I was sent this book to review through NetGalley, huge thanks to them and the team at St Martins Press for sending me a copy!
Title: The Girl He Used To Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Womens Fiction
Publisher: St Martins Press
Publication Date: 2nd April 2019
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.
- It’s been a while since I’ve read a proper romance book so The Girl He Used To Know was a nice break from the more heavy books I’ve been reading recently. It had plenty of romance, which I loved but also had some great life lessons.
- The novel moves between the past (1991) where Annika and Jonathan first meet in college, fall in love but are torn apart by a tragic event – and the present (2001) where they reconnect and get to know one another again. Each chapter is told either in Annikas perspective or Jonathans,
- The characters in the book were likeable and I enjoyed getting to ‘know’ them, especially Annika Rose, the main character. Annika is an extremely kind and sweet young woman, who has been through some difficult experiences in her past due to her being deemed ‘unusual’ by those around her.
- We find out that Annika is on the Autism spectrum, and for her parts of the novel we experience the world as Annika does, with an open heart and a joy for life. I enjoyed reading about her persevering character, as she develops and finds healthy ways to manage her anxiety. It was such a great feeling as a reader to see her progress and overcome aspects of her mental illness which were holding her back from enjoying her life to the max.
- The writing style flows so nicely – I was once told by my english teacher that writing doesn’t flow but it’s the best way to describe it! Each time I put the book down, I couldn’t wait to pick back up with the story and get back into the sweet love story which Garvis Graves created.
- It would be impossible to write a review and not mention Jonathan – he’s the type of character that I like reading about. A genuine good guy, who doesn’t pressure Annika but is understanding and accepts all her behaviours, without patronising her. Simply put, he gets her, and it’s sweet to see the way their relationship grows. While he’s not as developed as a character and I didn’t connect with him as much, I didn’t mind it too much as it felt like – to me anyway, that Annika was the main star of the novel.
- I didn’t expect to get emotional but what do you know? The last few chapters in particular are heartbreaking and warming all at the same time – I didn’t see it coming but it hit me hard all the same. I don’t want to spoil anything as it’s another major climax in the novel, but just know it will evoke some emotion!
- My only critique would be the ending as I would have liked a bit more, it just felt sort of lacking in comparison to how good I found the rest of the novel. Perhaps the characters can be revisited in another book or short story?
Overall, I can say I really enjoyed this novel and would happily read any other books by Tracey Garvis Graves. It’s the type of book I enjoy, a good romance with deeper issues explored within it, what’s not to love.
Do you enjoy romance novels? or do you prefer another genre? Would love to chat in the comments!
Until next time,