The Girl He Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I am not a big fan of second chance romances but I love this author's work so I was willing to take a chance on this book. 
This novel was written from the perspective of the main characters Annika and Jonathan, and it vacillates from their past to their present. Annika Rose and Jonathan Hoffman met at college at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagn as members of the chess club. Annika was a shy and socially awkward girl who showed signs of having either Asperger's Syndrome or Autism. Jonathan was a confident transfer student who wants intrigued with Annika, especially with her chess expertise. Their friendship blossomed into a sweet college romance love and she ended up ghosting him after he graduated.

Ten years later, Annika accidentally ran into Jonathan at the grocery store so she asked him out for coffee. Annika saw this an opportunity to right a wrong from almost a decade ago. The readers get glimpses into the people they were back in college and who Annika and Jonathan are ten years later.The story moves at an even pace, allowing the reader to get into the characters head and experience their emotions. It was certainly educational for me to see how different and challenging everyday occurrences can be for someone whose brain is wired is different from mine.

Tracey Garvis Gravis did a great job of presenting Annika and Simon without making it overly emotional and sappy. I also loved her addition of Janice, Annika's roommate in college and current best friend. It was a journey of growth, independence and learning from one's mistakes. It is also about communicating, understanding and having empathy for others who may not be just like you. It was very subtle the way the author mended something that was thought to be broken a long time ago resulting in a beautiful and more mature love. I enjoy stories where characters evolve and as a reader, I learn something new. I will definitely recommend it to others.
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Right from the beginning I was hooked into this book and the story. I just totally loved Annika and her background story.  In college she was not very socially adept, missed cues, spoke her mind, hated loud noise and wasn't keen on being touched. But... what a heart and gorgeous person. I also fell for her room mate Janine who was kind enough to reach out in genuine friendship and help Annika to find her way through the world that mystified her.

In college she meets Jonathan and he is everything you'd like in a male. We find out that something separated them and now as they meet ten years later and begin to find their way with each other, we are led on, wondering what on earth went wrong between this wonderful pair.

The story is told in two time lines, college days and 2001. They fit together seamlessly and as I read, the question I held about what went wrong was answered. And no more about the plot - its best discovered as you read.This book was a fast read, I picked it up every moment possible. It was emotional - heart warming and heart breaking. If you love unforgettable characters, a little mystery, and an emotional read with an intense ending - pick this one up. I hated it had to finish!
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This was my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last! I am sometimes hesitant about narratives that involve two timelines, but I thought it was handled well here! I loved the love story and the unique central character. I will say that there was a plot twist that I was not a fan of and without it, I would have rated this book higher. That being said, it was still an enjoyable read and I would recommend it! 
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After getting into this book, I've found it is not for me. I will not be formerly reviewing it because I don't think I could review it with justice. I am a fan of Tracey Garvis Graves novel, ON THE ISLAND, and I wanted to have the same love for this book. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect well with the story and found myself unable to continue on. This is a mis-match between reader and book, rather than a strict book problem, and for that reason, I don't feel right reviewing this title and risking driving potential readers away from it. I will happily recommend this book to the right reader, that reader just wasn't me.
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A charming a captivating character study and romance.  The Girl He Used to Know is a compelling and refreshing look at love, self-awareness and vulnerability.
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This was my first book by this author and I loved this story!! Connected to these characters right from the beginning... highly recommend!!
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I enjoyed this book.  It was both easy to read and had quite a lot of depth to it.  The characters are all well developed, and I liked the way in which they interacted with one another.
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Umm. This book was quite something. I haven't read anything from this author before but I had heard such good things from other reviewers. I was excited to try The Girl He Used to Know since it features a second chance romance and an autistic heroine. It started off on a decent note. I was easily swept into the story. The writing certainly felt stilted to me. I initially attributed that to the heroine being autistic, but even the hero's voice was rather robotic. The Girl He Used to Know is the story of Annika, an autistic young woman, and Jonathan, a young man she slowly falls in love with. Annika was an interesting enough character. I haven't read many stories told through the points of view of neurodiverse characters, so I enjoyed getting to know some of the intricacies of individuals with autism through Annika. I liked Annika's character, but Jonathan I seemed to struggle with. I can't exactly pinpoint what it was about him that bugged me, but perhaps it was his lack of personality. As a result, I just didn't care for the romance. All that being said, this book was heading towards the 3 stars direction until the concluding chapters. The author decided to use 9/11 to create conflict in the romance, but I found that to be quite disrespectful. There are just some real-life historical events that shouldn't be used as a plot point in my opinion, and 9/11 is one of those. In the end, this book left me with a bad taste. I do seem to be a bit of a black sheep when it comes to this book, so if this sounds like it would work for you, I say go for it.
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2.5 Stars

Ms. Graves is a first time author to me. I thought I'd give her a try since so many sing her praises. I'm not sure if I chose the wrong book or what, but I was bored. So so bored. This book took me forever to get through. Having a child on the Spectrum-Aspergers- I was really intrigued. However, even that aspect fell flat for me. 

It was very slow moving. And I just couldn't connect to the book. I liked Annika and could see my son in her, which made me relate to her a bit more than Jonathan. In all honesty, our hero did absolutely nothing for me. I wasn't enamored by him as others were. In fact, I wasn't impressed with him at all. I agree with another reviewer, he was a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's very manipulative. What you see isn't quite what you get. I don't get all the love for him, but hey we all read a book differently, so...

If it wasn't for Annika and Janice, I would have DNF'd this book. Annika was the shinning light, in my opinion. I had such high hopes for her and those hopes didn't include our leading man. And Janice was the best friend I wish for my son to find.
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Annika Rose feels lost in the world. She has trouble reading other people's emotions and social cues. She feels safest alone--around books and animals. That changes in college, when she meets Jonathan. Jonathan brings something out in Annika that she didn't know was within her. But something happens between them, and now ten years has passed since the two have seen each other. When they run into each other in a store, Annika's feelings for Jonathan come rushing back. But can show him that things have changed, she has changed? And even so, does he feel the same way about her?

This is a quiet but powerful love story, and I fell deeply for the character of Annika. At first, I was worried this book would be an Eleanor Oliphant clone, but it easily held its own. As I started reading this novel, I was curious where it would go, and it took me a little time to adjust to the fact that it might not roar off and go crazy places, if that makes any sense. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers and mysteries, my brain learned that it was instead a lovely story about two people who had been in love, lost each other, and now had a second chance to find each other again.

My favorite part of this book was Annika. She felt like a kindred spirit in many ways--her love of books, animals, and the way she was overwhelmed in the world around her, memorizing the actions and social steps of others so she could fit in. I highlighted so many quotes that resonated with me.

"I required more downtime than most people. I needed to be able to read and sleep and be alone."

Graves captures Annika perfectly. The little details she puts in; the stories she includes. I could picture her so well. I fell for her, and I rooted for her from the beginning. It was easy to get swept up in the story when you loved the main character so much.

The novel is told mostly from Annika's perspective--going back and forth between the present and ten years ago--but we do hear from Jonathan occasionally. The format works really well. It pulls you into their love story and makes you a part of their romance. It's a surprisingly sexy one at times (be prepared) but also sweet and lovely, too. There are heartbreaking moments and moments of true resilience.

Overall, I haven't read a book like this in a long time. It was a different read, but not at all in a bad way. I really liked the characters, I was caught up in their story, and felt really changed and affected by the end. I definitely recommend it.
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This was my very first Tracy Garvis Greaves book (I knew her name sounded familiar but didn’t even realize until I got to the end of the book and the author bio that she wrote the plane crash book about the 30 year old and the 16 year old lol).

So: there were things about this book that I really loved. The synopsis doesn’t mention (and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Annika is on the spectrum.) I loved seeing a character like Annika be a main character, front and center, worthy of her own story, rather than a secondary character there to add diversity or teach us something.

The story is told in dual POV that shifts between the 1990s (when Annika and Jonathan meet in collets) and 2001 (when they bump into each other.)

I found Annika’s relationship with Jonathan to be really moving and interesting and I liked getting both POVs and the back and forth time shift. Those stories can be awkward but I thought that all worked really well. I see some people on my timeline say that they were bored, but I was really invested!

The dramatic stuff like the reason they drifted apart in the 1990s felt less successful to me. I was kind of shocked at the reason their relationship fell apart – it wasn’t what I’d been expecting. 

The development near the end was much more problematic for me. It felt emotionally manipulative in a way that the book hadn’t been up to then, and for reasons that are a bit spoiler, that really bothered me. 

Those objections aside, I will remember Jonathan and Annika and their moving story of love and separation and a second chance at love – that part of the story I thought was great.
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The Girl He Used to Know by Travis Garvis Graves is an unusual romantic novel with completely engaging characters. Jonathan is attractive, loving, and exactly the guy you want to meet in college…or want your daughter to meet.  Annika is beautiful, smart, quirky and somewhere on the autism spectrum. She is that person who always seems a bit off-script and out of step.  Jonathan and Annika find each other, lose each other, and reunite again.  The plot twists surprised me more than once.

Basically, however, this is a love story about two delightful people.  Like all of the best love stories, it is also about friendship and loyalty. Graves jumps back and forth between the couple’s college days and their adult meeting and also tells part of the story from each of the couple’s point of view.  It sounds jumpy, but the author is talented enough to make it work seamlessly.  There is an authenticity about the story and dialogue that is refreshing.  While this seems like a light read, I suspect that these characters will stay with you for a long time.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an opportunity to read the electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.  It was my pleasure.
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Favorite Quotes:

“Marched to the beat of a different drum, did she?” “She marched to the beat of an entirely different band. One you’ve never heard of and under no circumstances ever expected to like.”

Whenever I think of Annika, my mind returns to the way we left things and the same unanswered question. It’s like a pebble in my shoe, uncomfortable but not unbearable. But it’s always there.

He had the whitest teeth I’d ever seen, which made me think his kisses would taste like Pep O Mint Life Savers. Joe’s kisses probably tasted like pot and Funyuns. And failure.

All my life, I’d been waiting for someone I could be myself with. It had never occurred to me that I could be that person for someone else.

It’s a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt… My best friend bought me a book of them. ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’ is what got me through my twenties. 

My Review:

This is my favorite book so far this year, it was highly engaging, keenly insightful, and hit all the feels.  The storylines were ingeniously crafted and flawlessly populated with an intriguing and captivating cast of characters.  Ms. Graves' writing was emotive and perfectly pitched; she bruised my cold heart, held me transfixed to my Kindle, and stung my eyes more than once.  

The story was cleverly woven between two timelines and told from the equally mesmerizing POVs of the two compelling and intriguing main characters.  This was my inaugural outing with the stunningly talented Tracey Garvis Graves and I am at a total loss as to why I have never availed myself of this clever scribe’s works before as it was nothing short of brilliant.   I covet all her lovely words and am greedy to amass her entire listing.
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I’m not wild about the title of this book (I wish Annika, who is awesome and wonderful and an incredibly full character with layers and complications that make her something special, wasn’t presented in her OWN STORY (and yes, this really is Annika’s story more than anything) through her romantic relationship), but man I’m wild about the story. Annika is different than everyone else and has always had trouble relating to her peers. She meets Jonathan in college and they fall in love. Through a series of difficulties, they lose each other but meet again 10 years later by chance. This is not really the story of their love. It’s the story of Annika growing and of her journey through the world. 

I’m gonna be honest. I almost DNF’d this book. I was frustrated about 50% through when there was no mention of autism and it was clear to me that Annika probably had ASD. But I’m so glad I didn’t. This book is heartbreaking and moving. The ending was definitely rushed and I would have liked to see Annika struggling a little bit more as she went through driving to New York and finding Jonathan, but I really loved how determined she was. She didn’t revert to the habits that gave her comfort and she didn’t expect other people to fix the problem. She knew that she needed to be the one to fix it and so she did. 

I had some trouble with the writing. It’s a little more spare than I tend to like, but it is well done and packs enough of a punch in the scenes where it really matters that it doesn’t overly bother me. I would have loved more description when the characters are speaking, but I’ve read enough bad writing to know that this ain’t that.
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I loved this novel!  The story follows Annika, who has trouble in social situations, has trouble connecting with other people.  Except Jonathan.  This is a story of love, heartbreak and redemption.  A modern day love story that will have you hooked from the very beginning.   I absolutely recommend this novel! 

Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book!
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This is the first book I’ve read from Tracey Garvis Graves and I was not disappointed! I will definitely be reading more from her. The story is told from the perspectives of both Annika and Jonathan in the years 1991 and 10 years later in 2001. I really loved getting to know them in the past and watching their friendship, and later their relationship develop. When they meet again in 2001, they haven’t seen or talked in 10 years and I enjoyed watching them get to know each other again. 

Both characters were written beautifully. They had a lot of depth to them and I think Annika’s austism was handled beautifully. 

My only issue with the book was the 9/11 plot line. Maybe I should have realized it was going to happen, but I didn’t realize until the chapter was dated September 10th. Being a New Yorker, I don’t like reading about 9/11, so I ended up just skimming the last remaining chapters. I also don’t feel like the ending was at all realistic, even though it did make me happy. 

Other than that, The Girl He Used to Know was a beautifully written story which I enjoyed immensely!
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Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read and review, "The Girl He Used to Know"
by Tracey Garvis Graves. An excellent work of women's fiction! This book was so different from anything else I have ever read. I really enjoy flashbacks from the past and coming back to the present. I also like chapters from different character points of view. The only reason I am not giving this 5 stars is due to the sex scenes being awkward (in my opinion) and the ending. I would have loved to see a more upbeat ending! I really did enjoy Annika and Johnathan as characters. I am looking forward to reading more from Tracey Garvis Garves!
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Having been a fan of Tracey Garvis Graves for some years, I jumped at the offer to review an early copy of The Girl He Used to Know almost a year before publication. But just to refresh my mind on the story, I listened to the audiobook and I ended up giving it another whole star rating. That rarely happens, but when a gifted narrator can bring such a moving story to life the way Fred Berman and Kathleen McInerney did, it’s only fitting. This story alternates between the past (1991) and present (2001), and it also alternates between Annika and Jonathan.

First, let’s begin with Annika in 1991. All her life she felt different from other people. She had a hard time understanding a lot of the things people would normally do. She just felt she was “weird” or “quirky.” In reality, Annika was on the autism spectrum. This is not something she will find out for another year as she was never tested as a child. This definitely made it harder for her to understand all the “social norms” and it really made her doubt herself and her ability to be out on her own at college. Her roommate and best friend was a great help to her though. She understood that Annika was not a typical girl and grew to really care for her. She also introduced her to the college’s chess club, where Annika found an activity that made college life a little easier on her. This is where she meets Jonathan.

Jonathan is a new student and a new chess club member when he meets Annika. She really makes an impression on him and before long, their friendship grows to something really loving. I wish everyone’s first loves were like Jonathan. He was caring, kind, and handsome, but that didn’t mean he was without faults. At times he would get frustrated because Annika wouldn’t act as he thought a normal person would. While that’s sucky, he was quick to hear her out and try to understand how her mind works. Before long this relationship grows to the point where they’re making plans together for after graduation, but something huge happens to Annika and it leaves her emotionally paralyzed for a long time.

Fast forward to 2001 and Annika has really flourished. She has her dream job and her autism isn’t so much a mystery anymore. Now, thanks to a therapist, life isn’t as overwhelming and she has learned different ways to cope with certain situations. Running into Jonathan at a grocery store of all places wasn’t something she was expecting. It definitely throws them both for a loop but something makes her want to reconnect with him. He’s a little more skeptical about it but goes along with it. They soon realize how much they’ve each grown and changed and it gives this second-chance romance some legs.

The ending was unexpected, but it shouldn’t have been if only I had been paying closer attention. And if you find yourself reading those last few chapters expecting the worse… I was there with you! I know some people found it rushed or unexpected but I understand that in the end, it was to show just how capable Annika was now. Tracey Garvis Graves really delivered a moving look into what it’s like to live with autism and the struggles one might have to endure. I definitely recommend this book, maybe in audiobook format even more because I really liked it that way. So go out and get a copy and see for yourself!
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4.5 Stars

Ten years does little to extinguish the flame that burns between Annika Rose and Jonathan. Seeing each other for the first time after such a large space of time is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket at the first sight of winter, it's comfortable, but it also brings back the painful hurt each was left with at the end of their youthful relationship. Annika still prefers her solitude and the quiet, but Jonathan reminds her of the comfort of a companion, the trust, and the difficulties that sometimes come with dating when one doesn't understand social cues quite as well as others. She's not sure he'll want to see her again, not after the past, but she wants to see him again and this time, she's willing to do the work. 

For those who haven't read On The Island, Tracey Garvis Graves' debut novel, let me tell you about how even years after reading it is unforgettable. I know the characters, I know their feelings, I think of them when people ask for specific types of stories, I think of them like old friends. Sure, she's published others since then, but that book just had that memorable quality to it. When I read the blurb for The Girl He Used to Know I felt that rush of excitement, that same feeling of butterflies before getting on a roller coaster, it was an immediate feeling of I must read this book. The blurb doesn't give much away, but the line, "She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way - she just can't read people." told me this would be a unique read and I wasn't wrong. I was wrapped up in this story for several hours, I couldn't focus on anything without thinking about what I had left to discover on the pages. It was an all consuming read that left me smiling through my tears.

Annika Rose is your typical female main character, she's gorgeous, she's self sufficient, she's loved and lost, but she also struggles quite a lot with social interaction. What others call weird or avoid her for is really her high functioning autism and the tools she has learned to use to cope with her inability to understand facial expressions, social cues, and body language. When Jonathan first sees her he sees her beauty and soon after her brain and, despite the difficulties he has in just befriending her, he sets his sights on dating her. It isn't easy though, Annika is used to others "babysitting" her and is unprepared for what is required of her on date nights or even in Chess Club as she moves from occasional member to a competitive teammate. She frequently runs away to the safety of her room, is often unaware or almost too aware of the looks and comments made about her, and without a diagnosis has no tools to help her in the fast-paced college atmosphere. Tracey Garvis Graves really captured the misconception many held, and may still hold, about people with autism, I felt like I really was Annika as she battled the stigma of being dumb or slow. Tracey Garvis Graves also really highlights the uniqueness of high functioning autism, with Annika being so beautiful, but also easy prey for those who recognize she is unable to understand their intention. I am so thankful this girl has a roommate and best friend that loves her and helps her and never sees her as a burden, it's absolutely one of my favorite secondary relationships I've ever read. 

The romance aspect of this story is just beautiful and so unique, the novel flashes back between 1991 while the two are in college dating and 2001, ten years later, with many more life experiences behind them. These two love so deeply, when they fall they fall hard, but college-aged Annika isn't prepared to cope with adulthood and the affects of choices and adult Annika has relied so much on her coping mechanisms that starting fresh with Jonathan sounds much better that dealing with the past. There is significant character growth in the ten year gap and while I would have loved to read it all I think we get just the right amount of highlights to understand where life took the two. Each are hardened a bit by their experiences, yet the spark between them still flickers innocently like it once did. I so loved Jonathan and his patience, understanding, and love of Annika. He puts other's expectations behind him and loves her fiercely, even when he doesn't know what to do to be there for her. I also loved how he learned to ask things of her, to explain the love, commitment, and trust he needs to make the relationship work. I think it is important to highlight that Annika doesn't know how a relationship should work, being a partner to her rather than being a caretaker is Jonathan's goal and I think the dialogue we get in this novel as they explore dating again is incredible. It felt realistic and accurate and really made me think. The two face challenges, massive challenges many of us would never dream of facing, and yet they continue to fight for themselves and for each other. My only complaint is the lack of an epilogue, while I could have read the story of these two forever I really think an ending that gives readers a reprieve from the tears would have been amazing.

Told from Annika and Jonathan's alternating perspectives, The Girl He Used to Know captures the essence of first love and the mark it leaves on you so perfectly to me. It's the story of the underdog, a romance with depth that left me in tears, it's so beautiful and yet so heart wrenching, and begging for more. Tracey Garvis Graves' The Girl He Used to Know will have a spot on my favorites shelf forever.
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The Girl He Used To Know
Tracey Garvis Graves

What it's all about...

Annika...rhymes with quirky, beautiful and charming.  Her quirkiness and inability to tolerate certain things may be due to a degree of autism.  Annika meets Jonathan in college.  They fall in love but they are separated for 10 years.  The book is all about their relationship then as well as now.  There is a slow subtle buildup to why they separated.  

My thoughts after reading this book...

I loved this book and I especially loved Annika.  Her love for animals as well as her odd ways...made her endearing.  She didn’t care about body image, her clothes never matched...they just had to be comfortable...her intolerance for lip gloss and perfume and anything constricting...all of these things plus more made her so special.  Jonathan was tolerant as well as accepting of all of these issues.  

What I loved best...

The writing was special and so was the relationship between Annika and Jonathan.  

What potential readers might want to know...

Readers who love quirky interesting characters should truly enjoy this beautiful book.  

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  It was my choice to read and review it.
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