Published by St. Martin's Press on April 2nd 2019
Genres: Women's Fiction, Romance
Tropes: Second Chance
Source: Netgalley, St. Martin's Press
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Narrator: Fred Berman, Kathleen McInerney
Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
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.
The Girl He Used To Know
by Tracey Garvis Graves
I’ve been having a hell of a time finding the perfect rating for The Girl He Used To Know – I think this is one of those books that you need to read a second time to get the full experience. You are very much in the dark as to why Annika and Jonathan’s relationship didn’t survive. You know it wasn’t lack of love because that’s still there on both accounts. By the time you learn what happened you need to go back to the beginning to remember both of their feelings and memories when they reunited and rekindled their connection.
Standing on the sidewalk, I wonder if she remembers how it felt to be in love with me? I haven’t forgotten how it felt to be in love with her.
This heroine is what makes this book outstanding. Annika has so many quirks that her quirks have quirks. She is unable to recognize people’s intentions, their feelings and how to react to people’s actions. She has a childlike quality to her, a sweet and kind nature, that I found incredibly endearing. Her desire for independence and her single-minded determination made her admirable, her frustration with herself, her anxiety, her loneliness and her fierce love for Jonathan made my heart ache.
“I never know what people are thinking. It’s like visiting a country where you don’t speak the language and you’re trying so hard to understand but no matter how many times you ask for juice, they keep bringing you milk. And I hate it.”
Some of Jonathan’s reactions to Annika were born out of his own insecurities and frustration which came from an inability to understand her sometimes. Some of the things young Jonathan said painted a selfish picture which I don’t think he really was because of all the other times he took care of Annika and protected her. That message on her voice recorder when we learn what he said in the end gutted me. He didn’t handle Annika’s feelings to that one life-changing event during their college time very well but I also got where Jonathan was coming from and that it was an expression of his frustration and hurt.
I genuinely believe that he loved her deeply, the way he treated Annika with so much care, how he not only accepted her quirks but found them adorable.
There is nothing better than a great friend at your side who looks out for you. Annika’s best friend Janice is the best of the best. I was so glad that Annika had someone who accepted her and loved her without conditions.
“Are you going to kiss me?”
He laughed. “I was planning on it, yes.”
“Okay. I’m ready.”
When you look at the date this story is set in, you know which major event that changed the world will be the backdrop of the finale in this story. The last 20% were a mix of harrowing emotions, anxiety, heartbreak, relief and joy.
The half star deduction comes from the lack of an epilogue. I wish we could have had a couple of pages more with a bit more sweetness between Jonathan and Annika, that would give us the sense that this time they’d go the distance and make it work. I didn’t get that completely.
THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW is a tender one-of-a-kind love story, one that will stay for me for a long time. Despite the lack of an epilogue it still goes on my favorites shelf. I loved Jonathan and Annika who felt so real and authentic, who had flaws and never claimed to be perfect yet still aimed to be. I’m sure I will re-read this poignant, meaningful, wonderful and all the other -fuls story again.
“It’s me, Annika.”
“It’s always been you,” she says as she presses her lips to mine.