Tag Archives: University of Maryland-College Park

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano


When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever.  The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully.  But the program took Melody’s name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately her family.  She’s been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others–everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself.  So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in  another town, she’s stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name.  Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her, the real her, and it’s a dangerous thrill that Melody can’t resist.  He’s insistent that she’s just a pawn in the government’s war against the Bovaro faimly.  But can trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary?

“All farewells should be sudden, when forever.”  This quote by Lord Byron is an appropriate lead into a very exciting, dramatic, and at times heartfelt journey of a young woman trying to become herself…literally.

Melody Grace McCartney has been anything but herself since the day, at the age of sic, she and her family were witness to a brutal mob hit and became part of the Federal Witness Protection Program.  What follows is a brief and at time heartbreaking account of what it is like to lose oneself.  And when Melody, a.k.a. Sandra Clarke, places the fateful call to the Feds saying she feels threatened, mostly out of boredom, she has no idea how truely threatened she really is.

I found this book hard to put down.  I thought that the characters were very believable and well written.  I also thought the premise for the story was intriguing and thanks to the great writing by the author, made the story jump off the pages.

And finally, the twist at the end lets the story end the way it needed to.  Suddenly.  As the reason for Lord Byron’s quote in the beginning of the book become very apparent. 

This was a great debut for the author and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Bravo!

David Cristofano has earned degrees in Government and Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for different branches of the Federal Government for over a decade.  His short works have been published by Like Water Burning and McSweeneysHe currently works in the Washington D.C. area where he lives with his wife, son and daughter.  THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE  is his first novel.


Thanks so much to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending this ARC to me for review!

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