From an early age, Jubilee discovers she is different. She is allergic to human touch. When she was in school, a kiss from a boy nearly kills her. She eventually becomes a recluse, hiding away in her home for nearly nine years. But after her mother’s death, Jubilee is forced out of hiding, stepping out of her comfort zone and must face the world again. She learns to connect with people and learns how to fit in.
Then, there’s Eric, a divorced man who just moved into town with his troubled adopted son and desperately wants to reconnect with his daughter who lives with her mother. He struggles trying to figure out who he is now and tries reinvents himself. When he meets Jubilee, he is struck by how brilliant and unique she is. Throughout the novel, he tries to uncover why she doesn’t let anyone touch her and introduces her to life’s possibilities.
Oakley did an amazing job moving between two perspectives. It is not an easy undertaking. Some authors do not know how to do it well. From past experience, reading other books, I sometimes find myself favouring one character over another, then wanting to simply flip through a few pages to return to my favourite character. This technique is at times unnecessary. However, it worked well for Close Enough To Touch. I loved all the characters and valued both Jubilee and Eric’s perspectives. The pacing was comfortable too and I always found myself wanting to return to the story.
Some characters also worth mentioning are: Aja, Eric’s adopted son and Madison, Jubilee’s new friend. Aja may be dealing with a few issues but he is an exceptionally smart kid. He struggles with his parents’ death and copes by pretending he has superpowers like the heroes from X-men. As an X-men fan, I adored the tie-in when Aja believes Jubilee is a mutant herself. She shares the same name with a member of the X-men and her inability to touch humans is reminiscent of the X-men character Rogue. This sparks a friendship between Jubilee and Aja. Jubilee helps Eric understand what Aja is going through and Aja explains to Eric what Jubilee’s struggle is. Together, they help overcome their adversities.
Meanwhile, Madison is the first person Jubilee meets when she finds enough courage to step out into the world. She helps Jubilee get a job at the local public library. Overtime, Madison becomes her confidante. Jubilee shares her worries about getting close to Eric and in return, Madison offers advice. She also gives her a chance to have new experiences like eating freshly baked donuts, going to the movies, and even trying Xanax to help with her anxiety (which probably wasn’t the best idea).
The novel was a delight to read with its complex and realistic characters. The story was both fun and refreshing. Everything was perfect up until the ending. It completely rubbed me the wrong way. Spoilers Ahead! Read the book first if you don’t want it spoiled. Towards the end of the book, a few years after Jubilee and Eric split ways, Jubilee is cured and she’s dating Michael (someone she met while working at the library). Jubilee, Michael and Madison walked through town and cross paths with Eric. Jubilee and Eric have a moment a lone to catch up. Eric learns Jubilee is finally cured. After so much longing and desire, they kiss in the street. It would have been the perfect ending to the story, however multiple years had passed and Jubilee was dating Michael. The moment was more bitter than sweet.
Despite the ending, I still very much loved this story. I highly recommend it!
*Disclosure: An advance reading copy was provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions within this review are solely my own, not that of the publisher or the author.