The Girl He Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Loved it and that simple book cover beautiful. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
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I will be very surprised if this doesn't end up being one of my favorite books of the year! St. Martin's Press has been killing it with their titles lately! (Thanks for my digital copy) I have never related to a character in a novel as much as I relate to Annika. As soon as I learned she loves animals and books more than people she had me forever. Yes, this is love story about two college students who reconnect later in life and get a second chance. But it was so much more than that to me. Annika overcomes so many obstacles and Jonathon appreciates her for who she is through it all. I also love love love that she has a best friend she can turn to when life gets too overwhelming and she holds back on living. We all need a Janice and Jonathon in our lives.

Although I do not have autism, I was told in the past that I might. I've never had tests done because I was able to overcome so many things on my own by pushing myself to do things that scared me. But so many of Annika's struggles resonated with me on such a deep level. I've always thought there was something wrong with me because there were so many things I could not do (talking on the phone, being in groups, talking in class, picking up on social cues) and people thought I was just being apathetic or lazy. Reading this book made me realize it is nothing to be ashamed of because it truly helped shape me as a person.

I love how Graves brought so much insight into being on the spectrum and I hope she opened so many peoples eyes. It is a broad spectrum for a reason. Many people have said that the ending makes no sense and came completely out of left field. I love the ending because Annika needed this test to know that she really had overcome many great obstacles. Be ready for all the tears though!
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In 1991, Annika is a junior at the University of Illinois in Chicago.  She is extremely socially awkward.  Annika often says what is on her mind without thinking. She finds social situations exhausting and rather spends time volunteering at the wildlife rehab center.   When she first moved to Chicago two years earlier, her roommate, Janet, begins to show her things like how to dress  stylish, become organized, encourages her to volunteer, and what to say/act in certain social situations. Janet is the first and only friend she has. During her junior year, Annika has enough and is ready to move back home. Janet makes her first go to the chess club meeting that she enjoys and takes her mind off of things. She always plays the same person. That night she plays a match against Jonathan and everything changes.

Jonathan has just transferred to the school, happens across the chess club meeting, and plays with Annika. He is quickly taken in with Annika and her quirky ways.  They soon fall in love and begin to talk about a future after college. However a tragic incident happens that changes everything. 

Ten years later, Annika has her dream job as a librarian for the public library system.  She is living on her on and doing well. She now has weekly sessions with her counselor, Tina, who helps her get through everyday situations.  When life gets really stressful, she still calls Janice for advice.  One afternoon she goes grocery shopping and runs into Jonathan.   He has just moved back to Chicago after a divorce. They agree to have coffee. Jonathan is surprised how much Annika has changed. They both wonder if they could have a second chance. 

The Girl He Used to Love is the latest by Tracey Graves.  The book alternates taking place in 1991 and 2001 and is told by both Annika and Jonathan.  Right away you sort of figure Annika is on the autism spectrum when tests were not done then for it (according to the book) It is not until she is tested in 2001, does a doctor confirm she does have it. It is interesting to see how the characters grow and seem to be there for each other at the right time.  The only negative about it is I thought it ended a little quickly and would have like to have had one more chapter with Jonathan’s POV. Just like her other book, On the Island, once I started it I could not put it down.  One of the best romance novels I have read in a while. 4.5 stars.

THanks for Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy a few months ago. I would have read it sooner if I knew it was this good!
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This book had a lot of hype in the months prior to publications. The author, a well-known romance writer, and the book cover, simplistic yet beautiful, made it seem like the perfect weekend read. And yet I struggled. I loved that Annika was on the Autism spectrum. I'm not the biggest fan of second chance romances, but when done right they can punch you in the gut and give you the warm fuzzies simultaneously. But then there was all this drama, much of which seemed unnecessary and purely plot devices (looking at you, 9/11 subplot). I wasn't all that sure why they broke up in the first place either. I either completely missed it or it just wasn't that clear. Unfortunately, I felt The Girl He Used to Know missed the mark a little bit, but with so many others loving it, I would suggest others give it a try and see for themselves.
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When Annika runs into her ex-boyfriend after 10 years, she wants to show him that she's not the same girl she was when they dated in college. The Girl He Used To Know goes back and forth between past and present and switches between Annika and Jonathan's viewpoint.

The different viewpoints really allowed me to get to know both Annika and Jonathan, and it gave me a better perspective on their relationship. I loved getting to know both characters, and couldn't put the book down.
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I'm on the fence about this book. Maybe I should cut it some slack. I like the premise, but Annika fell wicked flat for me, and since she is the main character, that is a major problem.. What if she sounded more authentic? Would she alienate neurotypical readers? That aside, I was trying to figure out whether this book would have been better -- a fun read, but not something that would standout later.
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This is a fantastic read - a romance but so much more. The story centers around first love and second chances. The narrative alternates between 1991 and 2001 - telling the reader the story of Annika and Jonathan. What makes this one so unique is that Annika isn't a typical heroine - she is autistic. Seeing the world through her eyes was so interesting and gave me a whole new perspective on the life of a person with autism (and I mean that in the best way). The story of Annika and Jonathan was beautifully rendered. Heartwarming, endearing and lovely are all words that I'd use to describe this one. It's definitely a romance but it truly is more. I highly recommend this one!
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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication. 

A tender, second chance at love story-

Annika and Jonathan met in college via the chess club back in 1991. They gradually fall deeply in love, despite Annika’s social anxiety, which is coupled with a plethora of other little quirks. 

Jonathan is just absolutely the most patient and sweet guy, most of the time, but without fully understanding Annika’s social miscues there are a few misunderstandings along the way. Yet, they manage to make it work and are looking forward to building a future together. 

Obviously, something went horribly awry, however, because as the story opens, it is now 2001, and Annika and Jonathan haven’t seen one another for ten years. They bump into one another at the grocery store of all places, and Annika seizes the opportunity to prove to Jonathan that she is not the girl he used to know-

I got caught up in this story instantly. Annika’s character is so earnest and sincere, I couldn’t help but root for her. But I loved Jonathan too, although, almost by default, his character remains a bit muted. Yet, the author most assuredly did this by design, as the reader is most likely so focused on Annika, Jonathan’s emotional needs often feel secondary, or even trite. Yet, it is entirely possible that the book is just as much about Jonathan as it is Annika. 

There is so much to love about this book. It is important too, in many ways, as well. Knowing early on when someone falls within the spectrum is crucial, and there was a time when no such testing was available. But, while I appreciate the attention the book brings to these issues, at the end of the day, this is a second chance at love story, which is one my favorite romantic tropes. I’m a sucker for it and fall for it every single time. 

One does have to suspend belief a bit towards the end, but I still found Annika’s determination to prove her mettle in keeping with the book’s theme. A concerted effort on her part to give Jonathan what he needs in a relationship, is why the title of the book is so fitting, and well, that’s kind of the point, when you get right down to it. Perhaps it was a little overly dramatic- but come on- it was very effective and kept me riveted to the pages, afraid to even exhale. 

Overall, this is a very touching novel, with all the great themes a love story should have, but is also a story of personal growth, compromise, friendship, family. 

4 stars
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I waffled around with my rating and I think I'm going with 2.5 stars. 
I honestly did not get the same feelings and love for Annika that everyone else seems to gush over in their reviews. I didn't like her very much throughout the story. I thought that everyone around her went out of their way to accommodate her, and those who thought she was strange or weird were vilified and made out as terrible people. Yes, I get having compassion for someone who is different and/or on the spectrum, but it doesn't excuse every single part of their behavior that is rude and inappropriate. 
I appreciated toward the end when Jonathan finally confronted her and told her she didn't get to run away every time she felt uncomfortable. I thought "Finally!" when he said it and thought he should have said it long before. If they were supposed to be in a truly loving partnership, it didn't feel that way because he was more of a teacher and a guidance person (with some sex on the side)
I really disliked the ending. It was incongruous with the entire book and did not show to me what I thought the author was wanting to show (Annika's growth as a person). It was very abrupt and the strangest way to end things. I was an adult during the Sept 11 attacks and vividly remember how devastating everything was for weeks. I just thought the author's handling of the whole thing was bizarrely unemotional and wrapped up too quickly and neatly, almost like an epilogue after the long lead up.
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This book was SO good! As a new author for me, I cannot even believe how good it was. I will recommend all to read this book (and more from her)! I love that the book took me on so many emotional paths. I didn't expect the twist at all. I love Annika and Jonathan's special relationship!
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This was a great contemporary romance; it reminded me a lot of the Ghosted by Rosie Walsh, in that it's about a un-explained past and old love re-emerging. Whatever happened, rooted for Annika the entire time; was a beautiful read.
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Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to read this book!  I appreciate the kindness. 
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Review will be posted on 5/21/19
Annika is a bright young woman; however, she falls on the Autism spectrum, so she has some difficulty in her life relating to people, picking up on social cues, etc.  She has spent most of her life trying to avoid her triggers and mimic socially adept people so she can fit in as she truly is high-functioning.  Once she heads off to college, her world opens up for her.  Thankfully, she ends up with Janice, who is pretty much the best roommate ever.  She is so caring; she takes Annika under her wing and helps her with her wardrobe, her social situations, and more. She is a godsend.  Annika joins the chess club as she is an avid player and in turn meets Jonathan.  No one has ever noticed Annika despite her outward beauty as most people are turned off by her quirks. Not Jonathan though.  He loves Annika just the way she is. Swoon.  They dated for quite sometime, but at first readers aren't privy to what went wrong.  Fast forward ten years later, Annika runs into Jonathan at the grocery store of all places and there's still something there between them.  Can they push aside the past and whatever event turned them away from each other? The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves is such a swoon-worthy romance. I was hooked from the beginning and was so sad to say goodbye to these characters.  This book is one of my favorites of the year! 

Annika, as I mentioned previously, is on the Autism spectrum, but is high-functioning. She graduated college, has a job, is able to live on her own, and even has dated a few guys.  Graves captured someone who is autistic brilliantly.  She was able to highlight some of her quirks and issues while also showcasing how fantastic people can be on the spectrum, especially when it comes to their honesty and their passions. I love that Graves wrote Annika as an autistic woman and I would love to see more of this in adult as well as young adult fiction as it helps people to understand and relate.

Jonathan was also a great character in The Girl He Used to Know. He embraces Annika for who she truly is, quirks and all.  He appreciates every aspect of her and I adored their relationship.  At times, it broke my heart to see how hard it was for Annika to fit in in some of Jonathan's social situations, such as a dinner party or work event, but he handles it so well for the both of them.  What can I say? Their romance is beautiful!

There's a lot more that goes on in The Girl He Used to Know; it's not just a simple romance. Disaster strikes and things get very complicated, but I know readers will be rooting for Annika and Jonathan just like I was.  The Girl He Used to Know is a phenomenal read that would be perfect for fans of contemporary fiction. I couldn't think of a better book to read on vacation this summer, especially if you love characters that tug your heartstrings.
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Truly great book, wonderful, unforgettable story. This was one of the very best books I’ve ever read. From start to finish, this was a beautifully written, compelling, addictive love story.
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I loved The Girl He Used to Know so, so much. Annika has always been seen as odd or strange, and people do not understand her "weird" behaviors. Except for Jonathan. He sees her and accepts her the way she is. In fact, they fall in love. But something happens that splits them up and Jonathan moves to New York City while Annika stays in Chicago to finish her schooling. Ten years later they run into each other at the grocery store, and this sends them both back in time and forces them to reevaluate their feelings for one another. This book was simply wonderful. It made me feel so many things. Having a stepson who is on the Autism spectrum, so reading the story partially from Annika's perspective opened my eyes to so many things. The Girl He Used to Know is one of the best books I have read this year. In fact, it is one of the best I have ever read!
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This book was amazing, I didn't expect to love it so much, but it touch me in so many ways.It was intense , emotional, fast paced and intense. The story was perfect, it was unique and it has a deep meaning.It's not your usual romance.

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Annika was an interesting heroine, I adored her.I liked her personality and her love story was sweet but also there were moments I cried so much.Annika and Jonathan’s relationship touched me, I loved their moments together.

It was an amazing story that I would definitely reread it!If you are looking for a powerful story this is what you need!
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Oh my God, what an amazing story.  I have to admit, I never knew any autistic people that were female, instead familiar with school age boys as the biggest percentage that I had encountered over the years.
But here we are, Annika who we see attending as University and the story keeps jumping from 1992 to to ten years later in 2001 when her college boyfriend comes back into her life and they reumite
.  The story bounces back and forth from what initially happened and then you see the time goes by and there's a 9/11 story arc.  So many feels.  You can't help but love Annika, she has a heart of gold and who can not relate to what she goes through in life?  We've all been there.  And the relationship between Jonathan and her is admirable.
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I loved this book. I don't love how some authors treat autism but I loved how Tracey handled autism. 

Annika and Jonathan were a pleasure to read about. Their love story was timeless. Graves made me want to find my own Jonathan. He was so patient and understanding even in college. Annika was so strong. She took on the world and found ways to cope. 

This is a beautiful story and I hope everyone picks it up.
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This was a cute, quick read. I finished it in a little under 36 hours, and I can't remember the last time I stayed up until midnight to finish a book because I didn't want to stop reading. This was a nice change of pace from what I've been reading recently.

All that said, it's not perfect or groundbreaking. It's predictable a bit (and the major twist, which I won't spoil, is pretty obvious from the get-go if you're paying attention to details and hints). To that end, it seemed a little unbelievable, but it also had to be a huge writing challenge to write about that from that perspective. (This feels so vague, but no spoilers). 

What I liked: that this is a book with a charming protagonist who is on the ASD spectrum, and it feels true to character and authentic. It reminded me of the Kiss Quotient a little bit in that regard, though the characters and plot are much different. I'm glad to see more inclusion in books, particularly ones that are generally well-written. The story itself is cute, and I liked the narrative structure flipping between present day and their past in college. 

What I didn't love: alternating POV. Yes, it's usually a hangup for me and I rarely like it, especially when alternating genders because it's rare for a writer (at least those that I've read) to successfully get in both characters heads. This was a bit of an issue here, as I feel like authors' typically default to just overly describing boobs when they're writing from the male perspective, and then maybe they throw in some over the top frat bro jealousy/ego on occasion... but nothing else changes significantly besides a focus on boobs. There also wasn't enough of a distinction between the two character's voices, as at times the quick, blunt writing from the female character's POV, that I attributed to the portrayal of the ASD spectrum aspect, was present in his character, too. The Jonathan chapters were far fewer in number than the Annika chapters, so I think the book would have been just as good, if not better, if it was entirely Annika's POV. If it truly alternated every chapter then it would be different, but there seemed to be 4-5 Annika for every 1 Jonathan. 

All that said, I'd recommend reading it, if the plot sounds intriguing to you.
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I really enjoyed this book! I loved the plot and storyline. I think this book would appeal to many different readers -- women, men, young adults, etc. Highly recommended!
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