The Girl He Used to Knowby Tracey Garvis Graves Published 02 Apr 2019
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|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
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Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way - she just can't read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others.
Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn't seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she's not sure he'll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.
Annika Rose likes being alone.
Except that, actually, she doesn't like being alone at all.
"The Girl He Used to Know" Reviews
“Are you going to kiss me?”
He laughed. “I was planning on it, yes.”
“Okay. I’m ready.”
While I enjoyed witnessing this story unfold and truly appreciate how Graves approached certain themes within this book, my true determination to reach the last page was because of the beautiful flower we meet called Annika Rose.
While yes, this is a romance novel filled with all the kisses and warm moments you'd want in one... I'd like to think this was more-so a story of hope. Hope for a strange and gorgeously odd girl that never really got the manual for life. I loved the way we saw Annika find herself and grow through the years and tears.
This story begins with Annika meeting her ex-college boyfriend Jonathan. At the start, we don't know why they split up or why this is the first time they are seeing each other after ten years but we know that somehow, it foreshadows to Annika's fault. Which after finishing this book, I can most confidently say that Annika deserves so much better.
"But I will call. I’ll apologize. Ask him if we can start over. “Clean slate,” I’ll say.
Such is my desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I’ve become."
The story itself moves from past to present POV's from both Jonathan and Annika. We watch as their love unfolds and Annika becomes someone she is proud of. I won't give away too much, and really I think it's better if you go into this one blind. Although there were a lot of sub plots and story arcs, I felt like it was easy enough to follow.
“Where do we start?” I ask.
Will smiles. “I’ve always found the beginning to be a good place.”
Before I address the parts that I felt really took away the magic of the story. I'm going to go through the parts that I really adored. I struggled to decide whether I should give this a 2 or 3 star rating and am still hesitant. Maybe as this review writes itself, I'll find out my final answer ;)
Firstly, Annika has my whole heart at the moment and I am not afraid to throw down anyone who says she isn't the purest angel. She is kind and warmhearted towards everything and although she may not understand the world around her, she knows love. Annika was truly the winning piece in this story and I felt so comfortable reading her POV. It felt like being inside her head with all the weird fragmentations and beautifully blunt observations.
Secondly, Janice. Janice was the kick ass, bad ass girlfriend that everyone needs in their life. Especially through college when everything feels like it's constantly changing and you can't keep up. I really enjoyed that the author put in a girl advocating another girl instead of bringing her down trope. It makes my heart sing whenever I see cliches like that kicked to the curb.
Now... for Jonathan.
My mother warned me about men like him.
"His touch grounded me and made me feel as if nothing bad could ever happen as long as Jonathan had ahold of my hand."
I would really like to say that he was selfless, mindful of Annika's health and disorder, loving and noble. In truth, we were made to believe he was. However, reaching the end of the novel and watching everything come to light, I saw a wolf in sheep's clothing. The whole time we think that Annika did something, and without giving anything away - she went through such hard shit in her life and continues to blame herself for everything. Then enters Jonathan, who all but doesn't want to give her a "second chance" because he agrees!?!?
Next comes the dialogue and trust between the two of them. By the second half of the book, it truly came across that Jonathan felt like he was just settling. Annika loved him way more than he did her and it really fleshed out that way. We saw her constantly battling to be a better version of herself and there comes a point in the book when Jonathan all but tells her that he may never find his perfect girl, so Annika is good enough.
This man frustrated the living fuck out of me. He was selfish and under the surface manipulative. He reminded me of a lot of toxic people that wear a mask in order to pretend they are actually fucking living light. Every time I thought there would be some sort of redemption and justice, he went and mentioned how pretty she was.
"There’s something about having a pretty girl on your arm and knowing she’s into you that makes you feel like showing her off.”
Having read Graves previous work "On the Island," I have really come to enjoy her simple yet subtly poetic writing. I loved that this wasn't a magic dick syndrome story or another "love can cure me" one either. It showed how important it is to take hold of your own life regardless of who you want to please or who you want to be with.
Overall, I enjoyed some of the warm moments that this story had to offer, but I wish there was more. Thinking now, I feel like this is a 2.5 stars, all because of Annika and the way she held herself and her dialogue. The other half of the rating was lost due to the endless amounts of sub-plots and Jonathan. Because fuck him.
Sweet read about first love, heartbreak, and second chances.
Annika and Jonathan first met while in college in 1991. Annika, awkward, shy, and socially inept, has trouble connecting people. She is on the spectrum, but it is 1991 and Autism was not a common diagnosis. Annika struggles during her time as an undergraduate. She has one close friend and spends a lot of her time in solitude. When she is partnered up with Jonathan during a chess game, Jonathan sees her in a different light than others. They eventually begin dating and have an intense romance.
Fast forward to 2001--Annika lives in Chicago and is working at her dream job at a library. A random shopping excursion at a grocery store, she runs into Jonathan. They broke up 10 years ago, but the reader isn’t aware of why. They rekindle their relationship, but a terrible event puts their relationship in jeopardy.
The narrative switches between 1991 and 2001, alternating between Annika and Jonathan’s earlier relationship and back to 2001 where they are trying to put the pieces back together from what broke them up in the past. Both of their POV’s are shared, but I was more interested in Annika’s chapters than Jonathan’s, even though both characters are likable, there was just something more compelling about her voice.
There’s an ease about THe Girl He Used to Know. From the first page, I was sucked in by Annika’s voice and couldn’t stop reading. Graves does a nice job of capturing Annika’s feelings of anxiety and sometimes exclusion. The romance with Jonathan, especially during their college years, was super sweet. As much as I loved reading this, when I got closer to the ending, I put it aside for a while because I knew by the date what was to come and I didn’t know how things were going to play out--I was terrified the ending was going to be painful and awful, but it was not. The ending seemed a little rushed, and I was left wanting more.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, light read with likable characters and a compelling romance.
Thank you to Marissa from St, Martin's Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...
I REALLY enjoyed this novel.
Chicago 2001 - Annika is picking up groceries when she hears a familiar voice call her name. Though she only sees the person out of the corner of her eye, she knows it’s him…Jonathan. It’s been ten years since she’s seen that face or heard that voice. She wants to run but a voice inside her head tells her to stay put.
“Don’t run, take responsibility, be yourself”
Annika takes a deep breath and says hello. When they hug she still feels the safety and comfort she always felt in his arms. As they leave the store, Annika impulsively asks if they could get together sometime. Jonathan hesitates but eventually agrees.
The University of Illinois 1991- When Annika attended the University of Illinois you could find her at the Wildlife Medical Clinic, the library, or at chess club. Annika loved playing chess. During a particularly tough time at University, Annika considered moving back home. That's when her friend, Janice took her to a chess club meeting, urging Annika to give it a try. Chess club gave her a chance to interact and be a part of something. Then Jonathan Hoffman joined the club.
Annika felt awkward and nervous around most people. She spent hours studying people, their behaviors. “Why were there so many things to think about? To remember? Why couldn’t I figure anything out in the moment instead of days or weeks later?” There were few people she could be herself with.
Jonathan was instantly smitten with Annika and was thrilled when she eventually agreed to go out with him. Being with Annika could be challenging at times, but Jonathan loved the things that made her different. He understood what many others didn’t. He also seemed to know exactly what to do when Annika was upset or overwhelmed.
Annika usually felt invisible, but it was different with Jonathan. With him, she felt safe…. and so much more. Their relationship was strong. But then something drove them apart.
Now that they have reconnected, is there any hope for their relationship? Will they be able to move past the hurt and anger?
A terrific novel that I read in just one sitting.
The story is told from Annika and Jonathan’s point of view, alternating between 2001 and 1991. The author’s descriptions made me feel like I was in the minds of these well-developed characters and I fell in love with many of them. There were a few parts of the story that may have seemed implausible, but I found those easy to overlook and just enjoyed this wonderful and heart-warming story.
A compelling and sensitive read about love and second chances . I am absolutely looking forward to reading more from Tracey Garvis Graves.
I'd like to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel. Opinions stated are my own.
When past mistakes make you into a stronger individual, for the sake of wanting the one true person that makes you better, that's what this compelling romance does to the wonderful characters...
Never have read this author before, so you should all know that I am very sensitive when it comes down to new authors, especially authors in which come from a line of very little known romance that I have heard or read from. But to my surprise, this novel did not upset me in any sort of way. On the contrary, it had everything that I was hoping would get me out of my book slump. Everything a romance should entail when it comes down to emotional in depth struggles, to having a second chance at true love in which will have you as the reader, emotionally drained for more.
I am not the biggest fan of flashback chapters, but this novel was one that I was able to tolerate due to the fact that Annika and Jonathan have such a complex back story in which had me questioning as to why they ended up separating in the first place. As previously mentioned, this is a second chance romance. That in itself is also another triggering point in which I would have never picked up this novel. But thank goodness that I did because I would have regretted it otherwise. Annika is such a unique character, one in which has social concerns that make me want to hug her and become her next best friend. Jonathan has known her for a while now, so after seeing each other after so many years, his attraction towards Annika is one that never seemed to diminish. A bond that made them the ideal partnership both physically and emotionally.
Overall, Tracey has outdone herself with the creation of this romantic novel that will have you swept from your feet. I am glad that we can have the chance of reading romance such as this one that makes you slow down and truly find that one person that will have your heart in the best way possible by protecting it cherishing it, and knowing when to do what's best. Thank you to SMP for sending over this novel as I will not be on the lookout for more of Tracey's novels.
ARC kindly provided by SMP, in exchange for an honest review...
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my first ARC for 2019 and i honestly couldnt have hoped for a better book! maybe its just because my past week or so has been very fantasy heavy, but i really needed this sweet contemporary romance.
i have never read a ‘second chance at first love’ story that i didnt enjoy, and this is no exception. this story is rather simple. the writing is fairly basic and when it comes to annika and jonathan, there isnt really much that happens in regards to a plot. this is just a story about two people who come to love each other and then later learn that that love never went away. but i think that by keeping this story simple, it adds to the integrity and sincerity of the characters. also, i love reading about someone on the spectrum. it makes me so happy that this has become common representation in books lately!
i will also mention that i was let down by the ending. the last couple of chapters feel like an entirely different story to me and i am not quite sure why it took the direction it did. i can kind of understand if the author was trying create an intense moment for the reader to become more emotionally invested in annika and jonathan, but the manner in which she did it did not seem necessary to me. it is very out of place, rushed, and just not feel like the right conclusion to this story.
but overall, this is a delightfully wholesome novel. and it may have been my first TGG book, but i doubt it will be my last.
thanks again to st. martins press for the advance copy and i hope you guys keep an eye out for this when it releases in just a few months! :)
↠ 3.5 stars
*I'm so excited this book is finally out! One of my favorite reads in the last year. Happy publication day! 4/2/19
It is such a wonderful feeling when you read a book and you fall in love with the characters. Sure, many books have enjoyable characters but it's not often you get to meet someone special. I absolutely adored Annika. She shares some similarities with another character in a book I read recently, but while that book was an okay read, this one truly captured my heart.
Back in the early 1990s, Annika and Johnathan were seniors at the University of Illinois. Annika gets anxious in social situations which is probably why she enjoys the game of chess because it doesn't involve much talking. After playing a few games against Annika as members of the university chess club, Johnathan finds her intriguing and admires how she remains true to herself even if she comes across as different. While the two form a connection, something happens that tears them apart. Ten years later, they run into one another in Chicago and slowly start to get to know each other again. But with so many things left unresolved from the past, is it even possible to move on and give love another shot?
Hopefully, my synopsis doesn't read too much like a typical second chance romance because in my opinion this book was so much more than that. There's a pretty big theme going on in the story that I'm sure most people will pick up on early but the author doesn't fully address until pretty far into the book. Despite the fact there are many differences, I found myself relating to some of the aspects of Annika's personality. And yet it was also really easy to relate to Johnathan and how he tried to adapt so he could bring out the best in Annika. I just really enjoyed seeing the two of them interact, back as students and also meeting back up again ten years later.
This was such an incredible read for me. So many touching moments and passages I would read and then have to pause for a bit because I was so moved. Maybe this won't be a perfect read for everyone but I do think it is absolutely worth it to give it a shot. One of my favorite reads this year!
Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read an advance copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.