Title: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Format: Audiobook (4hrs and 59 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb: 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 am not a big fan of second chance romances but I love this author’s work so I was willing to take a chance on this book.
This novel was written from the perspective of the main characters Annika and Jonathan, and it vacillates from their past to their present. Annika Rose and Jonathan Hoffman met at college at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagn as members of the chess club. Annika was a shy and socially awkward girl who showed signs of having either Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. Jonathan was a confident transfer student who wants intrigued with Annika, especially with her chess expertise. Their friendship blossomed into a sweet college romance love and she ended up ghosting him after he graduated.
Ten years later, Annika accidentally ran into Jonathan at the grocery store so she asked him out for coffee. Annika saw this an opportunity to right a wrong from almost a decade ago. The readers get glimpses into the people they were back in college and who Annika and Jonathan are ten years later.
The story moves at an even pace, allowing the reader to get into the characters head and experience their emotions. It was certainly educational for me to see how different and challenging everyday occurrences can be for someone whose brain is wired is different from mine.
Tracey Garvis Gravis did a great job of presenting Annika and Simon without making it overly emotional and sappy. I also loved her addition of Janice, Annika’s roommate in college and current best friend. It was a journey of growth, independence and learning from one’s mistakes. It is also about communicating, understanding and having empathy for others who may not be just like you. It was very subtle the way the author mended something that was thought to be broken a long time ago resulting in a beautiful and more mature love. I enjoy stories where characters evolve and as a reader, I learn something new. I will definitely recommend it to others.