The Girl He Used to Know // Tracey Garvis Graves
Back in the early 1990s, Annika and Jonathan were young college students at the University of Illinois. They meet at chess club - an organization in which Annika immerses herself in due to her inability to feel at ease in social situations. After Annika and Jonathan find themselves playing against each other when they meet for chess club, Jonathan slowly begins to pursue romantic interest in Annika. Their relationship blooms slowly, and eventually develops into a very tenderhearted and sweet romance. That is, until a tragedy forces them apart.
The novel weaves back and forth between their college years, and present time. In the present (2011). Annika and Jonathan see one another again in a grocery store in downtown Chicago. They decide to reconnect - trying for second chances. The reader gets to experience their history unfolding as Annika slowly becomes mentally and emotionally available to face her past.
This is truly one of the greatest love stories I’ve read in quite some time. Annika is a female lead to be remembered: tender hearted, anxious, lost, but strong and giving. Jonathan demonstrated an understanding of her and love for her that I found to be extremely profound. Without spoiling the story, this book handled extremely sensitive issues, extremely well. It will take a bit to get used to the dialogue style and the writing, but trust me it’s intentional, and it’s worth it.
The relationship that Annika shared with her therapist, Tina, was remarkable, and I thought that this book offered a very positive outlook on counseling and personal therapy. It’s important for readers to see struggling characters find hope and redemption through the difficult process of unraveling their true selves with a clinical professional.
This book covers topics such as bullying and mental illness, and it is a truly unique and wonderful process as the reader discovers more of what makes Annika atypical from her peers.
For lovers of romance, heartbreak, forgiveness, redemption and hope - and for those who would like a glimpse into understanding those who may struggle more than most to function and cope in their daily life, this book is for you.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for sending me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will become available for purchase on April 2nd.