304 pages (Hardcover) ~ Literary Fiction/Romance
April 2nd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.
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 reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.
I read The Girl I Used to Know in one sitting. These two characters captured my heart from the start and would not let go. At first, it seemed to be following the typical trope of a college couple reuniting after years apart, but this story became anything but typical. Reading this book was an emotional, heartwarming, and inspiring experience for me.
The writing is really smart and thoughtful. The story alternates between Annika’s and Jonathan’s perspectives and between two different time periods- both characters have their own unique voice that is true to their character. Their voices change and grow over the years and really shows the full arc of their characters. Getting to read the unique perspective and understanding of Annika- who is on the autism spectrum- really endeared me toward her. It was really heartwarming to see her grow over the course of the novel and command more agency in her own life. I absolutely fell in love with her character- crying when she was struggling and rooting for her success. It was heartbreaking to read, but also really refreshing and inspiring at the same time.
“I remember feeling stunned when Tina explained that most people draw these conclusions instantaneously, without any extra analysis at all. How amazing but also heartbreaking, because I’ll never be one of them.”Annika
- The support that Annika receives from those that love her- her parents, Janice, her brother, and Jonathan- really shows that it is not about those that try to bring you down for your differences, but the precious few that love you because of your differences.
“I’m trying to explain that the way you navigate the world will never be more important than the type of person you are.” Jonathan
My only complaint was that the climax and resolution both seemed a little rushed. I wanted the long, super sappy, drawn-out ending, but I was still really happy with the ending overall. This story has a powerful and heartwarming message that I think will resonate with everyone. It hits bookstores on April 2nd!!
For more information on Tracey Garvis Graves and her books, check her out on Goodreads.
Note: I received an E-ARC of The Girl He Used to Know from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.