The Girl He Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

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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The Girl He Used to Know was hard for me to connect with and when I skipped to the end (I do this all the time) I realized that 9/11 would be a major event and plot point, and this is something that I personally do not want to live through again.
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The Girl He Used to Know is a poignant story of a woman on the autism spectrum navigating college, life , and love. I loved the characters and the story. It made me reflect on how I am preparing my students for life. I took all of Annika's observations to heart. There were tears. I highly recommend this book. I will read more from Tracey Garvis Graves.  Thanks St Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC of this title.
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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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