Hue’s Review: The Girl He Used to Know

Love finds a way. I suppose that’s the theme of this book. Also, ignore the title because it makes the story seem like a thriller, which it’s not.

Annika is unlike any other young woman we read in stories. As I guessed, she’s on the Autism spectrum (a plot point that deserved earlier “revealing”). She enjoys chess, healing and rehabilitating animals, and books. One day, she runs into Jonathan, a young man she dated a decade ago in college. While they rekindle where they left off, Tracey Garvis Graves treats us to flashbacks illustrated how Jonathan helped Tracey live beyond boxes placed because of her developmental condition and her mother.

The story’s marketed as a romance, which is rather light. But, I see it as a coming of age story, which usually happens with younger protagonists. We see Annika at her most vulnerable, discovering and noting life around her. Simple social cues and daily errands challenge her without the help of her boyfriend and her best friend, Janice. I must say that reading this story challenges my patience as I imagined living with Annika. Though no fault of her own, she requires understanding and I was not sure I had it in me.

Pros:

  1. Autism Spectrum Representation. Annika’s not helpless. She wants to learn. She wants to be part of the world. She’s determined to live her life normally.
  2. Annika. She’s a character that we do not see often in stories. Her characterization feels realistic, including how others approached and accepted her. I love her chapters.
  3. Supportive Characters. Jonathan and Janice help her discover herself with angelic patience.
  4. A Foreboding Plot Point. Boy, it’s quite obvious, if one’s paying attention.
  5. Quick Pacing.

Cons:

  1. Romance. I didn’t buy the romance between Annika and Jonathan. His love towards her felt more like a sad settlement. “Here’s this girl that needs my help, I feel like I have to stand by her out of obligation.” I needed more convincing. The romance feels forced.
  2. Jonathan’s Chapters. Well, they bog the story’s pacing. Reading them, in my opinion, makes you rush for Annika’s chapters. Honestly, the book deserves one perspective: Annika’s. She’s the stronger character.
  3. A Foreboding Plot Point. While written well, by the time, it approaches, I feel no surprise.
  4. Change the title. It sounds like a thriller or something sadder than it is.

The pros clearly outweigh the cons. Lovely. I recommend this story. However, I see it as a coming of age with light romance, not a complete romance. Grab this compelling story when it arrives April 2nd.

* Thanks to St. Martin’ Press for the arc received for an honest review*

★★★/★★★★★

Livey1

 

Author: Crafty Scribbles

Lover of Words. Mother. Teacher. Traveler. Writer. Bionic woman against ignorance. Finding the balance between words and reality. M.Ed. built to school you.

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