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The Girl She Used to Be
David Cristofano
Grand Central Publishing 2009
256 pages hardcover

Identity theft has become a sobering fear in today’s society so ponder for a moment the consequences of being forced to relinquish not only your name, but all the collective, intimate, personal details of your past and present; everything that identifies and defines your uniqueness. What would be left? Who would you be? What if you knew the person you could become was forever beyond your reach and only complete surrender would allow you to be who you truly are? This is the question The Girl She Used to Be, a mystery novel by David Cristofano posits.

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano chronicles a few short but breakneck days in the life of Melody Grace McCartney, 26.

Now Sandra Clark, formerly of many other names, Melody has spent all but the first six years of her life in the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program, WITSEC, since her once-happy family stumbled upon a bloody and brutal Mafia execution.

Embittered by a lifetime of losses, being repeatedly and unceremoniously yanked from one mundane existence and plunged into another with no honest past. Blending in but never belonging, with no friends, no ties, and no normal reality beyond her nightmares and fear, Melody exhibits a confidence born or non-attachment, smoldering anger, and nothing left to lose.

In the midst of her latest WITSEC relocation, she is tracked and confronted by Jonathan Bovano, the “family man” dispatched to remove the last remaining witness.

Faced with a crossroad, she makes a dangerous but liberating decision that could place her life in imminent jeopardy. Thus begins a series of escapades and captures, and her surrender to the seduction of a life she has never known.

The reader of The Girl She Used to Be wants the unexpected and David Cristofano delivers. This mystery novel’s concept is original, imaginative, and thought-provoking. Easily read and with a good flow, The Girl She Used to Be establishes and maintains interest throughout.

Cristofano is adept at revealing Melody and Bovano as complex, discrepant characters who upon closer examination share a surprising common bond or psychological imprisonment from which they long to break free.

The uncertainty of who to trust and the nature of the eventual outcome sets the reader to question whether the mystery’s undertone is one of malevolence or hope. The author’s final decision may not please purists. Still, The Girl She Used to Be is a relatively decent book and worth the read.