XOXperts Review | Close Enough to Touch by Coleen Oakley

Title: Close Enough to Touch
Author: Colleen Oakley
Genre: Women's Fiction | Contemporary Romance | Chick-lit
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 306
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: XOXO After Dark

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died... 

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition...

Close Enough to Touch is an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.

Why haven’t I heard about Colleen Oakley before? I feel as though I’ve been missing out on a majestic creature of writing and storytelling.
So many emotions surged through me as I read this novel. None of which I had expected, because what initially drew me to it was the quirky, colorful cover. Then the synopsis intrigued me with such a complex character.

I loved the style in which Oakley writes. It has an effortless flow that doesn’t come off as trying too hard to be anything or make the reader feel a certain way. The beginning is broken up well enough to give a good background on Jubilee and help the reader understand her situation. It’s heartbreaking to say the least. 
A diagnosis of a rare allergy to human touch explained why Jubilee nearly died after a boy kissed her for the first time. Even touching something that had ‘prolonged contact’ with another person can cause a rash on her skin.
Her dependence on her mother to pay for whatever she needed comes to an abrupt halt when she passes away. Jubilee is suddenly forced to find ways to start living instead of just existing. Through that process, she learns to experience people in new ways and finds strength that she never even considered possessing. 

Eric’s story is also told as he journeys—and struggles—through divorced, single parent life. It’s hard not to instantly fall for this single dad as he cares for his children; especially his adopted son, Aja.
Eric and Jubilee have cute and awkward interactions. They have a very true romance in the way that it slowly progresses with a natural ease.

CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH is a feel-good, heartwarming novel that portrays relatable flawed characters. A poignant novel that contains all of the best components of a favorite read.

Colleen Oakley’s debut novel BEFORE I GO was a People Magazine Best New Book Pick in January 2015, an Us Weekly “Must” Pick, a Publisher’s Lunch Buzz Book, a January 2015 Indie Next List Pick and deemed “an impressive feat…an immensely entertaining, moving, and believable read” by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Formerly the senior editor of Marie Claire and editor-in-chief of Women’s Health & Fitness, Colleen’s articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, four kids and the world's biggest lapdog, Bailey. Her second novel CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH will be published by Simon & Schuster in April 2017.