Genre: Fiction/Contemporary Romance Publication Date: 02 April 2019 Date Finished Reading: 04 June 2019
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.
Annika and Jonathan were college sweethearts and while Annika was always perceived as an oddball, that didn’t stop him from loving her. With young love, raging hormones and so much hopes & dreams, they promised each other to be together always but like always, a lot of things happened and sometimes, unavoidable circumstances happen that they failed to keep their promise to each other after graduation. Later on, they broke up and Jonathan met someone else and got married. Many years passed and Annika did her best to be the best version of herself. She went to therapies and learned how to be independent. She wanted to be improve and leave the helpless girl in the past because she plans to look for Jonathan, clear things and if possible, start all over again.
And then one fateful day, they unexpectedly meet again and in their minds, both hoped to rekindle their romance and give themselves a second chance.
Before I reached the 50th page, I already have a hint that Annika has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because she reminds me a lot of Stella Lane (from the book The Kiss Quotient) and I was not wrong. My clues? The part where she loves going barefoot because it relaxes her and feeling fabric/textures.
"You have wonderful gifts to offer to people, Annika. You are honest and loyal. Not everyone will appreciate that, and there are people who will dislike you anyway. Life isn't easy for everyone. We all face adversity. It's how we overcome it that makes us who we are."
Both characters (Annika & Stella) are highly functional but they have sensitive senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste); they are too honest and will speak whatever they have in mind. They needed social to actually study & learn social cues, otherwise, they have a hard time understanding what’s going on. They basically survive on their own by overcoming their own fears and didn’t stop them from finding and experiencing love.
When I started reading Jonathan’s character, I felt that he is a kind soul. A gentle, sensitive and loving man to Annika and I can’t believe that they separated. I was like “OMG! why are you not together?!” He’s the man for her and they should get married already! But thankfully, he tried to pick up where they left off.
I usually go for laugh-out-loud/rom-com kind of stories but this book has something & it got my attention. I was curious about Jonathan and Annika and after reading the first 2 chapters, I wanted to know more! I want to know their past and I certainly want to know what’s gonna happen next.
Will they be back to each other's arms? Will there be a second chance?
Their story is something that would make you want to read more because you wanna know more. To me, it’s that engaging.
Towards the end of the book, I was at the verge of crying because in the story, Jonathan was one of the people who got trapped during the 9/11 attack and while going thru the words, my heart was thumping! I’m scared!!! I feel like crying and literally saying “no! no! no!” I even had to stop and take a deep breath because I’m scared to find out if he made it or not.
If you’re a hopeless romantic, The Girl He Used To Know is for you. 🙂 I am giving it 4 stars.
About the Author
Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.