The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
From Amazon / Booklist
After 20 years in the Federal Witness Protection Program (WITSEC) and eight aliases, Melody Grace McCartney hardly knows who she is. On the run since she and her parents stumbled on a gruesome murder by mobster Tony Bovaro when she was six years old, Grace saw WITSEC’s promised protection fail her mother and father when they were killed 12 years later. Now she feigns personal danger to be relocated just because she’s bored and wants a change. But before her new case officer can move her from suburban Maryland to rural Wisconsin, Tony’s son, Jonathan, tracks her down to present an alternative: protection from his family and a life of more safety and freedom than she has ever known. While federal officials pressure her to stay in WITSEC and show her Jonathan’s violent side, her attraction to him grows, and she must decide a course for the rest of her life. This is a compulsively readable, skillfully constructed first novel with well-drawn characters and a plot that twists and turns to what seems the best possible conclusion, marking Cristofano as a writer to watch. --Michele Leber
I read this book in about a day, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's always a joy to read such a well-crafted novel. I thought it was such an interesting idea of a character who couldn't be herself - literally! Melody hasn't been able to be "Melody" since she was six years old, and when Jonathan calls her by name, she can't resist listening to him and his proposal. It did make me think about how closely tied we are to our name and hometown as a big part of our identity - to have those taken away would make me feel very lost in the world.
I look forward to more books by Mr. Cristofano.