Summary (from the publisher): 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.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Over the past few years, I’ve been finding myself reaching more and more for adult contemporary fiction, which led me to Tracey Garvis Graves’ upcoming release, The Girl He Used to Know. Readers who love Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid will really enjoy this sweet love story about college sweethearts, Annika and Jonathan.
The Girl He Used to Know flips between the couple’s senior year of college at the University of Illinois and their present, set ten years later. I often have a love-or-just like relationship with narratives that flip between time periods, but this style really worked for this book. I loved learning about Anna and Jonathan’s past and seeing how their history has affected their present. I admit that I enjoyed the college years a tad more than the present, mostly because I loved seeing their relationship bloom. I also loved the support of Annika’s best friend and roomie, Janice.
At its heart, The Girl He Used to Know is about Annika and Jonathan’s second chance at first love. While Annika’s perspective takes up the majority of the chapters, I did enjoy Jonathan’s point of view as well. The book’s few romance scenes were the perfect balance of romance and relationship building, as this is Annika’s first real relationship.
My favorite part of the book was for sure Annika! As a reader and fellow English major, how could I also not love a protagonist who is an English major and works in a library!I seriously cannot get over how beautiful her name is and her genuine and caring personality. I didn’t know before starting The Girl He Used to Know that Annika is on the autism spectrum, and Tracey Garvis Graves providesreally excellent representation. It was also heart-warming, while heart-breaking at times, to see Annika grow as a person throughout her college and adult lives.
There’s definitely some heaviness towards the novel’s end that I was and wasn’t expecting. For the sake of limiting spoilers, I will say that I knew there had to be some major reason that led to Annika and Jonathan’s break-up, but I didn’t expect that element. The other element had crossed my mind, thanks to the book’s timeline.Nevertheless, it kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. While I was content with the book’s ending, I wish there was just a tad more resolution.
Overall, The Girl He Used to Know is such a perfect read for when your bookish heart craves a cute love story with a cheer-worthy protagonist. It’s definitely a book worth eating up in one sitting.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is The Girl He Used to Know on your TBR? Have you read any books by Tracey Garvis Graves? Share in the comments!