a highly entertaining movie, especially if they focused less on the star-crossed lovers aspect and more on the WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IS SHE DOING? aspect. But I just can't get past the cheese. Oy.

  • Marta hoelscher
    2019-04-05 10:00

    I have to say right off the bat that I loved this book. First of all the plot is something completely fresh and different. It isn't your usual romance and not your usual mafia-type book, and yet it combines both elements in a story that is outrageous at the same time that it makes perfect sense. David Cristofano is definately an author to keep watching. The story he's woven here is nothing short of amazing and even after reading the description of the book isn't what you expect when you start it. There are twists and turns that the reader most likely won't see coming. Expect the unexpected with this book! This is Cristofano's first novel and he's hit one out of the ballpark with this one. This is a book everyone should be, and will be reading in 2009! The book isn't a huge read at 256 pages, so it's a good rainy Sunday, curled-up-on-the-couch kinda book. I hope you all pick up a copy and get to read it. If you do, let me know what you think of it. I'm betting you'll be a fan long before you read the last page.~

  • Elle Moxley
    2019-04-12 11:48

    This book is easily - easily - the worst I have ever read. I'm a big fan of police procedurals and picked it up because I thought the premise would be interesting. Not only was I wrong, I was on a cruise ship surrounded by ocean with no other novels in sight. So I pushed forward in hopes it would get better. (It didn't.)As another reviewer pointed out, this is a book told from the perspective of a woman but written by a man. Many, many authors play with this combination and succeed. What you get from Cristofano is bad dialogue no man would ever say and no woman would want to hear. The love story is absurd, boring and predictable. The main character is so mind numbingly stupid I was actually rooting for the mobsters who killed her parents to finish the job. She's certainly not a role model for any woman I know.Not every book has to be a classic, and there's a market for easy-to-read romance novels that don't require any heavy lifting. But even within that genre, there's plenty of quality reading material. Bypass this book ... or just chuck it overboard.

  • Tahmeena
    2019-04-09 16:07

    Lately I have been reading quite a few books where the story starts off great and then goes downhill at an incredible pace. This book tops that list.The first part of the book is really good. I really liked the protagonist Melody, and it was easy to sympathize and understand her situation. But after Jonathan Bovaro shows up, I found myself completely bewildered. The first scene with the two of them was pretty interesting, and I could sort of see why Melody was acting the way she was. But the subsequent parts of the book are just ridiculous. It turns into a horrible and cheesy romance novel. The bad guy who is not really bad, the make-over (at that point in the story, a little part of me died), the sacrifice...oh God!But the single most horrendous part of the book was Melody's attitude towards the man who murdered her parents and destroyed her life. That just totally destroyed the book for me...although I think the make-over part also contributed heavily.

  • Cphe
    2019-04-20 09:50

    A bit of a disappointment and didn't live up to the promise conveyed in the synopsis. The story started out strongly and I liked Melody's portrayal and the reasons behind her inclusion in the Witness Protection Programme. Had no problem identifying with her desire for a normal life and to be herself. The main issue for me was when she met up with Jonathan. Her actions and thoughts just didn't tie in with how she was presented early in the story. To my mind it was Jonathan who was the weak link. He was supposed to be the "bad guy" but he just came across as wishy washy, not the son of a ruthless Mafia boss.Some of the scenes and dialogue between them lacked substance and IMO, chemistry at times.The novel is written from Melody's POV and I think that attributed to some of the flat and unbelievable dialogue. It just did gel. Not a keeper.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-04-11 11:48

    Raised in the Witness Relocation Program after she and her family witnessed a gang-land murder, Melody Grace McCartney wants the life that was denied her. After twenty years, her family is dead and her original case worker has retired. Tired and bored of her current cover, Melody lies to the authorities about a threat, not knowing that the crime family had indeed found her.Spirited away by her new protector Sean, Melody finds herself attracted to the young agent. Yet, when Jonathon, the son of murderer that wants her dead finds Melody, she is attracted to him as well. Sean promises her more of the same, Jonathon tells her he can end her misery and life in protection, yet how can she trust the man that is supposed to kill her?Davis Cristofano has constructed a taut thriller that keeps pace with anything currently being published. Fast moving and intelligent, the story does not follow the usual thriller patterns, becoming pleasantly unpredictable. Melody becomes a believable character and the tension is felt by the reader. Usually, I read several books at once. Chapter here, chapter there. I must admit that I read this book yesterday in one seating, by the fire as it snowed throughout Atlanta. A perfect book for a day in and a wonderful replacement for the Television, after I had finished with the story it felt like I had been to a movie. I found the writing that vivid, I could actually visualize the action. The interplay between Melody and her two men is almost as good as the interplay inside of Melody. She sees herself as a helpless victim, until her own actions are brought to life through the story. Cristofano has written a wonderful debut novel and I eagerly await any follow-up.

  • Rita
    2019-03-28 12:51

    Oh my God, this book was sooooo bad. The characters were like paper dolls and the dialogue was unbelievable. The whole plot was just unreal, too. Are there people that dumb in the world? I hope I never meet them.The only reason I finished the book was to see which macho man--the tall, built, sweet government guy or the sensitive but tough mafia due--was going to win the damsel in distress at the end. I uh, won't spoil it for you in case you, too, want to muddle through it to find out for yourself.

  • Linda
    2019-03-20 14:47

    I don't understand how this book could be highly rated by other readers. The story-line is so ridiculous that the book is laughable.The novel starts off well. It is a very interesting premise. The main character is a woman who has been in Witness Protection for most of her life. She and her family witnessed a brutal killing by the mafia. The author does a good job in describing the heartbreak of a child growing up in the Witness Protection Program. In the present day, her parents are no longer alive. Her loneliness is palpable. She taps into the lives of other families through the use of a baby-monitor, and pretends that those families are hers. The book opens with the main character as a High School teacher. She is bored with her life. She even explains to the reader that when she gets bored she contacts WITSEC, claims that someone has discovered her identity and then they relocate her. She has done this on numerous occasions.If the story had stayed on this path, it could have been quite good. However when the son of the mafia family who is looking to kill the main character, finds her and asks her to come with him to meet his family and all will be forgiven, the book becomes improbable and childish. The characters are falling in love with each other without hesitation. She feels safe in the mafia guy's presence, which is so absurd because his family has been tracking her for practically her entire life in order to kill her.The officers from WITSEC are made out to be incompetent bad guys, and the mafia, or at least some parts of the mafia, are made out to be the misunderstood good guys.To be fair, there were some interesting parts -- as for example their visit to a Hotel/Spa and the way the mafia guy wines and dines her and takes gentle care of her.The ending could have made the book bearable if the author had made Jonathan (the mafia guy) not what he was presented to be throughout the book, but even that fell flat.I would not waste your time reading this book unless you like fairy-tales.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-22 18:04

    I am seriously lacking in sleep today because I could not put this book down and did not get much sleep last night. I wanted to read this book because I never thought much about life would be like for these people in the witness protection program. Initially Melody irked me with her constantly lying whenever she got bored with her current situation so they would create a new identity for her. The more you hear of her story though, the more you begin to understand her and why she does the things she does. Jonathan turns out to be the opposite of all stereotypes I had of a Mafia son. It is hard to believe that anyone coming from a Mafia family could really be a normal guy and not really happy being in the “family business”. The chemistry between the two was sizzling and despite what was going on I was hoping the two would end up with each other.As the number of pages left to read dwindled I was on tender hooks waiting to find out what would happen to Melody and Jonathan. While the ending isn’t what I was hoping for it was probably more realistic than what I imagined. I highly recommend this book!

  • Maria Elmvang
    2019-03-27 16:06

    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."Melody knows exactly what's in a name - an identity. The problem is that her name has been taken from her. Since the age of six she's been a Sandra, a May, a Karen, an Anne, a Michelle and countless others. She's frustrated and tired and just wants her identity back! Melody has been in the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC) practically her entire life, but as even that didn't save the lives of her parents, she doesn't even feel particularly safe, and it therefore seems like such a waste.So it comes almost as a relief to her when one day the Bovaro family finds her. Taken from right underneath the nose of the marshal who was supposed to protect her, she is kidnapped by the son of the man her parents testified against. She knows very well that her life is now in the hands of the enemy, and that she may die whenever he chooses... but at least she's no longer running. At least she can now be Melody again.But Jonathan Bovaro is nothing like she'd expected him to be and her future may still turn out to be very different than anybody would have guessed.While a good plot and an interesting story, I felt The Girl I Used to Be would have benefitted from a more thorough editing. It seemed rushed in some places and inconsistent in others. It wasn't enough to ruin the book, but it did prevent it from rating as high in my opinion as it otherwise would have.What really fascinated me was reading the thoughts Melody had about her life as a "non-entity". Not only did she have to get used to a new identity, but she could never make anything of her life, as she couldn't run the risk of becoming famous and thus easy to find. I'd never stopped to think that a person in the WITSEC may be there for life, and that it affects all parts of that person's life.Really makes me value my own life, and my own opportunities.

  • Lee Libro
    2019-04-14 12:08

    The publicists at Author Exposure provided me with a complimentary copy of The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano after I chose it from a selection of over fifty other titles to review. When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody's name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others--everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself. So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another town, she's stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her, the real her, and it's a dangerous thrill that Melody can't resist. He's insistent that she's just a pawn in the government's war against the Bovaro family. But can she trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary?The short synopsis sounded appealing enough and the title struck a chord with my own morphing sense of female identity, but the real grabber for me was that the author is male. Written in the first person from the viewpoint of the main female character, the story presented an intrinsic challenge and I was curious to see how well the author could rise to it. The story starts with a twenty-six-year-old woman who has lived a series of identities after having been witness to a murder at the age of six. At that time she was Melody Grace McCartney, but through the Witness Protection Program, she has lived her life revolving in and out of eight other identities, complete with new names, social security numbers, geographical locations and occupations. Along the way, she has lost her family, her childhood and the roots that nurture a human being, and now as an adult it would appear that she will have to forgo the joys of human bonds, relationship, motherhood, all the simple pleasures of everyday life with family and love—she is alone in the deepest sense of the word. Her true original sense of identity lays buried beneath the impossibility of living a normal life while constantly on the run. And yet, she is pleasantly surprised to find it alive and kicking when she comes up against Jonathan Bovaro, the son of the mafioso responsible for the murder she and her family had witnessed. He knows the real her, even calls her by her real name, so long forbidden and yet somehow now mesmerizing. He represents the ultimate danger to her but he presents to her an interesting proposition, the opportunity to clear the way for a chance to live her own life. His intentions toward her are slightly askew from the job he has been appointed to do—to kill her—and in this we are privy to the morality and inner psychology that can temper writing, the type of crafting that shifts the reader’s attention into the higher gears of true excellent literary entertainment.But what makes the story so incredibly compelling is the true chords the author achieves with the female character’s inner conflicts. The fact that he is a male writer immediately evaporates from page one with the opening: “Name me. Gaze into my eyes, study my smile and my dimples and tell me who you see. I look like an Emma. I look like an Amy. I look like a Katherine. I look like a Kathryn. I look like your best friend’s sister, your sister’s best friend.” From then on it is Melody’s story, told so tightly and compactly that one can’t help but turn page after page as we become truly invested in her outcome. The author masterfully crafts a twisting, turning tale of romance, intrique and human drama and does so without falling into any trite stereotypical or tired themes. The nuances he provides to the reader in both the narrative main female character and Jonathan Bovaro are refreshing. Picture a youthful mafia man wearing glasses, or one who corrects himself when he’s about to swear in front of the woman he loves and you begin to get the picture. The characters are so viable you can almost touch them. Indeed, the author has developed an extremely palpable love scenario, but even more the sense of danger and impending confrontation with “the girls” nemesis, the Bavaro Crime family, provide enervating anticipation for the final conclusion. Anyone who enjoys the combination of mystery and romance, or intrigue and thriller or even chick lit with a deeper literary bent will love The Girl She Used To Be. I give it five out of a possible five stars!

  • pinkgal
    2019-04-16 10:46

    Ennui and sympathy only work so far here. It's hard not to like the book, but essentially, I felt like this was a romance novel disguised as a serious look at the life of a person in the Witness Protection Program. I never felt the urgency, I never really got into the title character, and I certainly had no strong feelings about the plot... or lack thereof. That all being said... well. I did enjoy it - the girl is such an idiot, that you can't help but like her (especially the fact that she doesn't really realize that she's an idiot) or at least, want to prod her along into what is apparently the Greatest Romance Ever with, yep, the son of the family that killed hers. If that's not the basic plotline of about a thousand and one Harlequin romance novels, I don't know what is. Very Romeo and Juliet, except that there's not enough violence to satisfy my bloodthirsty urges. But I'm being too hard; this book is one of those stories that have a great beginning, and middling middle, and a poignant ending. If it wasn't for that ending, I probably would have given this two stars. I'm a sucker for poignant endings that hint at a big, wide future, so this delivered rather perfectly.

  • Kc
    2019-04-06 11:09

    I must first say that I am not a reader of love stories.The description led me to believe it was a suspense novel. That being said I find myself wondering if I read the same book as the others who have given this book four and five stars. The charaters are annoying and pathetic and the storyline is ridiciulous. I found myself rushing to get to the end and not because I was enjoying it. Storyline is weak and unbelievable. Description had so much potential. Very disappointing in the end

  • Tina
    2019-03-27 15:41

    I really enjoyed this one about a girl basically "raised" in the Witness Protection Program. It's also a "love story" about falling in love with the wrong her case the absolute wrong guy! I hear the rights of the book have been sold to make a movie out of it.......

  • Yen Lian
    2019-04-05 09:48

    My review posted here

  • Laura
    2019-04-12 11:58

    If you like books that have a happy, everything-works-out ending, the girl-gets-the-guy book, this isn't for you. I love happy endings, even if they aren't so realistic. Isn't that why we read, because reality is sometimes more than we can handle, becuase reality doesn't always have those kinds of endings? The novel is about a girl, Melody, who is placed into the Witness Protection Program after her family witnessed a brutal murder by a Mafia thug. Melody was 6 when the family wintessed the crime- twenty years later, her parents are dead and she is losing faith in the program. Then she meets the son of the Mafia man, Jonathan, and love happens in this most unlikely situation. It's a tale of Melody growing up emotionally and learning to be free and to experience true love for the first time. I was instantly sucked into the book with it's dry narrative, and the spars of whit that Melody spews out at an amazing rate. I just REALLY wanted it to be that forever happily ever after. It was a really quick read- I just wish I had checked it out from the library instead of purchasing it. It is a book that I probably won't read again- there are too many really good novels that are more worth a second read. But, this was an ok book- barely any swearing and NO lewd scenes- so that was a PLUS!

  • Elizabeth Scott
    2019-04-07 16:02

    I really like this one a lot--it's like nothing I've ever read before. When Melody was six, she and her family witnessed a mob killing, and, after the government pressured her parents to testify, were put into witness protection. Melody and her parents were moved a lot--sometimes because of threats, and sometimes, especially when she was younger, Melody would forget who she was supposed to be. In spite of all the moves, the name changes, the frankly grim-sounding life, Melody finds herself alone at twenty-six, facing a lifetime of more moves, of more...well, nothing. So when Jonathan Bovaro, son of the man whose parents Melody's parents testified against, and who the Bovaro family always managed to keep track of, finds her, she figures she's dead. But instead he tells her he wants to help her.Will he? Can she? Can she/should she trust him? And what about the federal government and the protection program? They catch up to her, tell her things--and Melody has to decide what to do. You can see the ending coming, but it doesn't make it any less beautiful and haunting. And the writing--oh, the writing! It's truly gorgeous. I look forward to David Cristofano's next book, and his next insights into the human heart

  • Liberty Abbott-Sylvester
    2019-04-07 09:52

    This was a fantastic book. I couldn't believe that this was David Cristofano's debut novel! He developed a unique storyline and very strong characters. The way he expressed the emotions and thoughts of the characters made them very real. At times I felt like I was watching real life, not reading a book.The story centers around Melody, a participant in the Witness Protection Program. Her family was put in the program when she was six after witnessing a mob killing. Many years and identities later, Melody is alone in the program due to the mob tracking her parents down and killing them. But Melody has never felt safe or content. She wants her life back, she's tired of hiding, she wants her freedom. While being prepared for yet another new identity, Melody is approached by Jonathan Bovaro, the son of the mobster who killed her parents. Jonathan makes Melody an offer...but is it one she is willing to take? You'll have to read this wonderful book to find out

  • Freda Mans-Labianca
    2019-04-19 17:46

    A deeply emotional read.Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sobbing through the story. No, this story was much more powerful than that.No one can know what it is like to be in Witness Protection, unless they have been in the program. I always thought it would be like jail. No freedom. Always on the look-out over your shoulder, and this story, Melody's story, drove that notion home for me. She was never happy, not even content. She never settled down, nor was comfortable. That's not what living is about or how life should be. But that was her world.I liked how real everything felt as the author took us through Melody's story. If asking myself, hypothetically, the same things, I am sure my reaction would be close to hers.I also really liked the ending. It was bittersweet, and totally unexpected in a romantic way. I would have loved to know what happened to Jonathan in the end, but can live with what we got instead. It shaped things nicely in my mind.

  • Beth Watson
    2019-04-04 09:54

    My book club finished The Girl She Used To Be last week and it is the first time in nearly three years that all eight of us completely agreed that a book was brilliant. Normally we have a half-hour discussion on our selection but we spent almost two hours talking about Cristofano's novel. It's nothing less than amazing. We found it incredible that a man could capture the voice of a woman so well. While the story is infinitely fun, humorous, and heartwrenching, it's the ending that really makes the book a clear standout. The novel is filled with unexpected twists and turns but the ending is completely unpredictable and simply gorgeous. I've been recommending this book to everyone who will listen. Here I am a week later and I still can't get the characters out of my head. This one will stick with you.

  • Brian
    2019-03-23 18:08

    Melody has been on the run for her entire life, being a participant in the Witness Protection program. And she's so tired of it. SHe can't have a normal life. It all started when her parents and her witnessed a brutal murder at the hands of a mafia head honcho. But when she stumbles upon the son of the murderer, can she really trust him? This book was surprisingly good and kept me entertained. I especially enjoyed the ending!

  • Jennifer Jowsey
    2019-03-22 10:05

    well ... it was a quick read, very short book. i know you have to suspend disbelief when reading any work of fiction, but this story was absolutely ridiculous and terrible. the main character is way too needy, and the story is completely unrealistic. however, it was an easy read, parts of it were enjoyable, but ... disappointing overall because it is just way too far-fetched.

  • Sally
    2019-03-29 10:55

    I liked the idea of the story line. But really, how unrealistic is this?? I was so annoyed by the last third of this book. I was really thinking,' Gag me with a spoon, please.' Maybe someone will write a realistic book about what it actually is like going into and living in the Witness Protection Program.

  • Lynne
    2019-03-27 15:48

    So good I read it twice last year... And plan to read it again soon!

  • Jenny
    2019-04-13 13:03

    Interesting Premise, but you can tell the end was written by a man. Girls should never act that way!

  • Jessika Santulli
    2019-04-20 15:42

    3.5 stars Imagine changing your identity so much that you don't know who you really are. Such is the life of Melody Grace McCartney, who witnessed a murder as a six year old child. Her parents testified against a mob boss, Tony Bovaro, and were killed, despite being in the Witness Protection Program. Melody is now 26, still in the program, and barely surviving. She can't get close to anyone, lives reclusively and vicariously through other families, and is about to drown in a sea of self pity. In the middle of another move, the federal marshal who is supposed to be protecting Melody falls ill. She is taken from her hotel by none other than Jonathan Bovaro, Tony's son. He offers her a chance at freedom; he wants to take her back to his family and have them meet Melody face to face. At first, Melody finds this plan completely ridiculous. Meet with the man who had her parents killed? But as she spends more and more time with Jonathan, she begins falling in love with him. Can she really forgive his family for all the pain they caused her? Will she trust the government who has sworn to protect her lies or the mafia family who can bring her either death or freedom?I don't generally ready adult fiction, but the premise of this book seemed too fascinating to pass up. I generally like books about the mafia for some reason, because I like seeing the people behind the crimes. This book was told from the point of view of a victim. Melody is a victim of the carelessness of the Witness Protection Program, but she also brought on a lot of her own suffering. Her voice is snarky and pathetic for at least the first half of the book. She is sour, bitter, and insecure. I did not like her at all.When Jonathan Bovaro enters the picture, Melody changes. Finally, someone knows who she really is, and she can be honest with him. He proves to be a complete gentleman, and though he claims that his family doesn't know anything about sacrifice, Jonathan breaks the mold. In fact, he deviates from the other Bovaros in many ways. The only thing I did not like about this book was that Jonathan's family was pretty stereotypical of an organized crime family. I wish we had gotten to know more about their idiosyncrasies, but I understand the story was Melody's. There is a sequel to this book, told from Jonathan's point of view, called The Exceptions. Maybe that will give me the depth and answers I seek.***BONUS: Since Melody loves math, all of the chapter titles are written as math equations. This was a fun, unique touch and I probably took more time than necessary to figure them out.

  • Christopher Lawson
    2019-03-29 14:08

    I absolutely loved this book! At times I couldn't stop reading it; other times I had to, mostly because I didn't want it to end. A truly remarkable debut and I will definitely read THE EXCEPTIONS sooner or later. :-)

  • Alison
    2019-04-02 10:41

    Loved the premise. Couldn't put it down. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano is about a woman who has been in the Witness Protection Program since she was a child. She and her parents witnessed a mob murder and testified against the Bovaro family. Every few years, she gets bored of her job, the town, her house, or her life, and she conjures up some false threat in order to get WITSEC to move her again. Each time, she takes on a new identity and a new job, never making any meaningful friendships or romances. Then one day, a man approaches her and calls her by her real name, the name that no one has called her since she was a child. Who is this man? Is she still safe? Was she ever safe? How did he find her?My book club read The Girl She Used to Be and it got mixed reviews from the seven of us. The majority loved it - for the pace, the intrigue, and the love interest - but for some, it fell short. I am somewhere in between. Melody Grace McCartney, the main character, has issues. Who wouldn't after living as a stranger her whole life, always afraid, forever wondering if this day will be her last? Imagine living this way as a teenager - we get a glimpse of just how awful that time period was for her and her family. There were moments when I sympathized with Melody, but other times I wanted to smack her for feeling so sorry for herself. But then I would come across a passage like this one, and I would once again feel for her:One of the worst parts of being in the Federal Witness Protection that you will never be any of those things you dreamed about as a child, unless your dream was of cold anonymity. You will never be a famous ballet dancer or an all-star shortstop. You will never be an Oscar-winning actor or a world-class journalist. You will never be a congressman, a judge, a CEO, a rock star.You will never be. My heart broke for Melody when I read that. The man who knows her by her real name is obviously the turning point for the whole book, but she finds herself kidnapped, and her reaction is not what any normal person would feel if she were in a car taking us to an unknown fate:For the first time in twenty years I am not running. Because I am captured.I have never felt freer than I do right now. Melody is a complex character, to say the least, but I am blown away that a man created this character so fully and honestly. I don't know how David Cristofano did it - he must have grown up with a lot of sisters or has an amazing relationship with his wife. Whatever it is, he got Melody right. Her character never felt forced or contrived. I couldn't help but reflect on Melody's parents in this book. They chose this life for her, she was too young to have an opinion, yet she would never be able to escape and be her true self. Who would do that to their child? Maybe this is one of the reasons people don't snitch on the mafia.Despite one scene which made me cringe a bit, I highly recommend The Girl She Used to Be. It wasn't one of my favorites, but I really enjoyed it. I think it's a great summer read, the pages will fly by, and you'll enjoy the possible love story.

  • Louise
    2019-03-21 18:01

    Although 253 pages, I read this in one sitting, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages. Twenty-six-year-old Melody Grace McCartney was only six-years-old when she and her family were placed into the Witness Protection Program after they witnessed a horrendous murder committed by someone in the notorious Bovaro family. Melody has had many aliases over the past 20 years and is currently known as, Sandra Clarke. Sandra is a high school math teacher living a comfortable life but decides one afternoon that she’s tired and bored of being Sandra and wants yet another move. She phones her Protection Agent, one Randall Farquar, and tells him she received a phone call from someone with a New York accent who said: “Sing me a song, Melody.” Of course this never really happened but Sandra wanted another new life.When she arrives at the Federal building she is disappointed to learn that Randall is retiring and won’t be handling her case any longer and introduces her to Marshal Sean Douglas, her new ‘protector/locator’. After a long conversation and reading through her file, Marshal Douglas and Melody hit the road for another relocation. While staying overnight in a motel, Melody awakens to a male voice saying: “Melody Grace McCartney!” with a knife pressed to her throat. Who is this man and what does he want? She finally realizes the man is none other than Jonathan Bovaro, the Mafioso sent to find her. Melody is actually thrilled and she just can’t resist and decides to go “willingly” with Jonathan because she’s tired of running and never being who she was born to be. As dangerous as Jonathan is, he gives Melody a once in a lifetime chance – the chance to embrace her past and present, and then choose her very own future.The writing was flawless in the novel and the story just flowed like a river. I absolutely fell in love with both Jonathan and Melody and really wanted them to become a couple, to be engaged and then to marry. How crazy is that? The man is a killer, his family killed her parents leaving her alone and with a lifetime of assumed names and occupations, but once you read this story, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Any woman would want the type of ‘relationship’ that Jonathan and Melody end up having.The concept of this story, that a “protected witness” would willingly go with a “killer” is almost beyond comprehension, but believe me, it works. And who knows, in Melody’s situation, with your feet in HER shoes all these years, you just might make the same choice. This was definitely one book well worth reading!