The Girl He Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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! 
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first book by this author and I loved this story!! Connected to these characters right from the beginning... highly recommend!!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?