The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano

Book Journey traveled to:  Delmarva Peninsula, Cape Charles

When in Cape Charles, the place to be is the Cape Charles Coffee House

241 Pages

Cover Story:  It fits, although one of the girls in my book club pointed out that our main character Melody never used a suitcase…

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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.

As this book opens, Melody is bored with her current life as Sandra Clarke.  Having spent 20 years being tossed through the Witness protection program from place to place and name to name.  Melody has made no connections in her current surroundings and calls the agent in charge of her case with a claim that someone has identified her and she needs to be moved again.

Turns out – Melody really does have someone from the mafia following her and this is where this fast paced book gets interesting.  Between Sean the good-looking Witness Protection Agent and the mysteriously handsome Johnathan who is the son of the mafia family who wants her dead, Melody learns how to grow up fast.

The book is a fun light read.  I personally never really warmed up to Melody.  Time and again she causes others to be put in dangerous situations including the role she even plays in the death of her parents.  (My book club was easier on her character than I was).

Overall I enjoyed this book.


This was our book club read for May.  The Bookies for the most part enjoyed the book.  We had a potluck at my house around the foods that were in the book which made for a delicious variety of Italian treats.   We discussed the witness protection program and how far it has come.

The group had more sympathy for Melody than I did.  I found her actions to be annoying and childish.  While many in the group found her to be  a victim of circumstance.  By the end of the book we all agreed that Melody was on her way to being a better and more secure adult.

In a suitcase I had everyone drop in their new witness protection name and where they would be located.  Then we drew them out and guessed who was who.  There were some great ideas in there.  Amy in our group had found a website that generated mafia names and that was interesting too.

I received my copy of this book from Hachette Book Group

30 thoughts on “The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano

  1. I came across this book at my local library and checked it out on a whim. I was pleasantly surprised and thought that it was a fairly good read too. I hadn’t thought of it as a choice for a book club so I appreciate hearing about what your book club thought of it and what you did & discussed. I’ll keep this in mind for book clubs that I attend where we choose our reads. Thanks!

    1. NO problem Julie. My book club has 18 people in it so I try to think of extra things we can do to keep us all engaged. It is sometimes just silly – but we do always have fun 🙂

  2. Sounds like a good summer read – interesting, entertaining, a little suspenseful.
    Thanks for the review.

  3. I’ve noticed this one around. Now I’m really intrigued, as this one sounds like an intriguing twist on the usual story about Witness Protection.

    Nice review…and I wish I’d been in the book club for the food!

  4. Imagine living a life like that. Never really being yourself and constantly changing your identity. It must be awful for those who have to live like that.

  5. I enjoyed hearing how your book group “celebrated” a discussion book with foods connected to the theme of the book. Isn’t a wonderful thing to “agree to disagree” with a group of people during book discussion? Wonderful learning and new insights for all…

    1. Linda it really is! I think that is one of the things I really enjoy about our group. One of the girls Lynne, recently told me that sometimes our discussion is so good it raises her opinion of the book.

  6. Sheila, I love reading your book group posts. You were creative this time and it sounds like a lot of fun was had by all. I wish we did food at my groups, but they are library sponsored and so that’s not really the focus. I’ve seen this book around and I didn’t realize that it had the witness protection angle. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

    1. Kay, we only do food like this when we have a home meeting. Each member gets a month where they pick where we meet. Most times we meet in restaurants… I dont know why they became dinner related now that I think about it, but they just kind of morphed that way! 🙂

  7. I have seen this around and I’m still very interested in reading it! I’m glad the bookies had fun…you’ll have to share the mafia name generator next time!

    1. Loren we do have a great group. With 18 people I had to be a freaze on newbies coming in and I hated doing that but we were outgrowing places to gather. Its a humbling feeling to know that there are people waiting to get into our group. I wish I could accommodate them – even considered starting a second group, but I dont think it would be the same… 🙂

  8. I reviewed this book last year and enjoyed it. Your book group sounds like a lot of fun! I love matching the foods to the book – a couple of friends and I sometimes try to do that by going out for dinner together before book group. And how fun to come up with your own Witness Protection names and relocations! Hmmm…maybe I should shake up our group a little!


    1. Sue, as the group got bigger I found I needed to be a bit more creative in our reviews to hold everyones interest and keep us on track. We all love it and it does add to the reviews.

      The down side is that each of the 18 in our group love to talk about book club and what we do and there are many others who would love to join us. I had to put a freeze on the group in January because we are just too big to find places to meet. I hate to do that and wish we could accommodate everyone but thats not the case 🙂

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