The Girl He Used to Know

The Girl He Used to Know

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 br...

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Title:The Girl He Used to Know
Author:Tracey Garvis Graves
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Girl He Used to Know Reviews

  • Katie B

    *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

    *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.

  • Larry H

    Wow, wow, WOW. This book was amazing.

    "It's like everyone around you has a copy of the script of life, but no one gave it to you so you have to go in blind and hope you can muddle your way through. And you'll be wrong most of the time."

    Annika Rose is different from other people. She's much more comfortable with solitude, and would much rather be in the company of animals, hiding under her comforter and reading a book, or getting lost in a competitive game of chess than spending time with her fell

    Wow, wow, WOW. This book was amazing.

    "It's like everyone around you has a copy of the script of life, but no one gave it to you so you have to go in blind and hope you can muddle your way through. And you'll be wrong most of the time."

    Annika Rose is different from other people. She's much more comfortable with solitude, and would much rather be in the company of animals, hiding under her comforter and reading a book, or getting lost in a competitive game of chess than spending time with her fellow undergraduates at the University of Illinois.

    She dreams of life as a librarian, surrounded by books, but she often doesn't notice social cues, and she wishes that people would be more direct about what they think and feel rather than make her figure it out. Luckily, Annika has her roommate, Janice, to help her navigate through the confusing and anxiety-provoking world of college.

    When Annika meets Jonathan Hoffman in her senior year at a meeting of the school's chess club, she can't quite understand why he's interested in talking to her, or continuing to play her once she beat him, badly. She knows she's attractive (she's been told her face is "aesthetically pleasing") but she's sure that he'd be more interested in someone more comfortable in social situations, a girl who wears makeup and enjoys going to bars and listening to loud music.

    But Jonathan keeps coming back, and after a while he makes it clear that he's interested in Annika, and he's willing to help calm her fears and understand the things that make her nervous or anxious, because he wants a relationship with her.

    The two fall deeply in love and begin to plan a future together in New York City after graduation. It's not always an easy path—sometimes Annika misses Jonathan's signals, or is unable to do the things he hopes she will—but with Jonathan, for the first time since leaving home, she feels safe, understood, and loved. But even the intensity of their love isn't enough to withstand an unexpected obstacle which tears them apart, leaving them to chart the course of the future on their own.

    Ten years later, Annika is living in Chicago and working at a library. She's a much stronger person than she was in college, and she understands her role in what happened in her relationship with Jonathan. But despite keeping up a strong façade, she's utterly unprepared to run into him in a grocery store. He's back in the area after a career on Wall Street and a divorce, and seeing Annika again rekindles all the old feelings. But can he trust his heart to give her a second chance?

    Annika is determined to show Jonathan how much she has changed, and is willing to take it slow if that's what it takes. Can a relationship that was so intense the first time pick up where it left off, after so much has transpired between them? Is Jonathan still willing to accept Annika the way she is? Can they move past the things that drove them apart, and can they finally have the future they had dreamed of?

    is an utterly fantastic book which blew me away. I read the entire book on a plane ride home. Tracey Garvis Graves has created an incredible set of characters, with such complexity and depth, and this love story is a special one. There are so many books out there that similarities with other novels are expected, but I really felt this was a beautifully unique story, despite a few more familiar plot twists.

    I read the plot synopsis of this book a few weeks ago, so I honestly didn't remember what it was about when I started reading it. I loved where Graves took her story (although I'll admit I wanted more) and I just love the way she writes. There are moments in this book—not even the highly dramatic ones, but the quieter, "ah ha" moments—that just took my breath away.

    Run, don't walk, to get this one.

    See all of my reviews at

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    Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at

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  • Deanna

    4.5 Stars!!

    My reviews can also be seen at:

    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

    Jonathan. It’s been

    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.

    Annika takes a deep

    4.5 Stars!!

    My reviews can also be seen at:

    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

    Jonathan. It’s been

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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

    . 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.

  • KAS

    4

    Stars

    I was beyond thrilled to have received an ARC for this book having loved every single, solitary word of “On The Island.”

    Once again, Ms. Graves writing skills transports you to an alternate universe of uniqueness. Honest to goodness, if you are looking for a romance which is a far cry from the usual, this author fills the bill. I couldn’t have been more engrossed if I tried.

    We meet two individuals whom I immediately fell in love and connected with. The beautiful Annika,

    4

    Stars

    I was beyond thrilled to have received an ARC for this book having loved every single, solitary word of “On The Island.”

    Once again, Ms. Graves writing skills transports you to an alternate universe of uniqueness. Honest to goodness, if you are looking for a romance which is a far cry from the usual, this author fills the bill. I couldn’t have been more engrossed if I tried.

    We meet two individuals whom I immediately fell in love and connected with. The beautiful Annika, whose social skills would be deemed ‘awkward’ by society’s standards; and Jonathan, who is smart, personable and terrifically good looking.

    While this is a sweet romance, there is also an important secondary storyline making this such an extraordinary read.

    To say Annika is “odd” is an understatement. The way in which she copes with the challenges and adversity of everyday life captivated and endeared her to my deepest core. And Jonathan ... wow ... he is a humble hero.

    Annika and Jonathan meet and start dating during their senior year of college and when they unexpectedly bump into each other again, ten years have passed.

    The telling of the story goes back and forth between ‘then and now’ and with a dual narrative, which works seamlessly.

    But, what I really craved was an epilogue. Like really, really craved! Did I get my HEA? I think so, but needed more, a lot more.

    Of course, I went into this beautiful story with blinders on, and hope you will too. It is an unforgettable and unparalleled read.

  • Meredith

    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 other

    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.

  • (Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

    Annika and Jonathan come face to face in a grocery store...after 10 years. The two were college sweethearts and it is instantly apparent that the connection they shared is alive and well even after years of absence.

    I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold through the dual timelines both for the first time in 1991 and the second time

    Annika and Jonathan come face to face in a grocery store...after 10 years. The two were college sweethearts and it is instantly apparent that the connection they shared is alive and well even after years of absence.

    I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold through the dual timelines both for the first time in 1991 and the second time in 2001.

    Annika is beautiful, intelligent and quirky. She is also on the autism spectrum. Although she is considered to be high functioning, she suffers from social awkwardness. Through the course of her life this has led to people taking advantage of her, mistreating her and dismissing her. Yet, as we come to know Annika we realize she is strong, brave, caring, loyal and trusting to a fault. Graves did a phenomenal job developing Annika's character. I found myself rooting for her and wanting to be her friend.

    Jonathan loved and accepted Annika for who she was. He was so sweet, gentle and understanding of her needs and quirks. They truly balanced each other out with their relationship. He was a sense of security for her. With him, Annika tried new things and discovered more than her usual routine was possible. In turn, she offered Jonathan a fierce and unyielding love.

    Although Annika and Jonathan were the main characters Graves solidly built secondary characters that were an integral part of the story. I adored Annika's best friend Janice who was truly a light in her life. Janice helped Annika navigate the world socially. She acted as her translator, confidant, and guide. Their friendship was just so emotionally satisfying! I adored that Annika had this strong friend who accepted her and saw all she had to offer others.

    The one negative I have for this amazing story was the ending. It felt rushed after the time spent building their relationship. I didn't see the traumatic event coming and while I felt a bit like it came out of left field, I was ok with it. I simply didn't appreciate the abrupt ending after everything Annika and Jonathan (and me!) had been through together.

  • jessica

    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 c

    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! :)

  • Cristina | CristiinaReads

    Never have read this author before,

    that I have heard or read from. But to my surprise, this novel did not upset me in any sort of way. On the cont

    Never have read this author before,

    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

    as the reader, emotionally drained for more.

    I am not the biggest fan of

    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

    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

    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

    , 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.

  • Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰

    _______________

    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

    _______________

    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.

    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.

    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.

    My mother warned me about men like him.

    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.

    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

    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.

  • Emily May

    Clearly this is a testament to how shallow I am because I've never been tempted by this author's books before when the covers featured

    , but give me an arty hipster cover and I'm all for it. It was a mistake, obviously.

    I could tell you that this book bored me, that the characters had no chemistry, that it was all telling and no showing, that the writing was robotic (even in Jonathan's chapters so, no, this can't be attributed to Annika being autistic),

    Clearly this is a testament to how shallow I am because I've never been tempted by this author's books before when the covers featured

    , but give me an arty hipster cover and I'm all for it. It was a mistake, obviously.

    I could tell you that this book bored me, that the characters had no chemistry, that it was all telling and no showing, that the writing was robotic (even in Jonathan's chapters so, no, this can't be attributed to Annika being autistic), and all of that would be true. But it is not what bothered me most.

    By far the most irritating aspect of

    is the way the author handled some of the themes. I won't spoil the ending, but that whole drama that flew in at the last minute seemed unnecessary and a bit tasteless, honestly -

    . And it really bothered me the way Jonathan infantilizes Annika and turns her into something of a manic pixie dream girl during his perspectives. He describes her as "childlike" and "delicate" and patronizes her with comments about how she was “wonderful tonight” after she passes for neurotypical at a social event.

    The author says she did extensive research into autism, but

    . I think that came across here.

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