New York Times bestselling author of On the Island, Tracey Garvis Graves, presents the compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.
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 gameand his heartto 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.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
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.
Read an Excerpt
CHICAGO AUGUST 2001
I run into him at Dominick's, of all places. I'm poking around in the freezer case, searching for the strawberries I put in my morning smoothie, when a man's voice somewhere off to my right says, "Annika?" He sounds unsure.
From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of his face. It's been ten years since we've seen each other and though I often struggle to recognize people out of context, there's no need for me to question whether or not it's him. I know it's him. My body vibrates like the low rumble of a faraway train and I'm grateful for the freezer's cold air as my core temperature shoots up. I want to bolt, to forget about the strawberries and find the nearest exit. But Tina's words echo in my head, and I repeat them like a mantra: Don't run, take responsibility, be yourself.
I draw an uneven breath that doesn't quite fill my lungs, and turn toward him. "Hi, Jonathan."
"It is you," he says.
I smile. "Yes."
My hair, which used to be waist length and usually in need of a good brushing, is now shiny and straight and stops a few inches below my shoulders. The tailored shirt and slim-fitting pants I'm wearing are a far cry from my college wardrobe of skirts and dresses two sizes too big. It's probably thrown him a bit.
At thirty-two, he still looks the same to me: dark hair, blue eyes, broad swimmer's shoulders. He's not smiling, but his brows aren't knitted together in a scowl, either. Though I've vastly improved my ability to read facial expressions and other nonverbal cues, I can't tell if he's harboring any angry or hurt feelings. He has every right to feel both.
We take a step forward and we hug, because even I know that after all this time — and all we've been through — we're supposed to hug. There is an immediate feeling of safety and comfort when Jonathan's arms are around me. That hasn't changed at all. The smell of chlorine that used to cling to his skin has been replaced by something woodsy and, thankfully, not too heavy or cloying.
I have no idea why he's in Chicago. A prestigious financial services firm in New York had whisked Jonathan out of Illinois almost before the ink finished drying on his diploma, when what had once been a planned move for two turned into a solo endeavor.
When we separate, I stumble over my words. "I thought you lived ... Are you here on business ...?"
"I transferred to the Chicago office about five years ago," he says. It astounds me that all this time, as I've walked around the city I now call home, I never knew bumping into him was a possibility. How many times have we been within a certain-mile radius of each other and not known it? How many times were we behind or in front of each other on a busy sidewalk, or dining in the same restaurant?
"My mom needed someone to oversee her care," he continues.
I'd met his mother once, and I liked her almost as much as I liked my own. It had been easy to see where Jonathan's kindness had come from. "Please tell her I said hello."
"She died a couple of years ago. Dementia. The doctor said she'd probably been suffering from it for years."
"She called me Katherine and couldn't find her keys," I say, because my recall is excellent and it all makes sense now.
He acknowledges my statement with a brief nod. "Do you work downtown?" he asks.
I close the freezer door, embarrassed that I've been holding it open the whole time. "Yes, at the Harold Washington Library."
My answer brings the first smile to his face. "Good for you."
The conversation sputters to an awkward halt. Jonathan has always done the heavy lifting where our communication is concerned, but this time he doesn't let me off the hook and the silence is deafening. "It was great to see you," I finally blurt. My voice sounds higher than it usually does. Heat rushes to my face, and I wish I'd left the freezer door open after all.
As he turns to go, a pang of longing hits me so hard my knees nearly buckle, and I gather my courage and say, "Jonathan?"
His eyebrows are raised slightly when he turns back around. "Yes?"
"Would you like to get together sometime?" I tense as the memories come flooding back. I tell myself it's not fair to do this to him, that I've done enough already.
He hesitates but then he says, "Sure, Annika." He removes a pen from the inside pocket of his suit coat and reaches for the grocery list in my hand, scrawling his phone number on the back.
"I'll call you. Soon," I promise.
He nods, his expression blank again. He probably thinks I won't go through with it. He'd be justified in that, too.
But I will call. I'll apologize. Ask him if we can start over. "Clean slate," I'll say.
Such is my desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I've become.CHAPTER 2
CHICAGO AUGUST 2001
At my initial therapy session with Tina it took my eyes almost five minutes to adjust to the dimly lit room. When I could finally see my surroundings clearly, I realized it was intentional, and that everything in the room had been placed there based on its ability to soothe. The floor lamp in the corner — the only source of light — had a cream-colored shade that threw muted shadows against the wall. The brown leather furniture felt buttery-soft under my fingertips, and the thick rug covering the floor made me want to kick off my shoes and wiggle my toes among its soft, fluffy fibers.
"I ran into Jonathan," I tell Tina before she's even shut the door when I show up for my weekly appointment. She sits down in the armchair and I sink into the overstuffed couch across from her, its cushions enveloping me in a way that has always eased my anxiety about being there.
"Last Tuesday. I stopped at Dominick's on my way home from work, and he was there."
We've spent many hours discussing Jonathan and she must certainly be curious, but knowing what Tina's thinking by the look on her face is a nut I'll never crack. "How did it go?"
"I remembered what you said I should do if I ever saw him again." I brightened, sitting up a bit taller despite the couch's continued attempt to swallow me. "We had a conversation. It was short, but it was nice."
"There was a time when you wouldn't have done that," Tina says.
"There was a time when I would have escaped out the back door and then taken to my bed for two days." I had felt drained when I'd finally made it home with my groceries. And then, when I was putting them away, the grief I'd felt about the death of Jonathan's mother finally caught up to me and I had myself a good long cry because now he doesn't have any parents at all. I'd also neglected to tell him how sorry I was even though I was thinking it in my head. Despite my fatigue, it had taken me a long time to fall asleep that night.
"I thought he was in New York?"
"He was. He transferred here to take care of his mom before she died. That's all I really know." Jonathan's appearance had been so unexpected, so random, that I hadn't been capable of articulating many questions. It had occurred to me belatedly that I had no idea if he was married. Glancing down at a man's ring finger is the kind of subterfuge that occurs to me later — and in the case of Jonathan, two full days after the fact.
"What do you suppose was going through Jonathan's mind when he saw you in that grocery store?"
Tina knows how difficult it is for me to understand what others are thinking, so her question does not surprise me. In the ten years since I've seen Jonathan, I've replayed the final weeks of our relationship, and the last message he left on my answering machine, over and over in my mind. Tina had helped me see these events through Jonathan's eyes, and what I'd realized made me feel ashamed. "He didn't seem hurt or angry," I say, which doesn't really answer her question. Tina knows everything there is to know about the situation, and she could probably tell me what Jonathan was thinking. She just wants to hear my take on it. One of the things I like most about our sessions is that I'm the one who determines what I'm comfortable discussing, so Tina won't push. Not too much, anyway.
"How did he seem?"
"Neutral, I guess? He smiled when I told him about the library. He started to walk away, but I asked him if he wanted to get together, and he gave me his number."
"You've made real progress, Annika. You should be proud."
"He probably thinks I won't call."
Though it fills me with anxiety to envision the road I'm about to travel, I answer firmly. "Yes."
I study Tina's face, and though I can't be certain, I think she might be pleased.CHAPTER 3
THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 1991
In college, if you wanted to find me, you'd need only to look in three places: the Wildlife Medical Clinic, the library, or the student union, where my chess club meetings took place.
With the amount of time I spent volunteering in the clinic, one might think I aspired to a career in veterinary medicine. Animals were one of the few things that brought me extreme happiness, especially those in need of my attention. The other volunteers might have assumed the animals provided a respite from the loneliness and isolation that surrounded me during my college years, but few would understand that I simply preferred the company of animals over most humans. The soulful look in their eyes as they learned to trust me sustained me more than any social situation ever would.
If there was one thing I loved almost as much as animals, it was books. Reading transported me to exotic locales, fascinating periods in history, and worlds that were vastly different from my own. My mother, frantic with worry one afternoon when I was eight, found me outside in our tree house on a snowy December day engrossed in my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book, the one where Pa got caught in the blizzard and ate the Christmas candy he was bringing home for Laura and Mary. She'd been searching for me for half an hour and had called my name for so long she'd lost her voice. Though I explained it to her repeatedly, she couldn't seem to grasp that I was simply playing the part of Laura waiting in the cabin. Sitting in the cold tree house made perfect sense to me. When I'd discovered I could pursue a career that would allow me to spend my days in a library, surrounded by books, the joy I'd felt had been profound.
Until my dad taught me to play chess at age seven, there wasn't a single thing I was good at. I did not excel at sports, and I was all over the board academically, earning either the very highest or the very lowest marks, depending on the class and how much it interested me. Debilitating shyness prevented me from participating in school plays or other extracurricular activities. But much like books, chess filled a void in my life that nothing else had been able to satisfy. Though it took me a long time to figure it out, I know that my brain does not work like other people's. I think in black-and-white. Concrete, not abstract. The game of chess, with its strategies and rules, matched my worldview. Animals and books sustained me, but chess gave me the opportunity to be a part of something.
When I played the game, I almost fit in.
* * *
The Illini Chess Club met in the food court area of the student union on Sunday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. The number of attendees varied widely. At the beginning of the semester, when members weren't yet bogged down by their course loads or busy studying for exams, there might be thirty students. By the time finals drew near, our numbers would plummet and we would be lucky to have ten. The Sunday chess club meetings were casual, consisting mostly of free play and socializing. The chess team meetings — for members who wanted to participate in competitive play — were held on Wednesday evenings and focused on competitive training games, the solving of chess puzzles, and analyzing famous chess matches. Though I possessed the necessary skills and would have preferred the more formal structure of the chess team meetings, I had no desire to compete.
Jonathan joined us on a Sunday evening early in my senior year. While the rest of the club mingled and talked, I fidgeted in my customary spot, board set up, ready for play. I'd kicked off my shoes as soon as I sat down, pressing the soles of my bare feet down on the cool smooth floor because it felt so good to me in a way I could never explain to anyone no matter how hard I tried. I watched as Jonathan approached Eric, our club president, who smiled and shook his hand. A few minutes later, Eric called the meeting to attention, raising his voice to be heard above the din.
"Welcome, everyone. New members, please introduce yourselves. Pizza at Uno afterward if anyone's interested." Eric turned back to Jonathan and then pointed toward me. The gesture filled me with dread, and I froze.
I almost always played with Eric, for two reasons: One, we'd joined the chess club on the same day our freshman year and as the two newest members, it made sense for us to partner up for our first game, and two, no one else ever wanted to play with me. If Eric and I finished our game quickly, he moved on to play with someone else and I went home. I liked playing with Eric. He was kind, but that never stopped him from playing his hardest. If I beat him, I knew I'd earned it, because he spared me no handicap. But now that Eric had been elected president and spent some of the meeting answering questions or handling other administrative functions, he wasn't always available to play with me.
My stomach churned as Jonathan walked toward me, and I calmed myself by flicking my fingers under the table as if I were trying to remove something unpleasant from the tips. When I was a child, I would rock and hum, but as I got older, I learned to keep my self-soothing methods hidden. I nodded my acknowledgment of his presence when he sat down across from me.
"Eric thought we could partner tonight. I'm Jonathan Hoffman."
His jaw was square and his eyes were bright blue. His short dark hair looked shiny, and I wondered if it would feel soft and silky under my fingertips. He smelled faintly of chlorine, and while I hated most smells, for some reason that one didn't bother me.
"Annika Rose," I said, my voice barely above a whisper.
I shook my head. "No M." The confusion surrounding my name had been a constant my whole life. In seventh grade, a particularly vile girl named Maria had shoved my head into a locker. "A weird name for a weird girl," she'd hissed, sending me fleeing in tears to the nurse's office.
"Annika," Jonathan said, as if he were trying it on. "Cool. Let's play."
Eric and I alternated who played white and therefore took turns enjoying the slight advantage that came with it, and if we'd played together that night it would have been his turn. But since I'd been paired unexpectedly with Jonathan, the pieces in front of him were white and he went first.
His opening sequence displayed his affinity for the moves of World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Once I identified his strategy, I chose my defense accordingly and immersed myself in the game, the sounds and smells of the food court fading away along with my nervousness. I no longer heard snippets of the students' conversations as they ate their burgers and fries, or the sizzle of the wok from a fresh batch of chicken fried rice. I didn't smell the pepperoni pizza hot out of the oven. Iplayed ruthlessly from the start, because every game I played was a game I played to win, but I also took my time and concentrated on my next move. Neither Jonathan nor I spoke.
The game of chess is largely silent, but to me there is great beauty in the lack of sound.
"Checkmate," I said.
There was a long pause and then he said, "Good game." He looked around, but only a few of our members remained. Everyone else had left for dinner while we were still playing.
"You too," I replied, because the victory had been as hard won as any I'd earned from Eric.
"You going out for pizza and beer?" I stood up, grabbed my backpack, and said, "No. I'm going home."
* * *
The lingering smell of sandalwood incense and Lysol greeted me when I opened the door of the campus apartment Janice and I had lived in for the past two years. The incense was to cover up the faint scent of pot that always clung to her boyfriend's clothes. Janice would never have allowed Joe to get stoned in our apartment, and she couldn't detect the smell on him herself. But I had a very sensitive nose and I knew what it was the moment she introduced us. Janice understood that the memories it triggered were something I simply couldn't handle.
The Lysol was to counteract the aftereffects of whatever Jan cooked for Joe. She loved to experiment with recipes and spent hours in the kitchen. Her palate ran toward the gourmet side of things, while mine aligned more closely with the dietary habits of a six-year-old. More than once, I'd seen Joe staring at the grilled cheese or chicken nuggets on my plate while Janice stirred something complicated on the stove. I appreciated her willingness to keep the smells in our apartment to a minimum, but didn't have the heart to tell her that the Lysol and incense only added two of them to the mix. And because I wasn't the easiest person to live with, I never would.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Girl He Used To Know"
Copyright © 2019 Tracey Garvis Graves.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Tracy Garvis Graves,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another wonderful book. She is a great author and I loved the storyline. Her characters are so real and you can just imagine what is going through Annika’s mind and so heart broken when she thinks she has done something wrong. Love the book.
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!
I love character- driven books, and the characters in this book are well- drawn and easy to love. Read it.
5+++++++ This was my first TGG book and I am in love. I loved everything about it. The characters, the story, even when I realized “where” the dates were going. At that point my heart was in my throat. My heart broke for Annika when she speaks of her diagnosis but was amazed at how she grew from that college girl Jonathan knew to the woman who learned coping mechanisms and became so independent. THE GIRL has be dying to read the rest of Ms. g’s library.
What a lovely, lovely story. THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW first caught my eye because I noticed it takes place (partially) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and I’m so glad to have come across it. It’s a beautiful story of first loves and first mistakes, the confusion of being a young person, and the regrets/what ifs we live with as adults. I love that this novel features a female lead who not only has anxiety but also is on the Autism spectrum. Seeing things from her point of view is fascinating and makes the novel even more rewarding. I also loved the different settings. Being able to track these characters as they roam around campus (and go to Kams — GROSS) was so wonderful. There’s an event at the end that I had an inkling about from the start, and it just adds a whole new level to the main female protagonist, bringing her full circle and fully into the world. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who’s looking for a sweet yet layered and heartfelt romance or a carefully crafted character piece.
This book is definitely unique. It took me a (long) while to get into the story, but once you reach about midway, you want to keep on reading to find out what happens next. The author doesn't tell you in the beginning of the story what the main character's disability is, just the challenges that come with living it. It was a eye opener for me to view life from this set of lens. Overall I enjoyed the story and would have liked for it to continue.
I loved The Girl He Used to Know so, so much. Annika has always been seen as odd or strange, and people do not understand her "weird" behaviors. Except for Jonathan. He sees her and accepts her the way she is. In fact, they fall in love. But something happens that splits them up and Jonathan moves to New York City while Annika stays in Chicago to finish her schooling. Ten years later they run into each other at the grocery store, and this sends them both back in time and forces them to reevaluate their feelings for one another. This book was simply wonderful. It made me feel so many things. Having a stepson who is on the Autism spectrum, so reading the story partially from Annika's perspective opened my eyes to so many things. The Girl He Used to Know is one of the best books I have read this year. In fact, it is one of the best I have ever read! #NetGalley
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.
I started reading this book and thought OK, just another romance and love story! It was unique and very touching, The story travels between the time Annika and Jonathan was in college and 10 years later which is 2001. How they fell in love and had plans and their lives changed and their ways were separated. Which was nothing very much different with other usual love stories. The part that I enjoyed a lot was the current (2001) when I got to know more and more about Annika. This book has strong characters and the story gets more developed towards the end. Love can change one's life. Love, will make people forget about themselves and love, will make one strong. It was the Jonathan's love that made Annika strong to drive alone to find him. That strength gave her confidence and forced her to be independent.
Could not get into this book, trite and predictable
I honestly struggled to finish this book as I DID NOT CARE AT ALL. 1.5 but rounding up [!] because it wasn't the absolute worst thing I've read. The setting: 1991 [seniors in college] Annika and Jonathan fall madly in love [but break up]. Annika, a beautiful [constantly mentioned] English major at the University of Illinois. Socially awkward/anxious. Gifted chess player. Loves books. Becomes a librarian. Jonathan, also a good chess player. Pursues a career in finance. Moves to New York, then back to Chicago. Marries, then divorces. 2001 [life, 10 years later]. They meet up by chance. Hesitantly resume a relationship. What/who did I like? Annika's roommate, Janice--a caring person who became her friend. Chapters alternate between Annika [overwhelmingly] and some Jonathan. And the dual time lines, 1991 and 2001. And for the last [less than] quarter of the book, I actually groaned seeming to know the outcome. [I was right.] Bored. Flat. Simplistic. Sometimes even felt juvenile. Never engaged. I found myself groaning and saying [to myself] yuck or oy many times! No real spoiler alert but if you can't figure out at the beginning [though not revealed almost until the end] that she's on the autism spectrum, well... The only good thing I can say is it was a fast, easy read. But, considering all the good reviews--maybe you want to try it--but the recommendation didn't come from me! However, I am clearly in the minority for the love felt for this book.
An in depth look at a high-functioning autistic adult woman. The story is told, mostly, from her point of view. I was anxious to buy this for my 3 teen-aged granddaughters until I came to the explicit sex scenes. They were definitely not needed in such detail and have ruined this book for gift giving.
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.
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 emotive, 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.
This book was just wonderful! I went into this book rather blindly, having never read any of the author's prior work or knowing what this story was about. I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I started reading. This book grabbed my attention right away and never let go. I was captivated by Annika and Jonathan and wanted more than anything to see good things happen for them. I had an absolutely fabulous time with this book. Annika has trouble in many social situations. She has a hard time knowing what she should say and do in situations and puts little thought into her appearance. Crowds and a lot of noise bother her so she tries to avoid certain situations. She has a really hard time making friends and has led a rather solitary life. She does enjoy books and is really good at chess. Jonathan meets Annika though chess at college. He does see that Annika is a bit different in some ways but those differences don't bother him. He sees the goodness and caring in her and somehow seems to know how to be what she needs. I loved Jonathan and I also loved seeing Annika when she was with him. They just seemed to fit together perfectly. This book is told from both Jonathan and Annika's point of view during their college years and 10 years later when they meet up again. I liked the way that the story was laid out because it allowed the reader to slowly learn what went wrong as they were reconnecting. I also thought that using two points of view to tell the story was very powerful. It was really important to see how both Jonathan and Annika saw the events in their lives. Just when I thought I knew exactly where this book was going. Boom. I was wrong. I love it when a book surprises me and this one did just that in a spectacular fashion. As I neared the end of this book, I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what would happen next. I think that the direction the story ended up going really did a great job in illustrating Annika's growth throughout the book. I would highly recommend this book to others. This was a story that surprised me, opened my eyes, and touched my heart. I hope to read more of this author's work very soon. I received a review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press.
Wow, I finished this book last night and have just felt drained since, I did not see that coming! It was very interesting to get a glimpse at a character who isn’t “normal”. Annika for sure had her quirks but was able to navigate life with help from some good friends. Along the way she fell in love, expirenced heart break, learned to live on her own and then did it all again. This is a great book but I was disappointed by its abrupt ending, I would have loved an epilogue or something more. #TheGirlHeUsedToKnow
This. Book. Ruined. Me. There is really no other way to put it. The Girl He Used To Know hit me in all my sensitive spots. Annika felt very familiar to me, Jonathan was lovely, and this whole book was a widely emotional ride. One final thing before we get to the review, make sure you read the date at the beginning of each chapter. If you do, you won't be as shocked as I was by the event that occurs in the final fourth of the book. (aka I need to pay attention more) Let's get to the review! The book is formatted so that each chapter is the point of view of either Annika or Jonathan. I really like when books do this because it helps break up the book and allows the reader to explore and connect with more than one character. The book also switches between periods of time. There are some chapters that show Annika and Jonathan's relationship in 1991 when they first meet in college and some in 2001 when they meet up again. The book starts off with Annika. It's clear early on that Annika isn't like the people around her. Her social skills aren't the best, she doesn't like loud noises, and finds a lot of people's behavior very confusing. (same) When we first meet Annika, she is a librarian, the job she has always wanted (ditto), and is doing the best she can to live her life in Chicago. She's seeing a therapist to help her understand other people and understand herself. One day, while she's shopping for groceries, she runs into her college boyfriend, Jonathan. The meeting throws her off-kilter. Their relationship did not end well and while Annika is so happy to see him, she worries what he might think of her. But Jonathan's life isn't perfect either. He may have a fancy job in finance, but he's also getting over a divorce. While he is reluctant to meet with Annika after their first meeting, he doesn't say no to another meeting (or another one after that.) Eventually, they come back together, happier than they ever might have been if they never broke up. But can their relationship last a travesty that no one was expecting? Between the chapters showing Annika and Jonathan reconnecting, we get to see what Annika was like in college and how she ends up meeting Jonathan. They meet at chess club, the one extracurricular Annika participates in. Annika has trusted the wrong people in the past, so when she first starts to have feelings for Jonathan, she makes him meet her roommate, Janice. Janice gets Annika. She knows how she is, what she likes, and what she doesn't, and she's saved her from more than one bad situation before. Once Janice approves of Jonathan, Annika feels even better about being with him and they begin what turns into a serious relationship. But a tragedy, Annika's issues, and Jonathan's avoidance of certain parts of who she is (how did he think Annika was going to live in NYC? HOW?!) ends up breaking their relationship apart. Luckily, their connection is reignited when they meet ten years later. Time for trigger warnings. If you're old enough, you know what huge event happened in 2001. If this event is triggering for you, just be aware that it's pretty well described and the periods of waiting when we don't know if a certain character is ok, are VERY intense. I am giving The Girl He Used To Know 5 out of 5 stars. Add this to your TBR but make sure you have some tissues with you when you read it. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.