I listened to an audiobook version of The Girl He Used to Know on Audible.
Genre: Contemporary fiction/Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Originally published: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 291 (hardcover)
Audiobook length: 8 Hours 10 Minutes
Blurb by the publisher:
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.
I was looking for something light and slightly romantic when I was browsing through Audible for a new audiobook and found this one. Little did I know that what I thought was just a fluffy story of young love reconnected was to be so much more, and I would fall completely in love with it.
The Girl He Used to Know tells the story of Annika and Jonathan who meet when they’re both studying at the University of Illinois. We jump between the time that they met and got to know each other, and a decade later when they are reconnected once again in Chicago.
It’s easy to understand from the very beginning of the story that Annika’s mind works a little differently from most others. She is very anxious, and she talks about her experiences with therapy and how she struggles at times with everyday life.
I think this is what makes this story so unique and different. Told from the perspective of someone who obviously has some kind of mental disability (and the reader slowly, but surely gets a clearer picture of how much) but is also highly functional and tries to live as normal of a life as possible.
It was a very different kind of perspective in a love story that was new to me, and one that I really appreciated.
I want to see more stories like this. More characters with the kind of depth and difficulties that we see in Annika. And the fact that we also get a glimpse of how her challenges are perceived by Jonathan as well adds so much more to the story.
Tracy Garvis Grayes has written a beautiful and funny story. One that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It took me on a journey I had no idea that I was about to venture out on, and I loved every minute of it. Even the ones where I bawled my eyes out.
This book is so much more than a love story. I wish I could explain why, but that would spoil too much, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.
Highly, highly recommend if you want a deeper and different kind of love story that touches on some subjects of mental health and disabilities that deserves way more attention than it is getting.
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