ABOUT THE BOOK:
Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds
Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game--and his heart--to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.
Now, a decade later, fate
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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.
A tender, second chance at love story-
Annika and Jonathan met in college via the chess club back in 1991. They gradually fall deeply in love, despite Annika’s social anxiety, which is coupled with a plethora of other little quirks.
Jonathan is just absolutely the most patient and sweet guy, most of the time, but without fully understanding Annika’s social miscues there are a few misunderstandings along the way. Yet, they manage to make it work and are looking forward to building a future together.
Obviously, something went horribly awry, however, because as the story opens, it is now 2001, and Annika and Jonathan haven’t seen one another for ten years. They bump into one another at the grocery store of all places, and Annika seizes the opportunity to prove to Jonathan that she is not the girl he used to know-
I got caught up in this story instantly. Annika’s character is so earnest and sincere, I couldn’t help but root for her. But I loved Jonathan too, although, almost by default, his character remains a bit muted. Yet, the author most assuredly did this by design, as the reader is most likely so focused on Annika, Jonathan’s emotional needs often feel secondary, or even trite. Yet, it is entirely possible that the book is just as much about Jonathan as it is Annika.
There is so much to love about this book. It is important too, in many ways, as well. Knowing early on when someone falls within the spectrum is crucial, and there was a time when no such testing was available. But, while I appreciate the attention the book brings to these issues, at the end of the day, this is a second chance at love story, which is one my favorite romantic tropes. I’m a sucker for it and fall for it every single time.
One does have to suspend belief a bit towards the end, but I still found Annika’s determination to prove her mettle in keeping with the book’s theme. A concerted effort on her part to give Jonathan what he needs in a relationship, is why the title of the book is so fitting, and well, that’s kind of the point, when you get right down to it. Perhaps it was a little overly dramatic- but come on- it was very effective and kept me riveted to the pages, afraid to even exhale.
Overall, this is a very touching novel, with all the great themes a love story should have, but is also a story of personal growth, compromise, friendship, family.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.