Trying to get back a stolen life

Editor’s note: Susan Hildreth, our City Librarian, will be checking in with us from time to time to let us know what she’s been reading.

I just finished reading The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano. This is the story of Melody Grace McCartney who has been in the Federal Witness Protection Program for most of her life. At age six, she and her parents girl-she-used-to-be-book-coverwitnessed a brutal act of violence that 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. The story begins when Melody, now at age 26, is still on the run and yearns to live a life as her true self.

When the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in 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 all about the real Melody; and she can not resist getting to know him. Defying the feds, she willingly goes with Bovaro, who wants to free Melody from her life on the run. They fall in love; and, although they both can imagine a wonderful life together, reality creates a different path for them.

The Federal Witness Protection program is also depicted in the television drama In Plain Sight on the USA channel. This suspenseful drama follows the cases of Mary Shannon, federal agent, who has to protect a widely diverse group of characters. It is an entertaining complement to The Girl She Used to Be.

4 thoughts on “Trying to get back a stolen life”

  1. Great review, Susan! I hadn’t heard about this book, and it sounds fantastic. Reminds me a bit of a film that I love, “Running on Empty” starring River Phoenix and Judd Hirsch. It’s also a coming-of-age story about a young man whose family has to move and change their names constantly. In this case, rather than being in the Witness Protection Program, the family are running from the law. It might be a little dated now, but it’s still a powerful story.

  2. Another totally different take on someone in a witness relocation program is Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. This book is a high octane, violence fest mostly set in a hospital. It is some of the funniest, gruesome contemporary noire style fun I have ever read. The writer is actually an MD as is the main character, so prepare for some details that will make you never want to go to the doctor again nor get your tongue pierced. Fast paced, insane, not for the feint hearted but one of the best vacation reads ever. Oh except for the shark scene…

  3. Sounds like a compelling and irresistable read. Okay, time to pony up with my OWN favorite witness protection program read: Jess Walter’s “Citizen Vince,” about a small time hood who turns states evidence against the mob and winds up lying low in Spokane circa 1980, making donuts and doing a little fraud on the side, and trying to figure out whether he should vote for Reagan or Carter in the upcoming ballot – his first. Really charming crime novel which won the Edgar a couple years back.

  4. Hi Susan, enjoyed your book review and equally enjoyed seeing your name on Shelf Talk! That is such a fabulous blog! Have you seen Sacramento’s Central library blog, “grandCENTRAL”?

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