Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

touchThis book had so much going on in that was directly appealing to me. A young woman has been a recluse for 9 years, she is literally allergic to other human beings and touching someone can cause anaphylactic shock, there’s a library job with lots of references to books, a child with some mental health issues, and a divorced dad just trying to do his best. And a growing and unlikely love between him and the allergic woman. What’s not to love?

I liked how there was a rational explanation for her very rare allergy and I liked JubileeĀ as a person-she was funny and smart and not unaware of her issues. There were bits of humor and also real grief and pathos. Not even so much from the little boy, Aja, who lost both his parents, but from reading what the absence of human touch has done to her and meant to her. And then, when there is a growing attraction and they can’t act on it-so much tension!

I really enjoyed this a lot and also the structure-having the New York Times articles interspersed. This would get 4 1/2 stars from me. The one thing that didn’t ring true for me was in the epilogue. So spoiler alert!! Stop reading now if you haven’t read this, because I’m about to give away the whole ending…

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I just don’t believe that they way the last chapter ended, with them ready to take a chance and make it work,with their love and friendship so believable, that they would have just not seen each other or talked to each other once he moved back to NH. 7 years?! That just seemed to not match at all. Especially since she remained in contact with Aja (whom I would have liked a little more epilogue info about, and also what about Ellie? How did she turn out? Was the relationship with her dad repaired?) I was glad to see that she had built a family of close friends around her and her life was good, but I just didn’t believe Eric wouldn’t have been a part of it.
Also, according to the final article the gene stuff didn’t work, but it took at least 5 years to find out. And then they did try the herbal medicine stuff which the dr said had about an 80% success rate with her other allergy patients, and then that worked and cured her. Wasn’t that the same technique that, when Jubilee first met with her, she said wouldn’t be worth trying and they should do the gene stuff instead? Isn’t Jubilee infuriated that she just spent over 5 years trying something that didn’t work (and apparently cost 100s of thousands of dollars) when the 18 month treatment completely cured her? But no mention of that.
And one last dig, from a librarian. Please tell me where this library is that people just get jobs because someone asked for them to be hired. Recluses who are well read but have no library experience. And then get referred to as “librarian” all throughout the rest of the book. Because she wasn’t.