I’m joining Jain in her bi-monthly edible book review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!
The Girl She Used To Be **** by David Cristofano
The Girl She Used To Be has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author.
This page-turning story is told by Melody herself, who is swept into the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC) along with her parents at the tender age of six. The program fails her parents, and twenty years later she’s still on the run from mafioso Tony Bovaro.
When I was born, my parents assembled a string of vowels and consonants so magical, so rhythmic and haunting, that the human form had yet to be married to such beauty. When I was six, it was taken away. And because of my ineptitude and innocent inability to keep a secret, they took it away again when I was eight. And at nine. At eleven. Twice at thirteen.
“Just be quiet, keep to yourself, and stay under the radar and the government will give the best thing they have to offer: You get to live. The price is an existence of tedium. You have just become irreparably average. You are not special. You are not unique. You are not a prime number.”
Every eighteen to twenty-four months like clockwork, Melody gets bored with her surroundings and calls the U.S. Marshal assigned to her with a claim that she has been found and threatened…again.
Melody discover she has been assigned a new Marshal, Sean, who is less likely to be manipulated, but does try to appease her with Orange Hostess Cupcakes.
Melody’s opinion about Sean:
Melody explains why she’s so passionate about math:
My interest–okay, obsession–with math is genuine, and has been since the first time I was ripped away from the life I loved. I buried myself in numbers and word problems where an answer was certain (or at least in the back of the book) and I knew I’d found something that I could count on.
It’s rigid. It’s firm and unyielding. It never lies.
While under Sean’s protective custody, Melody’s hotel room is broken into by none other than Jonathan Bavaro, Tony’s son. Jonathan, professing that he’s that not there to hurt her, convinces her that she has a better opportunity to start over with him. It’s a temptation she can’t resist.
The Bavaros have destroyed my life, killed my parents, sucked every ounce of hope out of me. I want to hate Jonathan–I want to destroy him–but I can’t. Despite the fact that he’s some vague threat to my life, he’s also the only person who has any authentic interest in me, in who I am.
In fact, we are identical except for one thing: You would give anything to be who you were meant to be, and I would give anything to be anyone but who I was meant to be.
Jonathan begins to wine and dine Melody…
Just as Melody begins to relax with Jonathan, Sean has followed her trail and she is picked up by the Marshals Service again.
She manages to give the marshals the slip and Jonathan comes to her rescue. This pattern continues until ultimately she withdraws herself from WITSEC permanently, realizing she is nothing more than a pawn in the government’s war against the Bovaro family.
I open my eyes and realize there is no way to turn this around. Before, there was one good guy and one bad guy; now I’m lost in a world of distrust and corruption and the odds of my survival have slipped to about one in a thousand. The only person left I can trust myself–and I have no idea who I am.
There were lots of drool-worthy Italian Food and Seafood Scenes to choose from in this book. I have been on a mussel kick lately so the passage above leapt off the page at me.
I found a quick and easy mussel recipe in Tyler’s Ultimate Cookbook…(you may have gathered by now that I am a Tyler Florence fan :-)
Jonathan’s grand plan is to take Melody to meet his family:
I’m going to show my family what a nice woman you are, how you are no threat to them, and —how you are a person. Not some file of incriminating evidence they’re trying to erase or a rat spilling his guts to the cops, but a real human being with feelings and emotions…
Melody observes the Bovaro’s driveway with trepidation:
The driveway is long, with a string of vehicles parked on it, all large, all American, each with seating for eight–if you include the trunk.
Things don’t go quite like they hoped…
I actually read this book about a year ago when I saw an interview with the David Cristofano on Joshilyn Jackson’s blog Faster Than Kudzu. I finished it and put it on the shelf, rather than ‘swapping’ it, thinking I’d loan it my sister-in-law, who reads with the speed Jain does. Then I forgot about it. (Sorry, Leigh!) I ran across it again a couple of weeks ago in an effort/failed attempt to organize my books and remembered all the wonderful food passages.
I had no idea that an Orange Hostess Cupcake actually exists. I’m like a dog with a bone when I’m on a mission to find something…(much to my husband’s dismay). We happened to stop a couple of weeks ago to get gas and I ran in on the off-chance they would have some. They had ONE Orange Cupcake in the rack, next to rows of chocolate. I was thrilled (yes, I know, they probably make a pill for my condition)…it’s the little things in life :-)
You’ll have to read for yourself to see what transpires for Melody and Jonathan. Suffice it to say, the story ends in a way that makes sense, rather than how I would have liked for it to. I’m looking forward to seeing what David Cristofano has in store next!
I have never eaten Mussels. Your beautiful photographs of them ALMOST makes me want to!
The orange cupcake caught my eye too..And I get on missions also..
4 stars..it must be good then..the pics are grand..I love Tyler..and mussels..
What an outstanding Food For Thought post!! You do Jain proud, honestly. Your photos & descriptions are spot on & now you’ve got me craving Carrabba’s mussels…best in the world!!
I’m so enjoying your Food for Thought reviews. You have such a clever creative way of illustrating the books you read. I look forward to each one!
No thanks on the mussels for me, though your dish does look tempting. I got sick from mussels years ago and haven’t approached them since.
beautiful photos!!! and the book sounds intriguing! oh i LOVE mussels.thisis an extraordinary post! I lOved it. ^^
here we ago, another pleasure ride in your company, its safe to say eat up all your words, and pics! and org cupcakes, never even seen them, but dang they photograph like jewels for you!
i cannot tell you enough how much i love your creativity. i am so slow, like a snail walking over all your words and pics, and considering i am always hyper and a speed reader, trust me, you are a real treat in my eyes! you really bring these books so alive for me~
i love maps too~
and your mussels look fantastic!
funny i just saw faster then kudzo the other day. i want to read this book or sure, what an interesting premise to begin with, but i think your creativity could sell me on anything! thanks again for another fab fun review!
The book sounds good and the mussels look amazing. We had mussels in a wine/garlic sauce last weekend at Carrabba’s and I’ve been wanting to make some at home. I think I’ll use the recipe you posted.