Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
Jubilee Jenkins almost died just weeks before her graduation from high school. Since that time she has spent her days locked in her house taking courses online, reading tons of books and never ever leaving the house. One day, ten years later, her mom’s husband calls to let Jubilee know that her mother has passed away and while he’ll be paying off the house and deeding it to Jubilee he will be stopping the monthly checks that were sent while her mother was living. Suddenly Jubilee is faced with the horror of entering the outside world and finding a source of income. But she had a good reason to lock herself away from the world. The reason she almost died ten years ago? Her first kiss. She is highly allergic to human touch. The mere brush of a hand will cause painful welts and hives and oral contact, as was proven in high school, will cause anaphylaxis.
Jubilee gets a job at the local library through an acquaintance, a girl (now a woman, divorcee and a mother) she thought hated her in high school. Jubilee gets to know her co-workers and some of the regular patrons. At the library she meets Eric and his ten-old adoptive son Aja and through interesting circumstances begins spending time with the duo. Jubilee is exactly who Aja needs right now and Eric is beginning to think he needs Jubilee as well. But how does one go about being in love with a woman you can never touch?
This is the story of one scared woman re-entering the world and learning to live among other people, forming friendships and falling in love, but knowing that she must always hold herself apart. The story is told in the alternating perspectives of Eric and Jubilee and while Jubilee is working through a lot of problems they all center around her allergy while Eric’s problems seem to be messier since he came to New Jersey for a temporary job transfer not just for the opportunity but to leave some of his mess behind.
This is a fun book with a serious side which never overwhelms the humor and lightheartedness of the writing style and of the personality of the characters. The best part? The ending. I’m not going to ruin it for you.