The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves
Publishing Date: 8th August 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
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.
In the early 1990s, Annika and Jonathan were together at the University. They got to know each other at the chess club – a place where Annika felt relatively safe. She used to get anxious in social situations and chess club felt always the same and she didn’t have to engage into conversations. One day she’s supposed to play against Jonathan, and he starts to see her in a different light than others. They eventually start dating and everything runs smoothly, until one day when something happens that tears them apart.Fast forward ten years and Annika lives in Chicago, working her dream job at the library. Shopping at a grocery store, she runs into Jonathan and slowly they start to get to know each other again. But will they be able to sort the past out? To move on?
I adored Annika and I loved to see her growing, finding herself and accepting herself. She is altruistic, kind and honest, and maybe she doesn’t understand the world around her completely, but she knows what falling in love is. The wonderfully blunt observations of hers are so true to life and genuine, she was simply strong, brave and loyal. Her best friend Janice is another winner in this story, the kind of bad ass best friend that we all need in our lives, and I loved her patience with Annika, the way she explained her the world and it was so great to finally see a girl supporting another girl, and not bringing her down.
The story is narrated by Annika and Jonathan and it worked really well in this book, as we get two points of view, often on the same situation, and it gives us a really great insight into how their minds worked and what made them tick. Each chapter has a date but I must admit that I only cottoned on why it is so important at the end of the story, when THIS happened. Gah. I really didn’t see it coming and while I also didn’t find it necessary, I was OK with it. We watch their love unfolding, and I must say this feeling was so pure and raw and genuine, and I liked it so much because they were not playing games, they simply followed their instincts and feelings – it was so different to all the will they/won’t they stories, felt like a breath of fresh air. Although I must admit that I wasn’t so sure of Jonathan’s feelings, let me explain why – we were all the time left with a feeling that it was Annika’s fault that they broke up with each other, and for me Jonathan was fully accepting this, however, when it was eventually revealed what has happened it became clear that it was as much his as Annika’s fault, and he let her blame herself all the time, and I simply didn’t find it brilliant. For me he was like yes, ok, let’s try again because it suits me and I forgive you for what has happened. And it really seemed Annika has invested much more in the relationship, that she loved him more. But please, don’t get me wrong here, he WAS a loving, caring person and Annika tried new things with him, she was founding her courage with him – but it was really Annika that made the story for me.
The writing style is flowing and it feels so lyric and Annika’s voice is so special and distinctive, with all her feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and emotions brilliantly captured by the author. It was as if the author has got into her characters’ heads and I found myself engrossed in their lives. I would only like the end not to feel so rushed and abrupt after everything that has happened in the book.
“The Girl He Used to Know” is a story about taking your life in your own hand, compelling and sensitive. It was so much more than a second chance romance, there was much more depth to it and it touched upon many serious issues but in an accessible, gentle way. A captivating tale of love and acceptance – truly recommended.
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR: