Cover Image: The Girl He Used to Know

The Girl He Used to Know

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Member Reviews

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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At its core The Girl He Used to Know is a story of love, acceptance and second chances.

Annika and Jonathan come face to face in a grocery store...after 10 years. The two were college sweethearts and it is instantly apparent that the connection they shared is alive and well even after years of absence. Annika and Jonathan's love story was heartwarming, endearing and unique. I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold through the dual timelines both for the first time in 1991 and the second time in 2001. 

Annika is beautiful, intelligent and quirky. She is also on the autism spectrum. Although she is considered to be high functioning, she suffers from social awkwardness. Through the course of her life this has led to people taking advantage of her, mistreating her and dismissing her. Yet, as we come to know Annika we realize she is strong, brave, caring, loyal and trusting to a fault. Graves did a phenomenal job developing Annika's character. I found myself rooting for her and wanting to be her friend. 

Jonathan loved and accepted Annika for who she was. He was so sweet, gentle and understanding of her needs and quirks. They truly balanced each other out with their relationship. He was a sense of security for her. With him, Annika tried new things and discovered more than her usual routine was possible. In turn, she offered Jonathan a fierce and unyielding love. 

Although Annika and Jonathan were the main characters Graves solidly built secondary characters that were an integral part of the story. I adored Annika's best friend Janice who was truly a light in her life. Janice helped Annika navigate the world socially. She acted as her translator, confidant, and guide. Their friendship was just so emotionally satisfying! I adored that Annika had this strong friend who accepted her and saw all she had to offer others. 

The one negative I have for this amazing story was the ending. It felt rushed after the time spent building their relationship. I didn't see the traumatic event coming and while I felt a bit like it came out of left field, I was ok with it. I simply didn't appreciate the abrupt ending after everything Annika and Jonathan (and me!) had been through together. 

This was a strong debut from Tracey Garvis Graves. Annika is the kind of character that will definitely remain strong in my memory and her story was well developed, emotional and left me feeling content.
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I discovered Tracy Garvis Graves a few years ago when I picked up Heart-Shaped Hack based off the cover and description. I count HSH as one of my top favorite book of all time- I loved her writing style and found the wit and banter to be perfection and I have read and enjoyed many of her works. The Girl He Used to know is so very different from her other works, but I cannot stress enough that the author does character development SO WELL no matter the premise! As I have gotten older, I have come to the realization that I am definitely not neurotypical myself and when I read characters like Annika in this book and Stella in The Kiss Quotient, I feel such a connection..... like reading about the feelings I sometimes have about social situations. It's like oh, someone else feels like this too! Such an epiphany. I simply adored this book- I felt the flashbacks lent so much to the story and seeing it all unfold the way it did was just perfect. Just 25% into 2019, and I'm already adding it to my Best of 2019!
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Saturday, April 06, 2019

carpe librum 

 seize the book!  What a great thought.

Welcome book lovers 

saturday scoop features a "scoop" on books- whether it's my review or other book related news you may have missed. 

this book just came out tuesday and i was louck enough to have read an ARC of it: 

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people's behavior confusing, she'd rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.
Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.
Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She's living the life she wanted as a librarian. He's a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.



i'm not going to say much about this beautifully written magical and inspiring story except


oh- and maybe keep a few tissues close by too!

this book made me smile, laugh and as mentioned above shed a few tears. 

annika is a special character that touched my heart on so many levels. there was also a sense of nostalgia here for me too in the settings (time frame and places).
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I very much enjoyed Graves "On the Island," but "The Girl He Used To Know" fell flat for me.  A romance about someone who is on the spectrum?  It's been done before, and far better, by others (THE ROSIE PROJECT, for instance).  Although it was refreshing to read about a high-functioning woman with autism (a condition more common in males), I never grew to care about Annika (or any of the characters). And instead of leavening the story with humor (as Simsion does in THE ROSIE PROJECT), Annika's story is told with detachment and without humor.  Perhaps that's reflective of Annika's personality, but it doesn't make for an engaging story.  

SPOILER ALERT: While the intersection of the romance with the events of 9-11 were compelling, this plot twist came too little, too late.  What if the book had started with the events of 9-11, then worked in flashbacks leading up to that date?  Perhaps it would have been a more enjoyable read.
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I loved this book!  One of my favorite tv shows is The Good Doctor about a surgeon with autism.  Annika is like the female version of Shaun.  

This very well-written book is heartwarming and heartbreaking by turns.  The wonderful characters are so realistic and sympathetic.  The story progresses at an even pace and kept me holding my breath wondering what on earth had driven Annika and Jonathan apart ten years ago,.  And then I was holding my breath again wondering if their 
chance meeting would lead to a reconnection. 

The story is too good to ruin with spoilers.  Suffice it to say I spent the last half hour of the book in tears.  Sad tears?  Happy tears?  Read the book and decide for yourself.
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I've really struggled with how to review this book because i couldn't find the words.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was heartbreaking and heartwarming. I laughed and i cried. Frankly, i thought the story and how it was told was beautiful.  
I reserve 5stars for books i will read again.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.  :-)
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Title:  The Girl He Used to Know
Author:  Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Annika Rose prefers books and chess over people. She doesn’t understand people—and they don’t understand her. When she meets Jonathan, who’s new to the college and to chess club, she thinks he’ll be just like everyone else. But he’s not. He understands her. He wants to get to know her. And he loves her unconditionally.

Ten years later, Annika runs into Jonathan again. She wants to show him how much she’s changed, but Jonathan is wary after Annika broke his heart all those years ago—with no explanation. She wants to try again, but he isn’t sure he wants to risk his heart a second time.

This novel was an intriguing look inside the head of someone who thinks just a little differently, who sees the world in slightly different shades. Annika is a fascinating character, and her journey is compelling. I found myself rooting for her all the way.

Tracey Garvis Graves is a bestselling author. The Girl He Used to Know is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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As I was reading I kept thinking that this is one of those feel-good books, where you witness two characters' lives and love story. There is more to this, of course. Annika is an autistic woman and this makes many things more difficult and challenging for her. I adored her! Jonathan, the other half of the love story, is a guy who sees Annika's awesomeness and falls in love with her. I adored him! Basically, there is no bad character for me in this novel.

By the time I crossed the half point of the novel, I was worried that things seemed to be heading in a too good to be true direction: where is the twist? the drama? the unexpected something? It comes when you see the date at the beginning of one of the chapters: September 8. And the year 2001. So that's why this story is set so many years ago! I literally stopped reading, closed the book, and whispered: "oh, my God! I hope not!" Because 9/11 can only mean one thing.
It was a good novel, it was funny and Annika was an endearing character, as was her best friend, Janice (if I remember correctly...)

One thing that bothered me was all the explicit love scenes; the graphic depictions could have been left out and nothing of the romance of the story would have been lost. In order to understand that Annika and Jonathan's love story was possible, I am sure we could have done without being given all the details of their intimate moments. Annika would have cringed had she seen this part of her life exposed. Just sayin'. It seemed that their story was hard to believe possible, so we needed to be proven through detailed love-making that see? they can be a normal couple. It was a belittling of the characters.

Other than this unfortunate part, I enjoyed this novel. Annika reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant of Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, but this is only because these two novels are the only ones with an autistic character.
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Review found here:

The Girl He Used to Know is a wonderful, memorable novel. Told in dual timelines, you follow the story of Jonathan and Annika who meet in college, and then again when reconnected in Chicago a decade later. Their romance is anything but conventional. Annika prefers space, alone time and doesn’t do well in social situations because she is on the Autism spectrum. Jonathan is the guy everyone can’t help but like with his good looks and personality, but he only wants Annika. Graves is methodical and deliberate in her story telling. The story of their relationship is a gripping one and you will certainly fall more in love with Annika and Jonathan the longer you read. review: I don’t think I could have loved this book more, even if I tried. I adored this book and everything about it. The dual timelines work perfectly for this book and the storyline within it. I loved seeing how Annika and Jonathan’s relationship progressed with the dual timeline and found myself cheering them on and wanting them to work out so badly. I felt a fondness for Annika – my youngest sister has Asperger’s and a lot of Annika’s anxiousness and social awkwardness is something I am very familiar with. In fact, I picked up on Annika being on the spectrum almost right away from just a few clues at the beginning. I certainly was not prepared for quite a few parts of this book and ended up crying over the ending, but man, it was excellent! This was my first book written by the author and her others have quickly jumped high on my TBR list. rating: 5 out of 5 ⭐️
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I received an Advanced Review Copy of The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves from the Publisher St. Martin's Press through NetGalley  (I also won a copy in a Goodreads, so we (the book and I were destined to meet) ) in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: This book tells the story of a couple over ten years, the book is told when they originally met in college in 1991 and when they are reunited in 2001. Annika and Jonathon met in chess club and began dating, except things are not so simple. Annika is different (she is on the Autism Spectrum) and she has habits and frustrations that can be difficult for her to understand.  The first part tells the story of how they fell in love, while the later part tells the story of how they find their way back to each other after a really awful break-up. 

What I Loved: This book is the ultimate romance book. It has characters that you cheer for, hot scenes, and a really beautiful/sweet love story at its core. However, its so much more than that, It talks about trying to find yourself in your twenties, trying to understand the world around you, while handling complex relationships. This book has very likeable characters. I fell for Annika and her caring nature and love of reading and really felt connected to her. I also loved her roommate Janice and her mother who understand her nature and are patient and loving with her. You felt like you were observing a really great connected group of people and it was a joy. 

What I didn’t like so much: The conflicts that arise seemed sudden at times and like not enough time was being spent dealing with them. They all seemed to pop up in the very end of the book and I wish we had gotten more time to see the characters manage them. 

Who Should Read It: People who love a good love story. People who love stories about human nature. People who love characters they can cheer for. 

General Summary: A love story told over ten years that you will feel invested in.
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The Girl He Used to Know is a beautiful love story between the quirky Annika, and the sweet and caring Jonathan. Annika and Jonathan meet in college, when they both join the chess team. Jonathan quickly falls for Annika's quirkiness, and Annika, for his kindness and acceptance of her differences. The two develop a meaningful first love, before parting ways as their college years draw to an end. 10 years later, Annika runs into Jonathan at a supermarket and asks to see him again. Can they rekindle their relationship after so much time has passed?

I truly loved the characters in this book. Annika was adorable, and Jonathan was an amazing match for her. Annika's best friend Janice, is the kind of friend every woman should have in her life. I became completely wrapped up in this love story, and it was just such a feel-good book. I give it 4.5 stars, rounded up.
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This book was amazing, I didn't expect to love it so much, but it touch me in so many ways.It was intense , emotional, fast paced and intense. The story was perfect, it was unique and it has a deep meaning.It's not your usual romance.

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

It was an amazing story that I would definitely reread it!If you are looking for a powerful story this is what you need!
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