Close Enough to Touch

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Apr 2017

Member Reviews

This was such a beautiful read. I'd never really heard much of the condition described in the synopsis so it had me intrigued and I''m so glad it did because I was so swept up in this gorgeous story.
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A story of a young woman who chases death as she discovers the inability to have contact with people. 

The desire to have a physical connection is essential for most people. When that is taken away from Jubilee will she risk it to save a life? 

A fictional story tackling real-life issues. Allergies can be debilitating, life-changing, and lead to sudden loss.

If you're looking for a story that delves into facing fears, living with something you can't control and the hope that humanity will change it's views on those who are different check out this story.
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I kept trying to get into this book and for whatever reason just couldn't. I thought it was a cute enough story but I didn't ever really connect with the characters.
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I have a lot of allergies. Perfumes, lotions, all sorts of fragrances can make my throat swell up and leave me itchy and rashy–even when I’m not the one wearing the fragrance. I’m also allergic to dust mites, all sorts of plants, and several medications, so it’s all sorts of fun trying to narrow down what I’ve been exposed to when an allergic reaction hits. But my allergies are nothing compared to Jubilee Jenkins in Close Enough To Touch, Colleen Oakley’s second novel. Jubilee can’t come into contact with another person’s skins cells without breaking out into hives or suffering anaphylactic shock., and she’s been that way all her life.

Jubilee’s life has never been normal, from when she was finally diagnosed as being allergic to other people as a young child, to being raised by a single mother who seemed to pull away from Jubilee as she grew older and moved more towards her boyfriends that she could touch, to her near fatal first kiss at age 18. After that brush with death, Jubilee became a recluse and didn’t return to school for the few remaining weeks of her senior year, and she didn’t leave her house for the next nine years–not when her mother moved to another city to live with a new boyfriend and get married, not even to shop for food. But when her mother unexpectedly passes away, the money that was coming monthly to support Jubilee dries up, and she doesn’t have a way to pay the bills anymore. She now has to venture out into the real world, and find a way to make a living with no real experience while trying to never make physical contact with anyone.

Jubilee finally goes outside of her house and meets an old acquaintance from high school. Madison is able to get Jubilee a job as a librarian, and through this job Jubilee meets Eric Keegan–a newly divorced father who has an adopted 10-year-old son who’s brilliant, imaginative, but a bit troubled. While Jubilee adjusts to being in the outside world, Eric slowly works his way into her life along with his son Aja through their love of books. While Aja never questions Jubilee’s keeping her distance since he doesn’t like being touched either, Eric never thinks to ask why she wears gloves all the time. Their friendship blooms and turns into something more, but there’s a limit to what can be since they can never touch.

Colleen Oakley captured Jubilee’s anxiety, her hopes and fears so perfectly. She’s used to being abandoned and left alone, so it’s very jarring and unnatural for her to be out interacting with other people. But she makes friends with her coworkers, with Madison, and even with Aja. You get to know Jubilee well since half of the book is in her point of view, but there’s also portions that are from Eric’s POV as well.

Eric is a bit of a mystery to Jubilee, but she knows that she looks forward to seeing him every day. Eric’s got a lot on his plate, having just moved to town for a six month temporary job filling in at his company’s branch. His teenage daughter won’t talk to him and his ex-wife blames him for their divorce. His adopted son is awkward and closed off. Eric is a bit uptight and stubborn himself, and he’s not able to read people all that well. But he meets this beautiful, awkward woman at the library, and she just takes his breath away, and more importantly–Aja likes her and begins to open up to her. It doesn’t take long before he’s smitten.

I give Close Enough To Touch a five out of five. I could relate to Jubilee quite a bit, and I found myself rooting for her as she took all of the big steps in her life. Even though she’d been a shut in for nine years, she was still optimistic and practical, and I really enjoyed reading about her life. The secondary characters were all unique and fun, especially the head librarian Louise. Having worked in a library during my college years, I laughed a lot when Louise described the regulars they have in the library. Louise was definitely a fun character. Close Enough To Touch was touching, emotional, heartbreaking at times, but uplifting as well. I highly recommend this book!
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of Close Enough to Touch.

Jubilee has been a shut in for ten years.  For ten years she cut herself off from the world, ordering her food online and having very little contact with anyone.  Why?  Because Jubilee struggles with a very uncommon allergy, she is allergic to people.

After Jubilee's mother dies, and she realizes that a steady income will no longer be coming in, Jubilee forces herself out into the real world to get a job.  As luck would have it, she gets a job at a library and meets the tragic and handsome Eric, who has an adopted son, and a teen daughter who won't speak to them.  Through a series of events, Jubilee and Eric form a complicated relationship.  How can you fully be with someone if you can't touch them?  And even if there was a cure, is it worth the risk of heartbreak?

I have to be honest, I am not a huge fan of romances, but I really did enjoy this one.  I liked how each character not only went through a lot together, but also had to confront a lot of things on their own in order to be ready for a relationship.  I would recommend it.
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Jubilee Jenkins is allergic to people. Really allergic as in any contact can land her in a medical crisis and if she doesn’t receive attention she can die. So she’s alienated herself from most people including her mom. Unfortunately when her mother dies Jubilee has to find a way to earn a living and actually go out into the world she’s kept at bay for so long.

Luck is on her side when she runs into an acquaintance from high school and she helps Jubilee find a job at the library. While the world is a bit scary and Jubilee is now having to talk to strangers on a regular basis, little by little she finds herself adjusting to her new life. Sure people may stare at her in her gloves, which she uses to avoid human contact, but at least she’s making the effort.

Meanwhile someone else making an adjustment is Eric Keegan. He’s separated from his wife, his teen daughter won’t speak to him and he’s now the guardian of a little boy whose parents have died and who happens to want to amass powers like those of Magneto from the X-Men. Still Eric is hopeful that he just needs time to figure out how to get everything on track again but after he meets Jubilee at the library things will never be the same for these sweet characters.

Of course there are some scary moments before Eric finds out he cannot just reach out and touch Jubilee and lots of angst for both Jubilee and Eric as sometimes they just want to go back to the way things were but ultimately the pair proves that we all long for some connection. Whether it be the romantic kind or just to know that you have friends or family rooting for you.

There was one slight issue I had with the novel and that was with the ending but I don’t want to spoil this for anyone but if you are looking for a sweet, romantic novel give this one a chance.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Gallery/Threshold/Pocket Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This was truly an endearing book full of quirky yet likable characters. Jubilee has an allergy to the human touch and has been living the life of a recluse for almost 10 years. After her mother passes away and she is cut off financially from the money she had been receiving from her, she is forced to face her fears and venture out into the world to find a job. Into her life comes Eric, who is dealing with problems of his own with his adopted son and a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking with him.
Jubilee and Eric start to get involved in each others lives, but Jubilee struggles with that given how his touch could kill her, yet she finds herself yearning for connection. This was a truly unique story filled with characters that you can connect with and root for.
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This is a wonderful emotional story of a young woman who has to lead her life around a terrible allergy.  For years Jubilee has been a recluse, staying away from the thing that could kill her, direct contact with a fellow human being.  When her mother dies, she decides that she needs to get out into the real world and becomes a librarian.  She meets Eric and his two children who help propel her back into real life.  Jubilee grows and finds that great advances have been made in medicine but wonders if she is emotionally ready for too much human contact.  This story is about life and a woman charting her own course.  Jubilee seeks to understand why people would want to help her and building trust is an important part of this book.  I also like the fact that Eric has some chapters that gives a male perspective to their relationship.  I loved Ms. Oakley's previous book, Before I go.
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I loved this book. I cannot imagine not being able to be hugged or touched.. This concept of developing a relationship between people who cannot touch is no small feat, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Eric and Jubilee explore each other. loved that the ending is unexpected and leaves you with questions. I loved the extraordinary medical condition that becomes a foundation for the author to write about the universal experience of human connection in a vivid and compassionate way. Best of all, it's a love story loaded with awkward moments and plenty of longing .
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Cloistered at home after a boy’s kiss almost kills her, Jubilee is a medical oddity: violently allergic to human touch. But when her mom dies, she’s forced to find a job, landing at the public library. There Jubilee meets a single father and his adopted son and Oakley’s offbeat and tenderhearted love story soars.
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Can you imagine being in a world where you can have no physical contact with any other human being? This is the world Jubilee Jenkins lives in. She is allergic to any human contact. A mere kiss from a boy in school, sent her almost to her death. But that’s not the only thing that is missing in her life, her mother left her when she was young to live alone in their family home. Jubilee has pretty much been a hermit for most of her life. When she gets word that her mother has died and her stepfather will not be sending her any money, the house will be hers free and clear, she has to venture out into the real world. She has become agoraphobic. She hasn’t had any contact even verbally with anyone. She stumbles across her old school nemesis who gets her a job at the library. It is a whole new world for Jubilee.

We also have Eric, who has moved to town for six months with this adopted son Aja. Aja has so many issues since the loss of his parents and Eric is still dealing with his teenage daughter Ellie and how she doesn’t want anything to do with him.

When these three people stumble across each other, their lives will change in ways that none of them could imagine.

This book will definitely tug at your heartstrings. My heart broke for the kind of life that Jubilee lead for all those years. She really had no life at all. I love how Ms. Oakley wrote her with such care and made her so multi-dimensional, not just some scared woman. She was fully thought out.  She could break your heart and in the next turn, make you laugh.  I had a few problems with Eric. He seemed pretty stuck in his own world and not open to listening for quite a while. He did grow on me after a bit. And Aja, poor sweet Aja. You just knew that he was hiding something that was making him do what he was doing. This is one of those books that you will remember for a while and that ending!
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I loved Colleen Oakley’s first book, so I was excited to read this one too. Jubilee Jenkins was born with an allergy to other people and after her mom moved away she became a hermit (this was actually embarrassingly relatable to me! I would totally do that). Suddenly forced to get a job, she quickly is thrown into new relationships. This book was very heart-warming and funny. I only wish there could have been a little more to the ending, which felt a little rushed to me.
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'Close Enough to Touch" is an absolutely fabulous novel. I loved the way Colleen portrayed all three of the main characters, Jubilee, Eric and Aja. Even though there is great sadness relating to the disease that Jubilee had, Colleen was able to  intersperse humor into the story, making for a great read. From the first page to the last page, I enjoyed every word. What a surprise ending and remember to have tissue available when you finish the book. So sorry the story had to end, I could have kept reading for days. I am looking forward to Colleen's next book.
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Very interesting and relatable characters. I didn't want it to end.
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The novelist tackles the complexity of human touch — or the lack thereof.

What happens when the characters we love literally cannot get near the ones they love? In her new novel, Close Enough to Touch, Colleen Oakley explores this unimaginable possibility via her main character, Jubilee Jenkins, who suffers a rare condition that makes her allergic to any kind of human touch. The only thing that gives her happiness is a library job, where she meets divorced father Eric Keegan, a man wrestling with demons of his own.

How did you get the idea for this novel?

As a health journalist for the past 15 years, I was always perplexed by the astronomic rise in allergies from the late ’90s on — and how strange some of them are. There’s a 15-year-old boy who’s allergic to literally every food. A woman allergic to water. A man who’s allergic to technology (and not in the “I have no idea how to use a smartphone” way that my mother is). As a novelist, I wanted to delve into the allergy epidemic, but take it one step further — what if you were allergic to other people? How would that affect someone, emotionally, to not ever be able to be hugged by his or her mother as a child, or to hold hands with their first love? Could you even fall in love?

What was it about the writing and researching process for Close Enough to Touch that you found most challenging?

Creating a love story where the main characters can’t touch each other. I knew it would be a challenge — but I had no idea just how difficult it would be!

Jubilee has an inner struggle when it comes to seeking medical help for her condition. Is this fear related to her conflicted relationship with her mother?

I think it definitely stems from that relationship — her insecurities [about] whether or not she’s lovable, when she’s not even convinced that her own mother loved her.

Eric also has his own demons. Would you say that, for him, Jubilee is the catalyst in forcing him to face his fears?

Yeah, I think they definitely help each other, sometimes without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.

Which character did you most connect with while writing the novel?

I connected with Jubilee’s insecurities and fear of being vulnerable (haven’t we all felt like that at some point?), but I also connected with Eric’s fears of being a terrible parent. As a mom myself, there are so many days where I just wonder if I’m messing everything up.

You finish the novel in a sort of open-ended finale. Did you have this particular outcome planned when you started the book?

No! I wasn’t always sure exactly how this would end. But when I hit on that ending, it just felt right and true-to-life to me. Satisfying without being neatly tied up in a bow.

What new projects are you working on?

I’m in the early stages of a book about soulmates — and whether true love is a choice or fate.
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I felt so bad for Jubilee for the majority of this book, but her development was endearing. The ending was a a little bittersweet, but I liked that everything didn't magically get better right away and there was a struggle period.
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Great feel-good story. Very well balanced sentimentality. I loved that everything was too tidy. Every story needs messiness.
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Close enough to Touch is the perfect women's fiction novel - one with heart, interesting quirky characters and true complicated and hard feelings. Loved Jubilee and Eric but I had some frustrations with Aja. I tend to find children characters a little annoying at times. But, still would recommend to women's fiction readers.
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