The Girl He Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

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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This was a great book with a main character representing ASD. While for most of the book Annika didn't admit her ASD or maybe even realize it all of her characteristics highly lie on the spectrum. The romance in the novel was extremely sweet and the risks that the two took for eachother, especially Annika idetifiying feelings within herself, we're amazing. The college love story was really what kept me reading until the ending for obvious reasons, but I think that was good because I kept wanting to go back to see the differences in where Annika was to where she went to. 

It was definitely great to see Annika's journey play out over time and see her self discover progress. With her anxieties, a lot of people, including myself, would be able to relate to her.

Though the ending was very impactful, I felt it still was a bit rushed and the conclusion of this epic 10+year love story ended too fast for what I was wanting. 

Annika and Johnathan's love story was very sweet and enjoyable to read. A solid contempary, thank you NetGalley for an arc to read!
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While some might consider this book a little hokey and/or predictable, I really enjoyed reading it. It felt very familiar to me as someone who grew up in the Midwest, and the recipes look fantastic! You could even consider it a cookbook with a bonus story. 

Although the author apparently has a number of books out, I was unfamiliar with her work. I can definitely see myself looking for others now. 

I was provided with an advance copy thanks to NetGalley and the publisher in an exchange for a fair and honest review.
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2.5 stars This is a book that will appeal to readers who enjoy a love story that is touching yet uncomplicated. It’s a delightful  story about two people who fall in love while in their last year of uni and then accidentally meet again 10 years later. It is about new beginnings and second chances. 

I wasn’t as taken with this book as many others were. It’s charms were a little too simplistic for my liking. There was just something in this love story that felt too naive and didn’t resonate with me very well. The main character Annika didn’t capture my heart or attention, and as a result, I had a hard time buying into the story and the romance. I also felt like the ending, which takes a surprisingly significant turn, was rushed.

This book read more like YA fiction to me and that’s not a genre that I typically appreciate.  I think readers who connect with innocent and naive characters and a straightforward plot will relish in this love story much more than I did.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I have read a few books written by the author. My book club read The Island love story, which made me feel uncomfortably captivated.

This story is equally engaging and doesn't leave the reader feeling uncomfortable. It's a tender love story of rekindled love, ten years later. The story is told in the past, and present - and from both Annika and Jonathan's point of view. Annika is a young woman with a diagnosis of autism (on the spectrum), living in a world with people not patient or willing to appreciate her.

A refreshing, quick read.
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I have read a couple of her books and enjoyed her voice so I was looking forward to reading this. The heroine, Annika, is neurodiverse, in the book she is described as being on the autism spectrum. The book alternates past (1991) and present (2001) and we get the POV from heroine and the hero. Annika and Jonathan are college sweethearts that broke up and reconnect in the present. 

The book alternates between telling the story of Annika and Jonathan meeting and falling in love in college and reconnecting and falling in love again as adults. I was more connected to their story from college. As adults things seemed a little more forced. Annika really wanted to reconnect and Jonathan just kind of agreed. That was a little weird. 

As I mentioned the present day of this book is in August 2001. Annika and Jonathan live in Chicago. 90% of the book takes place in/around Chicagoland. But Jonathan’s job in finance takes him to NYC in September 2001. (If you want spoilers, find me on the and I will give them to you) Anyway the connection to 9/11 had me incredibly anxious and rightfully so. I did not enjoy how this book ended. It felt manufactured for drama, there’s some high stakes stuff that gets resolution and then we get a quick flash forward and then roll credits. After the high emotions, I wanted a more payoff in the sense of seeing more from them and how they were going to continue their lives together.

The book is definitely more romantic fiction than a true romance, but there was enough of the romance to keep me reading. It was an interesting read. Although if you read On The Island and are looking for something similar to that, I do not think this is the book for you.

Grade: C-
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I loved Annika and Jonathan's story.  It's a little different than your regular love story because Annika is on the autism spectrum.  He needs her as much as she needs him, it's definitely not a one sided kind of love, but life happens and things get in the way and Annika must prove just how strong she is when 9-11 rocks their world. The Girl He Used to Know is touching, sweet, heartbreaking and in my mind a modern day love story.  I highly recommend you read about Annika an Jonathan. It's more than you bargain for.
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I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book and I’m glad I went in blind because it made the experience so much richer and meaningful.

This story begins in the now (2001) and switches back to 1991 every few chapters to fill in the back story of Annika and Jonathan. Annika is an incredibly shy person who loves animals, books and playing chess. She is very socially awkward, yet very trusting. This means that she can be taken advantage of sometimes.

Going away to college is a huge step for her and it may be a step too far at times, however she has a wonderful friend called Janice who always looks out for her. In Annika’s senior year she meets Jonathan at Chess club. He is intrigued by this beautiful girl and her personality quirks endear her to him. He is kind, patient and so sweet with Annika. Over time he learns to read her so well that he can adapt really quickly to any situation.

Annika cannot believe how wonderful it feels to be with someone like Jonathan, she has always lived in loneliness and isolation and having this wonderful man in her live, loving her, is more than she could ever have anticipated for herself. As their love for each other deepens and their lives weave together, she cannot imagine spending her time with anyone else. Then something happens and Annika takes 10 steps back, if not more.

Annika is tired of always relying on people to take care of her, she needs to learn to stand on her own two feet, learn how to play amongst the game of life and read social cues. She will never grow as a person when she has a safety net around her all the time. However, her personality traits make her who she is but until she is comfortable with them and accepts them, she will never be happy.

‘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.’

This was a beautiful, coming of age story of a young woman taking tentative steps into adulthood while trying to figure out who she is along the way. Loved this!
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Writing 5.0 stars
Plot 4.5 stars
Characters 5.0 stars
Language 4.5 stars

Just LOVED the whole thing! I'm biased, I think, because I totally can relate to Annika. To be accepted and understood. For people to have compassion for others differences and not pre-judge. It's a wonderful concept, but when it actually does can bring peace and acceptance to the individual that's struggling to belong/fit in. Jonathon and Janice were a dream. Annika was so lucky to have such great support. Eventually it was nice to see the brother get on board. I like how the author tied in Annika's father's condition and how it impacted her parents' marriage.
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First, this book is wholly different than On the Island - and what a talent Graves is to be able to successfully switch gears without being tempted to match the tone of a former book. 

Second, The Girl He Used To Know is a little bit educational.  You can tell Graves did her research into Aspergers (though sometimes I was like Enough already, I get it).  Annika demonstrates a quiet strength and confidence that is admirable- and Graves gives the backstory so that you know how tough it was for Annika to get there.  

And then there’s the love story. The sweet sweet love story. Annika’s life wasn’t all roses, and her suitors didn’t always actually love her. What matters in the end is that the girl he used to know is only one part of the woman she is now - and that love story is a beautiful one.
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I absolutely adored this book.  It's been a while since I've had a book grip my emotions the way this book did.  It's a love story/romance, but not in the typical, expected fashion.  It is so much more.

This is very much a character-driven book, and Tracy Garvis Graves has excelled in the characters she has created. She has created unique, lovable characters who are realistically portrayed. I loved the character, Annika.   She is on the autism spectrum, struggling to learn how to make her way through life.  I felt her struggles and loved the way she was able to gain strength and confidence in herself along the way.  Jonathan, her boyfriend, is also a character I loved for the way he accepted Annika for who she was and fell in love with her.  They were right for each other, and both of them learned from the other.

In addition to the two main characters being so well-written, the supporting cast of characters also adds immensely to this heart-warming story.  Annika had such great support in her life.  Her Mother did all she could to help prepare Annika to be self-sufficient and go to college, knowing it would be tough for her.  Her mother also knew she had to let her learn to fly for herself, yet she was also there for her when she was needed.  Her college roommate, Janice, was a treasure and such a terrific friend.  She saw what a great person Annika was and what she had to offer.  She also helped Annika so much in guiding her through social situations and translating life situations. Everyone could use a friend like Janice.

The story was told in alternating voices between Annika and Jonathan which doesn't always please me, but seeing each person's perspective helped flesh out the details of each of the main characters.

This endearing book was just what I needed.  It's been a while since anything in a book brought tears to my eyes, but that happened more than once in this book.  These characters and their story will be sticking with me for a while. I'll be hearing the author speak at the end of this week, and I can't wait to tell her how much I enjoyed this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for an advanced copy of the book.
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One of the sweetest books I've read in quite a while.  Told from two points of view and over two time periods a decade apart, the story of Annika and Jonathon, who fall in love in college then reconnect 10 years later, will warm the hardest of hearts.  Annika is quirky, on the spectrum, and is trying to figure out a life in a world she rarely understands.  Jonathon sees her for the gift she is, but they end up separating after college through a series of unfortunate events, only to reconnect by chance 10 years later.  I did not see the ending coming, and it is perfect and satisfying in every way.  If you enjoyed Elanor Olifant is Completely Fine, you will  likely enjoy this as well, although it is a bit more serious than whimsical.  Highly Recommended!  Thank you NetGalley and publishers for introducing me to the author Tracey Garvis Graves.  I'm off to check out other books by this author!
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I'm not quite sure why, but when I picked this up I was expecting literary fiction. That's not quite what I got. This is romance—and I'll admit I was a little hesitant (I'm not usually a romance reader), but once I recalibrated I was quickly sucked in. The writing is lovely, and the pacing is aided by the narration style: it's told from both Annika's and Jonathan's POV, alternating between 1991 (when the characters first meet as students at the University of Illinois) and 2001 (when they meet again in Chicago). Charming characters (Annika and her best friend; Jonathan, who read as somewhat insecure and untrusting, was not my favorite, though I liked him more as the book went on).
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Annika and Jonathan story is not a regular love story. She is special and has been struggling her whole life with the fact that she has trouble fitting in. She doesn't understand how the world works, or people in general.

The only ones that she lets get close are her family and her roommate, because they get her, she doesn't have to pretend with them, its refreshing and easy, she is just herself.

Then she meets Jonathan and everything changes, she is dubious at first and who wouldn't be? People haven't been nice to her so far and she has no idea why he would be any different. 

He surprises her by being exactly everything she needs, even though he doesn't understands the why's in every little quirk or issue she has, he watched her and learns. He accepts her with everything she is and in return Annika is able to open up her heart once more.

But life has other plans and when faced with tragedy she pulls out and blocks him and everyone out. She needs to be strong again and she can't seem to do it with him at her side. 

She finds a way to be independent and to fight her own battles, because that's the only way she can truly be free.

Battling with her problem must have been extremely hard for her, we are all used to our world, where we understand the signals and we manage to navigate it with almost no difficulty. But for her, even getting up in the morning was a struggle, she learned to live a world that she didn't quite understand, and that made her stronger.

In the end it's not about being perfect, but working to be your best self. She was not normal, but that is overrated, she was special and her true friends and love ones could see it. 

Being loved by her was one of the best things in the world, intense and forever.
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3.5 stars Thank you to the publisher for an ARC. This was a quick want to keep reading story about college sweethearts, a woman on the autistic spectrum and her boyfriend, who break up and reconnect ten years later. It was pretty engaging but then started to feel a bit repetitive and I didn’t care for where the story went in the last quarter of the book. I also started to feel like I was reading The Kiss Quotient but without as much sex and chemistry between the characters.
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I love this look at a woman finding love and her way as someone who sees the world in a different way. Annika fits the profile of someone with Autism, though she has not been given that diagnosis. She knows she does not understand other people nor can she navigate the social world as easily as people around her. The book opens as she runs into her first love after ten years. Readers are slowly introduced to the quirks that make her unique, and it is so easy to find her lovable. The book switches perspectives between hers and her long-lost love, Jonathan, and readers get the entirety of their story in flashes back and forward. Each must come to terms with the way they left things and try to find a way to move forward in the present. Annika really wants to show Jonathan what she has gained over the years he has been gone-- she has found therapy and independence. She has learned to mimic how others act in social settings, and she can nearly pass herself off as "normal." But Jonathan never wanted her to change in the first place.
Their story brings us right to the events of September 11, 2001. Here. their love story becomes entwined in one of theb worst moments of American history. By then, we are rooting so hard for them to work and for Annika's happiness that the story becomes a real nail biter. 
I recommend for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and those who love a good finding-each-other-after-many-years love story.
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Tracey Garvis Graves is one of my all-time favourite authors. She can take me into a world she has created anytime! Her stories are real, thought-provoking and wonderfully captivating.
"The Girl He Used To Know" is a novel I didn't want to end and couldn't put down.
Jonathan and Annika's timeless love story is told in flashbacks of 1991 when we get to experience them meeting and falling in love. Then in 2001, 10 years later, when we get to experience it happening all over again. 
"Life isn't easy for anyone. We all have challenges. We all face diversity. It's how we overcome it that makes us who we are".
A simply beautiful story!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an arc of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Looking for a novel that you just won't be able to put down this month? The Girl He Used to Know is a beautiful contemporary fiction escape that features a really incredible love story with characters that seem to lift off the pages.

Annika is an English major at the University of Illinois. She struggles to make sense of social situations and college, in particular, is a very scary time.

When she joins the chess club, she immediately beats Jonathan Hoffman, who can't help to be captured by Annika. She is different than any girl he has ever been with, a worthy chess opponent, and she's stunning (without even being aware of it!). They begin a beautiful relationship together, but an unforeseen tragedy forces them apart and ends their relationship.

One decade later, Annika and Jonathan are reunited and happen to be living in the same town. The two begin rekindling what was lost, but must also address why they lost each other in the first place.

Annika is a character that you can't help but to fall in love with and you also can't help rooting for these two to work their relationship out. Graves rounds out her story with beautiful supporting characters that help Annika navigate the world in really incredible ways. I can fully admit that I may have teared up in a few places in this sweet read.

Definitely add this one to your book bags this summer! I have a feeling you will love Annika & Jonathan as much as me! I'm recommending this one for fans of The Light We Lost!

Online Review Publishing on April 1st-
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