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review 2017-03-07 11:40
Close Enough To Touch
Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

By:  Colleen Oakley


Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: 3/7/2017

Format: Other 

My Rating:  5 Stars


Talented storyteller, Colleen Oakley returns following her smashing debut, Before I Go (2015) with her latest poignant love story, CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH – full of emotion, readers will laugh and cry and fall in love with the memorable characters.

“ . . . Love is messy. It doesn’t come to us in a perfect box all wrapped up in a bow. It’s more like a gift from a child, crayon-scrawled and crumpled. Imperfect. But always a gift just the same.”

Jubilee Jenkins did not wake up one morning and think she was going to become a recluse. She is allergic to other people.

Born in 1989 to a single mother, she was the typical infant, and it wasn’t until she was three the issues began. Starting with hives and welts to hospital emergency room visits, and advancing to an EpiPen and anaphylaxis. The physicians were perplexed.

When she was six years old, she was diagnosed with type IV contact dermatitis to foreign human skin cells. She is allergic to other people. The only one of a handful of people in the history of the world with the same condition. Rare.

She explodes in welts and hives when someone else’s skin touches hers. Anaphylaxis if she came into oral contact with another human (kissing). She almost died. A boy kissed her. The tongue swelled and throat closed.

Then three months later her mom married Lenny a gas station owner, packed a bag, and left. Sending checks, Jubilee has not left her home in nine years. She felt like a freak. Making do with ordering her food and receiving her education sitting at home online.

Her worst nightmare. Her mom dies, now she is forced to leave her home in order, to support herself. She is terrified. She needs money. She must find a job. How will she leave her home and remain safe?

She finds work at the library and meets Eric Keegan. Eric is divorced and having a problem communicating with his children. An estranged teenage daughter, Ellie and adopted son Aja.

Jubilee will soon become connected with this family in so many ways, on so many levels. Will she ever be able to have a normal human contact relationship? An experimental cure? Would it be too much to hope for? Can she fall in love for the first time at age 28?



What a delightful story and what a fabulous front cover! Can you imagine a life without touch? Three wounded souls connect in unexpected ways.

From Oakley’s debut and her background before becoming a novelist — a health journalist, having written a few articles about allergies, among many other topics, I love her insights and interest in the medical field, which is always intriguing to me since I read everything I can get my hands on and continued research when it comes to allergies.

She integrates newsworthy topics into modern contemporary family lives, allowing her characters to come alive on the pages. Interesting, absorbing, and compelling. Plus enjoy her writing style. For fans of Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, Lisa Genova, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Diane Chamberlain, and Jo Jo Moyes.

As Oakley mentions in her recent interview with Atlanta Magazine:

“The burden of responsibility as a parent is already really high, but when your kids have food allergies, it is a constant 24/7 level of vigilance. It’s already terrifying to let your kids out into the world, but knowing that something as little as a peanut or an egg could end their life, and you’re the sole person responsible for that, is really heavy.”

All too true, sadly enough, most people are not educated as to the life-threatening consequences of one single ingredient in a food.

On a side note:
What a timely topic and one I am well versed on. Allergies are quite the mystery. Their triggers can change without rhyme or reason. From welts, hives, and Anaphylaxis numerous times, over foods, additives, chemicals, environmental toxins, and especially, medications of any sort. One drop of cream on your skin, and it can happen. Equipped with Benadryl and an EpiPen, at all times.

I can only imagine how difficult this may be for parents with children they have to protect. When they are at school or at friend’s homes, away from their controlled environment. Many times it is frustrating, as people do not take allergies serious (especially restaurant staff, friends, and the overall hospitality, and medical industry) unless you have been through the nightmare yourself or someone close to you.

I do love my Atlanta authors! Highly recommend both books- an author to follow.

A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.





Allergic to human touch? Colleen Oakley’s latest novel explores the idea

We chatted with the metro Atlanta author about her inspiration for the novel about an intriguing imaginary medical condition

March 2017

Colleen OakleyColleen Oakley


Try to imagine your life without touch. No hugs or kisses (or sex), but also no brushing hands with the cashier as you pay for your deli sandwich, no handshakes at business meetings, no shoulder rubs with strangers in a packed MARTA train. In her new book, Close Enough to Touch, metro Atlanta novelist Colleen Oakley considers the practical and emotional ramifications of such a life. We recently chatted with Oakley about her inspiration for the book.


Read More Atlanta Magazine






Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/03/Close-Enough-to-Touch
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review 2017-03-06 15:00
Close Enough to Touch/Colleen Oakley
Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

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...

An evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.


Though strange, this was a sweet book with an ending I adored that kept me engaged.


The concept of a woman who is allergic to people was quite fascinating, and I was impressed by the amount of research the author must have done in order to gain an understanding of the topic. It felt well researched and the challenges seemed quite realistic. I wasn't quite as skeptical of everything as I thought I would be.


I expected that there would be more to learn from this book than there was. Jubilee adjusted surprisingly well to society, and where I thought there would be more conflict, quite a few things went well for her. The biggest conflict was indeed the romance which seemed like a bit of a lost opportunity.


Eric's son was probably my favourite character of the book--though a middle school aged boy, he was an absolute delight and I was amused by his interactions with various characters. I think there was a lot to be gained by seeing his relationships with the adults and how they interacted with him. I also loved Jubilee's friend and the way their acquaintance evolved.


The ending of this was superbly written. Unlike other romances, I was never quite sure exactly how it would end, but it did a lovely job of wrapping up previous aspects of the story and bringing them together.


I recommend this to those looking for a chick-flick read with a little more depth.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-01-30 20:03
Close Enough To Touch
Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

Title: Close Enough to Touch
Author: Colleen Oakley
Publisher: Art to Artist, LLC.
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four

"Close Enough to Touch" by Colleen Oakley

My Thoughts....

What a unique story this was of a Jubilee Jenkins being allergic to actual human contact and not leaving her home for nine years [living like a hermit]. However, after the death of her mother Jubilee will be forced to the outside world to get a job. It was quite interesting as she will meet old and new people and also develop a romance, however Jubilee will not be able to touch. What will happen when she meets this 'precocious little boy Aja [saving him and almost dying herself] and his father Eric? It was quite interesting how this author brings Eric into the picture being a divorced father who was dealing with a lot of his own issues. My, how I liked how Jubilee who had cut herself off from the world could be there to help Eric especially in that part of being able to help him connect with his children. I found this author really works her magic with some of those sensual scenes of how these two were able to show their love for each other. But is this to be for these two? I will say the ending wasn't what I would have expected, however it did fit this story completion giving the reader a good read of 'depth, humor, tension, warmth, romance, parental guilt, development, fear and emotion.' How will this story end? Will there be a HEA? Well, this is where I say you will have to pick up the good read to see how this author brings its all out so very well to the readers. Was this story a little predictable at times? Yes, but it still was a good interesting warm intriguing read.


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review 2017-01-16 15:52
Close Enough To Touch: a Novel
Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

Definitely pick up this novel to read this year as it is one that should not be overlooked. Colleen Oakley’s writing was spectacular as I was completely immersed into the character of Jubilee and her “condition.” Avoiding contact with other humans, Jubilee remained housebound for years, one close encounter with death was all that she needed to realize that isolation was the best option that she had. Jubilee did not waste this time while she was alone, she saw options and took advantage of them. Jubilee was a bright, young woman with a “condition.”


Her life changes when her mother passes away and Jubilee realizes that she cannot hide in the house any longer. This woman, who was resourceful, will now have to venture outside the threshold of her doorway. I walked the walk with Jubilee as she saw the vast blue sky up above her, as she saw the crowds of people and mapped her way around them and how she tried to hide amongst the many who she thought were staring at her yet she could not get close to them. Her world which was once limited to the walls inside her mother’s house has now increased and the people, the opportunities and the obstacles are limitless. I laughed as she made her way into her new surroundings, I cried (actually, I bawled a few times) as I was so overcome with emotions and I cheered for her as she finally became the person she was hiding in the house. This was definitely one of my hair-dryer novels, one that I just couldn’t put down and one, that I hope you will enjoy also.


“I am going to suffocate you.” (I don’t like to quote ARC’s but this line……marvelous, simply marvelous!)


I received a copy of this novel from Gallery Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-10-05 12:00
Grab Your Tissues, You'll Need Them For This Book
Before I Go - Colleen Oakley

Note: I've put off posting this particular review, not because of the book--which was incredible--but because I now have a better understanding of part of what the main character Daisy went through. I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2015, about seven months after reading this book so it's bittersweet to see my thoughts on Daisy's journey, now knowing what I do about surgery, treatments, and the emotional toll it takes on those involved. So...I was lucky. Mine was found early and I've been cancer free for almost a year now. But for those of you who have dealt with the disease or have loved ones who have, you know that niggling sense of fear over a recurrence never goes away. And as such, I would be remiss not to forewarn you that this will be one heck of an emotional novel for you to try to get through...



What an emotional journey we take in this piece of women’s fiction. Before I Go was an honest look into Daisy’s life as she dealt with a devastating diagnosis and tried to find a way to take care of her beloved husband Jack after she was gone.

‘Then I wonder, if I knew it would turn out the same, would I want to do it all over again? This life. This body. This Lots of Cancer. I think of Jack. And I realize I knew the answer before I had fully thought the questions: Yes. I would.’

I’ll admit as I’m writing this review that I’m still a bit of an emotional wreck having just finished reading Daisy and Jack’s story. For anyone who has ever lost someone close to them from this horrible disease or who has been affected by it in any way…this book will be an emotional roller-coaster for you. But I am so glad I read it. Because even though as a reader I knew what the outcome would be for Daisy, there were some extremely touching, beautifully lighthearted moments mixed in with the poignant heartbreaking scenes.


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