The Girl He Used to Know @tgravisgraves @StMartinsPress #autism #friendship #love #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

There are times when a book makes everything you love about reading come together in a short two hundred and ninety-one pages. There are times when you get to see the good in others and relish every page of a story that made you ever so glad you picked it up. This was such a book. We happily give this story all the stars in the sky and you can throw in the sun, planets, and the moon too! Yes, it was that good.

The Girl He Used to Know
“Sometimes it’s important to let the people we care about know that a single incident doesn’t have to define them”

Jan’s review

5 stars! If you are looking for the perfect summer read, look no further. This is it.

Right from the start I fell in love with Annika. How could I not love a woman who says “I want to work at a library someday….I want to spend every waking day of my adult life surrounded by books.”  A girl who carries around a book of Elanor Roosevelt quotes? Her favorite: ‘A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” And Jonathan…well,  he is the perfect boyfriend we all wished we had met in college, but instead met only the jerks. 

Annika and Jonathan fell in love while in college, but something broke them apart after  graduation. A chance encounter 10 years later rekindles the flame, but there are issues. From here, the short chapters that alternated between Then and Now kept me furiously flipping the pages.  And that is all I will say about the plot as it’s best to go into this blindly. 

However,  I can’t end this review without saying something about the characters, because they are delightful. Annika is a high-functioning woman on the spectrum and I loved how she was portrayed. The author presents her in such a way that I understood her way of thinking, and I loved her for it. My heart broke for her when she struggled and was the victim of hateful comments and bullying. 

Jonathan is Annika’s strongest supporter, along with her best friend Janice. These two help Annika navigate an often confusing world. But perhaps they helped her a bit too much and Annika needed to learn how to navigate the world on her own.

No spoilers, but I will say that after I learned what happened to break Jonathan and Annika apart (which you will either love or hate), I loved the direction the author took Annika’s character. How 10 years later she was no longer ‘the girl he used to know’. 

This is a beautiful love story, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a story of how some people struggle with social norms. It’s a reminder to not judge and be kind, always. It’s a story about love, friendship, and rising above adversity.

Recommended for everyone because I loved it so. But this will especially appeal to those who love a character-driven story that falls into the category of lighter fiction with depth. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is for romance readers only. 

I read this as a buddy read with my friend Marialyce, and we both loved it. Annika touched my heart and she will stay with me a long while. This book will surely be on our 2019 favorites list.

Marialyce’s review

How could you not love a book that allows you to crawl into the mind and heart of its main character? You feel the pain, the sorrow, the hope, and the need to fit in so much that you yourself become that character. That’s exactly what you find reading about Annika, a most delightful character and her struggles with what we now know is autism.

If you know someone, and who doesn’t, who is autistic, you probably are aware of the difficulties that person has trying to find their place in a world that often seems hostile and unforgiving. For Annika her struggles are apparent, no friends, being thought of as strange, and sadly being taken advantage of. She retreats, insulates herself from hurt and decides to surround herself with what she loves, books.

Life takes a turn as she heads to college working on independence and meeting two of the most wonderful characters ever to grace a story. Jonathan the man who comes to love her, and her friend and roommate, Janice. Jonathan and Annika are thrown together at a chess club. She is reluctant to participate, to branch out,  but there is something that Jonathan sees and eventually loves about Annika. He draws her out of the shell she has created for herself and ultimately falls in love with her and she with him.

Sounds like a perfect story but there not silver linings in Annika’s story, and so Annika and Jonathan separate. It’s sad and tragic but Annika has strength that she is discovering and that strength is the strength of self. “The constant vigilance and my heightened anxiety that I’d screw it up anyway exhausted me, but I persevered.”

Ten years later fate intervenes and offers Annika another chance for happiness if she is willing to grab that gold ring. Jonathan is back and as they reconnect he wonders is Annika still the girl he used to know or is she something even more wonderful?

I absolutely am over the top in love with this story. I so appreciated the author’s wonderful effort in taking on the topic of autism in such a touching and sensitive manner. This is how you portray the autistic spectrum with eyes focused on the beauty of life, love, and friendship that is open to all even if you are different.

Don’t miss this amazing story. It will warm your heart and make you come to the understanding that to be different is often a wonderful thing to be.

Jan and I loved this story. It made us feel all those wonderful emotions that a talented author can make you feel. We were both sad though, and that sadness was because this beautiful story had come to an end.

and here’s the author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You,Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.

13 thoughts on “The Girl He Used to Know @tgravisgraves @StMartinsPress #autism #friendship #love #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

  1. I am so glad you both loved this book as much as I did! It was a book that you know you will never ever forget. Loved reading your reviews!! Your reviews nailed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marialyce, Just thinking about this book still makes me smile…I’m so glad we read it together. We are on a roll of terrific reads 💕📚


  3. Oh wow, wow, wow. I love the way you have portrayed this book in your reviews. This sounds like an amazing book and one I definitely need to read. Thanks for the wonderful recommendations. Having a grandson on the high end of the spectrum, I have to read them with caution, but definitely want to read them. Thanks for sharing this one.


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