Published by St. Martin's Press on April 2, 2019
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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.
“Such is my desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I’ve become.”
The Girl He Used to Know is one of the most lovely books I have ever had the pleasure of sharing an evening with. My heart feels fuller for having read it.
Ten years ago, Annika made a choice, one that separated her from the love of her life, Jonathan. After a fluke encounter in a market, Annika gets a second chance that so many deserve, but are rarely awarded the opportunity. Tracey Garvis Graves weaves us through duel timelines and alternating points of view to let this lush story unfold. It has a way of making us root for Annika and Jonathan’s present, while craving the answers of what happened a decade in their past. The steady – and yet sometimes achingly metered pace – gives the reader time to appreciate the build up as they rekindle their love. This is a slow burn to the core that offers the tenderness required for Annika and Jonathan’s situation. The characters don’t get consumed by their lust. They beautifully fall in love, and we get to bear witness…twice.
“‘I’ll wait for you, the way you always waited for me.'”
Graves writes with such empathy and sincerity that there were times I had to remind myself: this is fiction. It is truly the work of an artist who has a rare gift of glimpsing and the soul, and capturing its complexity was such clarity. There is a familiar authenticity she gives to the characters that feels almost like the ghost of a life past.
I am fairly confident that I held my breath for the last thirty pages. At a certain point, I realized what was coming, and I felt this pit deep grow within me. I couldn’t bear not knowing the ending. Really what I’m saying is: I read until 2 am because this book got its hooks in my early and I legitimately couldn’t stop because I was so invested and enthralled. While I couldn’t manage to exhale until the final words, I did manage to ugly cry a fair amount – and not just in the last chapter.
Thanks to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and St. Martin’s Press for my first ever book mail. It is a story I didn’t know how much I needed, and I will carry this emotional work with my for a very long time. If you enjoyed Christina Lauren’s Love and Other Words, I’m sure you’ll love this one as well.