Close Enough to Touch
by Colleen Oakley
Source: ARC – Netgalley, Gallery Books
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…
2.5 of 5 Stars
I really wanted to like this book, much more than I did. The premise is fascinating and though I’m not usually drawn to romance, this intrigued me. I’m always on the search for new themes in the romantic genre that I can latch onto. Sadly, this wasn’t my cup of tea for a number of reasons.
Jubilee drove me absolutely crazy through the entire book. I wanted to shake, lecture, and just generally shove her out of her own head. In many ways, I understood why she acted the way she did, and even could sometimes relate to her reactions to others. That said, the repetition of it was frustrating. I wanted more growth from her through the entire story but instead, it seemed to happen almost entirely toward the end. Eric didn’t bother me as much as Jubilee but he was still annoying in numerous ways. A lot of the story revolving around him felt drawn out, details given in tiny crumbs which made plot progress slow. My favorite character was Aja, Eric’s adopted son. I think I would have found a story revolving around him far more interesting.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of romance in general though I can get into some. I was hoping, with fingers crossed, that this would be one of those romances that I could get behind. I knew it would have a few cliches, and it did. Eric and Jubilee experience ‘insta-love’ but because of Jubilee’s condition, it’s in slow motion. I wished over and over again that the two of them could just talk to each other like adults instead of the mind games that ensued. I didn’t mind this that much, though, I actually enjoyed the romance right up until the end. The tension and up and down roller coaster kept the book enjoyable even when I was super frustrated with the characters.
- The End
This is the biggest reason I’m rating this book the way I am. I really disliked the way the story was wrapped up. First, it didn’t show a lot of emotional growth in Jubilee which I found frustrating. It hinted that she was ‘better’ but she was still making choices that reflected a low self-esteem. I especially didn’t like the turn the romantic aspect of the story took, it just didn’t make sense to me at all.
While there were many aspects of this novel I didn’t like, I appreciated the exceptional portrayal of mental illness in this book. Jubilee struggles with depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia – all of which are caused by her chronic illness and the way it dominoes in her life. Even though this wasn’t for me, I still recommend this book to others. Fans of romance will probably enjoy this book, especially if you think you can look past some of the things that bothered me.